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A white army cannot defeat a conventional army

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By Nyakuma Chuol

Fighting a government is not easy. The ragtag villagers who attacked the government forces in Pagak on Friday were badly defeated. Some Ethiopian Nuer villagers joined the fighting thinking they would get things to loot. But what they got turned out to be death.

My uncle in Kuergeng town of Ethiopia told me that two Ethiopian Nuer from Thiang section were killed on Friday. Seven were wounded and the seven wounded are now in Gambella hospital.

What kind of a rebellion would use sections and clans as its fighting force? SPLM-IO has no standing army of its own like the SPLM/A under John Garang during the liberation struggle.

The fighting forces of the IO are villagers who are poorly trained to fight a conventional army. Besides, they don’t have ammunition and hospitals to treat their wounded.

With Ethiopian Defense Force closing the border, where will the wounded villagers get treatment? The Red Cross hospital in Maiwut is closed. MSF left the Eastern Nuer because of clashes.

The question the Nuer in the U.S. who are fueling the war should ask is: Where will they treat the wounded villagers they are now funding to fight the Government? Ethiopia is now closed and NGOs left, meaning that they will not get hospitals for treatment.

The government forces in Pagak do not have a problem of supply because they have gunships. Their wounded would be airlifted to Juba for treatment.

The government forces are a combination of many tribes Nuer included. A conventional army is always reinforced. But who will reinforce Gajaak villagers when they are dying in numbers?

The disadvantages of a tribe waging a war against a government are many. The first disadvantage is a war fatigue. Once the youth are tired of fighting without rest, they always give up. That is what happened in Nasir town. The government forces captured Nasir town in May 2014. Up to now, the Gajiok youth cannot defeat them because of war fatigue.

Fighting a conventional army cannot be done by villagers. Government troops are always changed and replaced. But Nuer youth cannot be replaced because there are no reserved fighters to replace them.

A rebellion which relies on civil youth as a fighting force cannot succeed. Lou Nuer captured Bor town but they didn’t stay there because that was not their objective. Gajiok White Army captured Malakal town and left.

Nuer White Armies do not have objectives of capturing towns to stay like a traditional rebel movement. Their objective is to attack a town and leave.

Dr Riek Machar has never organized a professional rebel movement that can capture towns to stay like any liberation movement whose aim is to topple the government. The reliance of the SPLM-IO on Nuer White Armies is the reason why it cannot defeat the government troops.

A force that can defeat the government is a force that can attack towns to stay. That is what SPLA did to Sudan government in 1980s. But the nature of a Nuer White Army is that it is a marauding force that can attack a town without the objective to stay and defend it.

From an analytical point of view, Riek Machar’s faction cannot defeat the government troops in Pagak because of the factors explained above.

Nyakuma Chuol is South Sudanese contributor based in New York



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