Small Wars Lecture Series

5 Sep - The Battle of Annual, Dr. William Dean

4 Oct - Foreign Internal Defense, Lt Col Greg
Metzgar

18 Oct - The Battles of Fallujah, Mr. Bing West

14 Nov - Principles of Counterinsurgency, Lt Gen
David Petraeus

10 Jan - Eating Soup with a Knife, Lt Col John Nagl

28 Feb - Globalizing Insurgency, Dr. Lewis Griffith
A Forgotten Small War:
Spain, the Battle of Annual,
and the Rif War 1921-1927
William Dean
DEI
Small Wars Lecture Series
September 5, 2006
Game Plan

Origins of Spain’s Colonial Conquest of Morocco

Spanish Colonial Army on the Eve of Annual

Brothers Abdel Krim

Disaster of Annual

Consequences of Annual

Coalition War against the Rif Republic


Secret History of WMD
Army of Africa and the Spanish Civil War
A History of Colonial War

1895-98 Spanish colonial
army fought insurgents
in Cuba, Philippines



Spanish army in Cuba

Some of the veterans
would fight in Morocco
Very brutal campaigns
with extensive use of
concentration camps
Spanish colonial army
did poorly in symmetric
war against U.S.
Defeat of 1898 was a
trauma for Spanish
Army
Early Moroccan Campaigns




Sultan Abdel Aziz
1908 - Spain invaded
Morocco
At this time French
advancing in southern
two-thirds of Colony
Made possible by 1906
Great Power conference in Algeciras
Technically, Spanish
working for Moroccan
sultan Abdel Aziz who
could not control area
Early Opponents and Cultural Context





El Raisuni

Most inhabitants in
Spanish zone were Berbers
Two early opponents were
El Rogui and El Raisuni
Spanish believed they were
spreading western
civilization
Spanish mining interests
became very important
Spanish disrupted local
economy
Spanish regarded French
as competitors
The State of the Early Spanish Army
in Morocco




Spanish conscripts

Army composed of
Spanish conscripts with
minimal training, poor
equipment
Top heavy with officers
Poor maps
Officers failed to learn
from 1890s counterinsurgencies
Inappropriate tactics
against Rifians
The Birth of the Army of Africa




Barranco del Lobo aftermath

At Barranco del Lobo (July
1909) a Spanish column
was decimated with over a
thousand casualties
Led to campaign of
revenge - birth of Army of
Africa
Soon units of Muslim
regulars were created
1909-11 the Spanish
expanded their holdings
At the same time the
French expanded their
control in Morocco
Spanish Military Policy in Morocco
1911-1921


Capital established in Tetuan
Tried to get cooperation of local
elites




Aerodrome at Tetuan, 1913

Halfhearted war with El Raisuni
Many bribes were made to
Moroccan elites
Spanish Army in charge of daily
security ops, contacts with tribes,
collection of taxes, law and order
Few civic works or improvement
of local economy or
infrastructure
Spanish military govt told
soldiers to respect local culture
but this was rarely obeyed
Morocco during World War I



French Foreign Legion sentry,
Atlas Mountains
During WWI German
agents try to provide
money and weapons to
Moroccans in French
and Spanish Morocco
France barely held
onto colony during war
In 1917 Spanish govt
changes system of pay
and promotion angered Army of
Africa
Abdel Krim Family Cooperates with
Spain


Sidi Abdel Krim el Khattabi influential judge from Ajdir
Received pension from
Spanish, collaborated with
them along with two sons


Brothers Mhamed (L) and
Mohammed (R) Abdel Krim

Pragmatic collaboration
Elder son Mohammed
worked as journalist and
judge while younger brother
studied in Madrid
During war Mohammed
imprisoned by Spanish, who
poisoned father in 1920
Spanish Army on the Eve of Anual


Budget for campaign
inadequate
Spanish Foreign Legion
created in 1920




General Damaso Berenguer
Jose Millan Astray
Many problems that had
existed in 1909 still existed
Many Spanish evaded call
up
Overall commander was
General Berenguer commander at Annual was
General Silvestre
Major Problems of the Spanish Army

