Insurgents win through the people. Gaining legitimacy either through reforming the current government or replacing it. Which brings us first to the skies above Korea and then to the mountains of Afghanistan before ending in Massachusetts. Col. Boyd was a fighter pilot in Korea and the man who termed the phrase "OODA Loop". If you don't know what an OODA loop is, go Google.
Col. Boyd noted that American F-86's were shooting down Russian Mig-15's at about a 3:1 kill to loss ratio. When Col. Boyd started looking for WHY that was, he eliminated pilot skill by comparing Russian Pilots and American Pilot kill ratios against the Luftwaffe in WWII, and the ratios were essentially the same.
So why were they different over the Korean peninsula?
As he continued his investigation Col. Boyd found that the cockpit of the Mig-15 has a very limited view and the pilot can not see behind him at all. In comparison with the F-86 which had a great big bubble canopy providing excellent observation. And while the engine on the Mig was more powerful, giving it an altitude advantage, the hydraulics were better on the F-86, giving it a slight maneuverability advantage.
Col. Boyd wrote about how hard it was to bring down Migs even with the six 50 caliber machine guns on the Saber, but as long as the pilot could use his maneuverability advantage to get where the Mig pilot couldn't see, eventually any decision the Mig pilot made would be irrelevant to the outcome of the dogfight. The very minor detail of cockpit design from an engineering standpoint became a very significant tactical advantage.
Facing a modern government insurgent have to be masters of "fast cycle" operations to stay inside of the OODA loop of the .gov. In the movie "The Next Three Days" Russel Crowe writes 15 and 35 on his wrist to remind him how long it will take the .gov to shut down the city center and then the city periphery. This is a very good example of a concrete reminder of the short reaction time that someone seeking to do something of which the .gov disapproves has to successfully complete their operation.
Now back to an insurgency. Fast cycle operations have to be complete before all the technological might of the .gov can be brought to bear. Short, quick, raids are a good example. As are IED attacks. Something that causes the .gov to go "huh?" and commit assets to respond. Insurgents have to be gone before the UAV/Helicopter/Spyplane flies overhead and begins directing the movement and maneuver of ground forces.
Fast cycle attacks are what Al Quaeda and Taliban forces are conducting in Afghanistan. We have lost more Soldiers there in the last two years than all the years under Bush combined. This is because an Insurgent will win simply by staying on the battlefield, and President Obama has already committed to a timeline for withdrawal. It is now a race between US Forces to train the Afghan Security Forces to do their job quicker than the bad guys can tear down the progress.
Slow cycle operations are things that take years of recon to end in a day of disaster. Think USS Cole and 9/11 for examples. On a different front, think "Heller" and "McDonald", years of work for one day of victory giving a *hopefully* lasting reform.
Let's go to Tucson for a moment. What did the mainstream media, and even the local sheriff blame for the shooting right away? Conservative rhetoric. By blaming conservative ideology they tried to equate the Tea Party as an insurgent group and Sarah Palin as the leader. The sad fact is that they their lies make their point a truth, that conservatives looking to reform the government are in fact a reformist insurgency.
And currently everything is still legal. No one has resorted to shooting, bombing, kidnapping, murdering, demolishing, poisoning, or terrorism. So far it has been people on the internet and alternative media writing, organizing, and working within the system to change it.
However when the police of Arlington Massachusetts confiscated Travis Corcoran's property and firearms license without charging him with a crime, the rules of the game were fundamentally changed. By protesting an overarching government that trashes the Constitution Travis had the government respond in violation of the Constitution.
When the .gov responds, it's for real. Will the next battle be in the courts? Or will the next battle be on the streets? I hope it is in the courts, and I pray we win.