Military History

This is a brief conceptual model of “Long Wars” as socio-economic phase-transitions. I’ll draw an analogy with sandpiles. The wars are the avalanches on the slopes of the sandpile.

Wars like the Peloponnesian War and World War I elude easy explanation. Thucydides tried to explain it, but the local causes seem insignificant to the scale of the multi-decade long wars.

Instead, the wars are caused by a large number of small events because of changing economies and political ideas.


StrategyPage describes the role and duty of the CSM. The CSMs are the “old soldiers” that keep the army rolling.

(Continuation of Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)

By 1912-1913, General Pershing pacified the Moro Islands and built a coalition of tribal and religious leaders while managing to create a Moro central government.

There was an opportunity to create an independent Moro State, separate from the Catholic Philippines during this time. Instead, a serious of inane political moves by Woodrow Wilson’s Administration squandered opportunities and left a miserable political situation in the Moro Province. The US Army did a better job of governing than the President and Congress.

(Continuation of Part I, Part II, and Part III)

Some Moro tribes on Sulu island continued resistance against American rule for over a decade of on and off fighting. The Americans used a lot of “soft power” through markets and religious influence to calm the population. In particular, the US relied on the Sultan of Sulu as a spiritual leader of the Muslims. The US also contacted the Ottoman Empire and receive the Turkish Caliph authorization to rule over Muslim people.

(Continuation of Part I and Part II)

Between 1901 and 1904, there were numerous small rebellions in the Moro Province. The American legal reforms and military presence was uneven and asymmetrically affected some datus and religious leaders more than others, which explains why the rebellions occured at seemingly random intervals as each individual datu reached his own breaking point before rebelling.

These rebellions would be led by individual datus and typically consisted of only one to two hundred men. Captain Pershing was one of the officers in charge of suppressing these revolts.

(Continued from Part I)

At the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded control of the Philippine Islands to the United States for a mere $20 million. According to Articles III and IV of the Peace Treaty, the grid coordinates of the ceded territory included Mindanao and the Sulu islands, despite the fact that Spain never conquered these Muslim ruled territories. America technically owned an independent region of Muslims numbering some 300,000.

Unlike the Spanish, the Americans never tried to Christianize the Muslim population, but its administrative policies produced mixed results and often incited rebellions as much as subduing them.

The US captured the Philippine Islands from Spain during the Spanish-American War; one of the territories it controlled were the Muslim Moroland. The Moros are a Malaysian tribal society on the Sulu archipelago and the larger island of Mindanao.

The US Army fought sporadic small wars over the course of decades in Moroland. It adapted to guerrilla warfare in jungles and Muslim suicide attacks (the juramentados). Notably, the US Army worked very closely with the Sultans, the tribal leaders, and religious scholars during the war. It displayed a kind of cultural intelligence and awareness that is unexpected for its era.

A prominant figure in the Moro Wars was a young officer, Captain John J. Pershing. “Black Jack” Pershing was a great counterinsurgency fighter, which is somewhat forgotten since he is best known as America’s commanding general during World War I.

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