Poor IPB - unaware that
Krim brothers formed an
army against them



Poor artillery and machine
guns, shortage of ammo
Spanish forces spread out
over eastern front in a
series of block houses

Rif region - northern Morocco

As late as May 1921 Krim
promised loyalty to Spain
Posts were far from water
and hard to supply
Silvestre overconfident due
to previous experience
The Spanish Offensive

June 1921 Spanish front in
eastern Morocco stretched
80 km and was 92 km from
major city of Melilla




Spanish gunners firing on Moroccans
Huge logistical problems
Regardless, Silvestre
launched ambitious
offensive with insufficient
troops, equipment, logistics
No reserve near front line
Spanish advance consisted
of 3-pronged attack near Al
Hoceima (heart of Abdel
Krim’s territory)
The Capture of Abbaran (June 1)





Mt Abbaran
Silvestre warned by intel that
Beni Urriaguel tribe was
massing for offensive
Despite this Spanish set up
exposed post on Mt Abbaran
Beni Urriaguel cut barbed
wire and rushed the position
Native police turned on
Spanish comrades and shot
them
Defeat important in
psychological terms, many
chiefs were under great
pressure not to collaborate
Advance to Igueriben


Despite setback at Abarran
Silvestre continued
advance, built 4 new
blockhouses
One on Mt Igueriben 6 km
south of Annual


On July 17 Abdel Krim’s
forces attacked, besieged
position for four days


Water supply for 300 men
4.5 km away


Igueriben troops
Garrison's water ran out,
men drank urine or ink
Mule carcasses exploded
from heat, artillery shells
ran out
Silvestre’s forces could
not relieve them
Garrison given surrender
order, but charged
Riffians or committed
suicide
Nowhere to Hide at Annual


After Igueriben, Silvestre
was over-extended, had to
retreat back to Melilla
Line of retreat cut off,
looked for airpower help



Spanish defenders

Not enough aircraft
Wanted to retreat to the
coast but navy could not
evacuate
Berenguer could not
organize rescue force fast
enough and was fighting a
campaign in the west
Failure of Joint Ops
The Disaster of Annual

Silvestre could not decide
whether to retreat or dig in
at Annual


Quarreled with officers;
no unity of command
Meanwhile columns of
Rifians were advancing
on the camp



Many Regulares turned on
their Spanish officers
Panic seized officers and
enlisted
Artillery pieces abandoned
Legion's makeshift defenses
Collapse of Leadership
General don Manuel
Fernández Silvestre

Officers tore off their
insignia or fled in cars
filled with luggage

Silvestre went to his
tent and committed
suicide

Weapons, munitions,
money abandoned

Complete breakdown
of C2
Massacre at Izumar Pass
Mutilated Spanish corpses

Largest slaughter of
Spanish troops took
place at Izumar Pass

Women, children took
part in the slaughter

Spanish bodies
horribly mutilated

Hundreds of prisoners
taken in the retreat
Retreat to Melilla





Spanish column retreats
Spanish soldiers from
intermediate positions
joined retreat
Cavalry regiments
protected retreat
Largest munitions dump
in the Eastern blown up
Rifian guerillas reached
Gurugu mountains and
began shelling Melilla
4,000 Spanish soldiers
spread out between
Annual and Melilla and
1,800 in garrison
Monte Arruit

Spanish re-enforcements sent to
Melilla after campaign against El
Rasuni




Spanish corpses
at Monte Arruit


Legion forces led by Franco
Rifians besiege 3,000 Spanish troops
under Gen Navarro's command
Abdel Krim shelled fort with
artillery captured at Annual
Aircraft tried to drop supplies (ice)
unsuccessfully
Agreeing to terms, garrison
marched out of base and was
massacred
Last Spanish position outside of
The Cost of Annual
Annual memorial

Disaster lasted from
July 22nd till August 9th

Over 10,000 Spanish
troops were killed

Abdel Krim captured
rifles, radios, trucks,
aircraft, artillery

Worst Spanish colonial
catastrophe
Why the Disaster of Annual Happened






Spanish Regulares

Poor discipline caused by
poor pay and training
Failure to link training,
equipment and strategy
Poor intelligence led to
underestimating enemy
Misuse of Regulares
Poor military leadership
Africanistas blamed
civilian govt back home
Poor communications and
logistics
The Significance of Annual



