The military response to direct action, General Kitson’s manual

General Frank Kitson's 1971 counter-insurgency manual Low Intensity Operations has long been of interest to students of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Within months of its publication, its author was commanding 39 Brigade in Belfast where he pioneered the use of the Parachute Regiment as shock troops, and of plain-clothes 'counter-gangs' to combat paramilitary groups.

However, what struck me most when I obtained a copy recently was not the book's obvious significance for such controversial episodes, but its striking relevance to events in Britain in recent weeks.

That's because Kitson gives considerable attention to the question of how a government can combat a campaign of non-violent direct action. He devotes a whole chapter to the subject, despite showing considerable scepticism about the value of direct action as a tactic.

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