LESSONS FROM MALAYA
Brigadier Richard L. Clutterbuck in The Long, Long War provides a detailed account of the insurgency in Malaya and the actions taken by the British and Malayan governments to counter this insurgency. There are certain key points that Clutterbuck emphasizes in the British strategy to defeat the communists. Protection of the people and the government structure is essential. An extensive police force at the village level is also required, he says. The police are necessary to control the population and to gain intelligence. Throughout his book Clutterbuck clearly shows the necessity of having detailed information concerning the enemy. For the military their responsibility rests on providing security to the police and attacking guerrilla combatants. Finally, he emphasizes the development of a close working counsel, consisting of civil government, police and military leaders operating in a coordinated manner to defeat the insurgents.
Clutterbuck states that the initial effort in Malaya was to reestablish local government control in the villages. This was accomplished by substantially increasing the number of police and instituting strict controls over the population. Controls included registration of the people and issue of identity cards, curfews, food rationing, etc. He says that the population was to be convinced that strict constraints would remain in effect until their support of the insurgency ceased. Concomitant with these restraints is the need to provide security to the people, the government, and the police in an insurgency. Support provided by the peasants through guerrilla coercion continues until the people feel safe from the guerrillas. Popular confidence in the government comes from this security as well. Clutterbuck also states that the police must be protected from assassination and coercion in order to effectively do their jobs.
The communist insurgency in Malaya consisted of basically a two-pronged establishment according to Clutterbuck. There were combatant guerrillas and a guerrilla infrastructure. This political infrastructure provided intelligence and logistic support to the combatants and also served to control the local population. The logistics support actually came from the people through this political arm of the guerrilla movement. It was up to the local police force to counter this political arm. Clutterbuck is emphatic in his discussion of the importance of the police. They are the ones who live in the village , know the people and can control them. It is up to them to enforce the controls established by the government. The police in Malaya conducted daily searches of the people looking for rice being smuggled out to the guerrillas and made identity card checks which could indicate who were strangers to a village. Also, they would be tasked with enforcing curfews to prevent night forays into the jungle by guerrilla supporters attempting to make contact with the political and combatant guerrillas.
Clutterbuck makes it quite evident that the police had the primary role in ferreting out the political arm of the guerrilla movement. At the lowest level the police were in an ideal position to locate the communist political cells (masses executives) in the village. By developing intelligence through interrogation and investigation they were able to identify the members of these cells, couriers for the guerrillas, suppliers, etc. By turning these people into what Clutterbuck calls 'police agents', the local police were able to gather significant information about the location of Malayan Communist Party branches which controlled guerrilla activities around and within several villages. These branches, says Clutterbuck, provided detailed information and logistical support to the combatants as well as providing political insurgency within the villages.