Army of Africa, and briefly
civilian elites, focused on
revenge
Media now supported
military
Battle radicalized
Africanistas


Rif state banknote - never issued

Consequences for
Spanish Civil War
Middle class young men
now volunteered for duty
in Morocco
Abdel Krim now emerged
as leader of Rifians
Annual Compared to other Western
Military Disasters

Annual was one of the
worst defeats for a Western
power with profound
consequences




Custer's Crow scouts

Britain - Isandhlwana
(1879), Majuba Hill
(1880), Maiwand (1880)
U.S. - Custer’s Last Stand
(1876)
Italy - Adowa (1895)
Major defeats caused by
racial arrogance, poor IPB
None had the long lasting
consequences of Anual
The Forging of a Colonial Army
Alfonso XIII General
Aviation Badge (1913-1931)

Defeat of Annual led to
creation of an army within
an army

Distinct elites within Army
of Africa

Pilots, Officers of the
Legion and Regulares

Army now committed to
total war - less interested
in spreading Western
civilization
The Army of Abdel Krim


Abdel Krim’s army did not
capture Melilla because
grain harvest took priority
Set up sophisticated
system of command and
control



Moroccan soldiers

Spanish used SIGINT
Division between people
of the mountains and flat
landers
Two different languages:
Arabic and Shelja
Obtained weapons from
French
Army of Abdel Krim (cont)

At its peak - 90,000 soldiers

Capable of symmetric and
asymmetric warfare
Wanted to create a
Republic of the Rif


Wanted to modernize Rif


3rd International - Lenin speaking

Used secular and
religious motivations
Worked with labor unions
in Spain and France
Received rhetorical
support from Comintern
A Strategy of Peseta Diplomacy and
Aerial Bombardment




Farman Goliath

Counter-offensive was
launched (reconquista)
160,000 troops sent to
Morocco and 700 million
pesetas spent…only 35 km
of territory reconquered
Army morale sapped by
investigation commissions
Some tribes paid off to
join Spanish and more
aircraft sent to Morocco
More emphasis on
bombing
Spanish Airpower

First air squadron arrived
in Morocco in 1913



Defeat of Annual
increased reliance of
airpower
Spanish developed
systematic air campaign
ops between 1921-25

de Havilland 4 - RCAF 1921
Initially used for ISR


Learned tactics from RAF
Over 150 aircraft
De Havilland 4s, Bristol
fighters, French Farman
Goliaths, German
Fokkers
Spanish Airpower (continued)

Spanish planes dropped
mustard gas, incendiaries, HE






Bristol fighter crash


Psychological impact
important
Targets included souks,
livestock, Abdel Krim's HQ
Primitive bombing equipment
Accuracy not important
Planes had to swoop low
Effective Rifian AAA led to
loss of several aircraft
Aircraft used in re-supply of
encircled posts
Aircraft used for CSAR
Spanish Pilots
Capitan Antonio Arias

Privileged elite

Anarchists of Spanish
army; each flew as it
suited him best

Air training school
with tennis courts and
swimming pools

Pilots more politically
progressive than
officers in Legion or
Regulares
A Secret History of Chemical Warfare



After Annual mustard and phosgene
fired by artillery, dropped by aircraft
Force enhancer and adoption of total
war; WMD part of strategy
Spanish bought WMD from Germans


Mustard gas
production facility, 1921

Operational problems using gas


German technicians built, worked in
gas factories in Spain and Morocco
Created future bond between
Africanistas and German Army
(Condor legion)
Spanish army did not have gas masks
Abdel Krim tried to use WMD
Other Nations and Chemical Warfare

1916 - France used gas in Tunisia


Civilian targets, use of goums
and aircraft
France used gas in Rif war

Italians used gas in Libyan
pacification campaigns

“I do not understand this squeamishness
about the use of gas, I am strongly in
favor of using poison gas against
uncivilized tribes” - Winston Churchill

British used gas against Kurds
and in Iraq in 1920s
After Versailles gas not allowed
against Europeans but could be
employed in Africa, Asia
French goums

