Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)


Liberal Arts

Document Type



Counterinsurgency is one of the most difficult forms of conflict an army can face. After defeating Spanish forces in Manila during the Spanish-American War, a well-developed insurrection, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, challenged the United States Army for nearly four years. Although the army in 1898 was unprepared for a large-scale, two-front war, it conducted an extremely effective counterinsurgency campaign 7000 miles from home in inhospitable terrain. Despite lacking a formal, written counterinsurgency doctrine, the frontier experiences of the army, orally passed on from one generation of soldiers to the next, provided invaluable lessons that could be applied in the Philippines. This was only of limited benefit, however, since the vast majority of soldiers who fought in the Philippines were volunteers, with limited military experience. The army's senior leaders, many veterans of the Civil War and Indian campaigns, were able to apply their experiences and develop effective strategies to counter the insurrection. General Elwell S. Otis immediately realized that a military solution alone would not end the insurgency. By implementing President William McKinley's policy of benevolent assimilation, Otis attempted drive a wedge between the Philippine people and the guerrillas. The insurgents countered this tactic by resorting to a campaign of terror to insure continued support from the people. Otis' subordinates, realizing policy of attraction had failed, then developed and implemented a strategy designed to isolate the guerillas from their base of support, the village, and then defeat the guerrillas militarily. This strategy, belatedly endorsed by General Arthur MacArthur, eventually caused the collapse of the insurrection in many areas of the Philippines. In the final stages of the conflict, the army adopted more repressive measures, which stiffened resistance. Only when the Americans employed the policies of conciliation and repression in the correct proportion were they able to end the insurrection.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Stanley Hilton