Primo de Rivera and Morocco
Primo de Rivera, 1923

1923 - Primo de Rivera
seized control of govt;
stayed in control until 1931

Government =
constitutional monarchy,
but Alphonso XIII was a
figurehead

de Rivera initially against
Moroccan campaign, but
became supporter in 1924

Ended trials of
Africanistas
Strategic Background of a Coalition War

Spanish consolidated
position in fall of 1924 at
Chauen

Chauen
Heavy loss of life and
equipment

By April 1925 Abdel Krim
captured El Raisuni; freed
him for offensive against
French

Brother tried to buy
weapons in London and
met with Druze leaders
The Franco-Spanish War

In April 1925 Abdel Krim
attacks French Morocco





Fez, 1926

Confident after fighting
Spanish
French blockhouses in his
territory
43 out of 66 posts fall - Krim
comes within 20 km of Fez
French bring in 120,000
troops under Petain
In July rivals become
coalition partners
Abdel Krim’s strategic
mistake godsend to Spanish
Al Hoceima Amphibious Landing
September 1925






Spanish landing at Cebadilla Beach
near al Hoceima, 10 Sep 1925


Sep - coalition fleet and force
attacks Abdel Krim near HQ
Shelling from fleet and
bombardment form the air
First modern air/sea amphibious
landing
Abdel Krim prepared - good intel
Rifians attack other end of
protectorate, force Spanish to
weaken forces there
Rifians sink Spanish warship
with artillery
Numerous operational problems
landing Spanish troops
Rifians use IEDs on beach
Al Hoceima (continued)





Spanish fort Peñon de Alhuceimas
at al Hoceima
Rifian assaults against
Spaniards on beach failed
Spanish able to establish
bridgehead
In October 90,000 French
and Spanish troops
attacked Ajdir
French changed their
opinion of Spanish Army
Army of Africa had
dramatically improved
since Annual

Capable of combined ops
and air/land ops
The End of Abdel Krim

Nov 1925 to Apr 1926
French and Spanish forces
stayed in winter quarters



Spanish FT-17 tanks


Limited air ops
Krim could not find new
weapons, army melted
away
Caught between French
and Spanish pincer attacks
May 1926 - surrendered to
French
Minor fighting continued
until 1927
The Legacy of Abdel Krim
Moroccan soldiers

Exiled to Mauritius

Supported Arab
nationalist causes

Escaped to Cairo,
encouraged Arab soldiers
to desert French Army in
Indochina 1946-54

Supported FLN in Algeria

Abdel Krim is one of the
great non-Western
captains
Domestic Impact of the Rif War in
Spain and France






Sultan El-Atrash starts revolution
in 1928 against the French
Paris labor unions marched
in solidarity with Rifians
First time Left overtly
sympathized with thirdworld insurgency
Druze fight insurgency in
Syria in first coordinated
insurgencies
CGT in Madrid leads antiwar marches
Many soldiers oppose war
Rif War leads to greater
political polarization
Long Term Impact on Spain





1938 Teruel battle, Franco with 
Lt Col Medrano and Maj Barroso

Army of Africa becomes
radicalized, embraces fascism or
monarchy
Franco becomes major figure
When Spain becomes republic
Left antagonizes Africanistas
Africanistas launch campaign of
reconquista in 1936 to save Spain
from Communism and anarchy
Left becomes new Rifians
Germans aid Franco with aircraft
Spanish soldiers will fight on
Russian front (Blue Division)
The Rif War and Military History

Rif campaigns see change in
colonial war from fighting for
hearth and home to ideologically
motivated insurgency

Small arms trafficking
Dominant pattern until 1991

First insurgency where opponent
has high tech equipment

1st time counterinsurgent powers
have to develop air/land operations

Armor used for 1st time

SIGINT becomes factor

Arms trafficking important
Relevance for Today

There is a connection between strategy,
training, and equipment

Airpower is a blunt instrument in COIN

Systematic violation of human rights by the
military can have long term political
consequences and radicalize a military

Western militaries that underestimate nonwestern foes flirt with disaster

Understanding an opponents’ culture is a
necessary ingredient for victory
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A Forgotten Small War: Spain, the Battle of Annual, and