Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hearts and minds

It is now taken as a given that winning the 'hearts and minds' of a population is one of the cornerstones of a successful counter-insurgency campaign (with both the insurgents and the forces of the government trying to win over the populace).  The phrase 'hearts and minds' is often used these days, but its origin is perhaps less well known.  It was first coined by General Sir Gerald Templer after he was appointed as High Commissioner in Malaya in 1952, with a brief to end the Malayan Emergency.  He also took on the role of Director of Operations (DirOps).  He famously stated that:

"The answer lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people."

Some say that Templer merely built on the work that had been put in place before his arrival.  The previous High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, had been assassinated in a Communist ambush in 1951.  Templer inherited a sound operational and strategic framework, conceived by Gurney and then implemented by Lieutenant General Sir Harold Briggs, Templer's predecessor as DirOps.

A dynamic and inspirational leader, Templer demanded that newly built villages, where ethnic Chinese were resettled away from the jungles and beyond the reach (and influence) of the guerrillas, look inviting. To further gain the 'hearts and minds' of the non-Malays, who were the main source of communist support, Templer fought to grant Malayan citizenship to over 2.6 million Malayan residents, 1.1 million of whom were Chinese. Templer sought political and social equality for all Malayans.

For more information see:

Templer: Tiger of Malaya by John Cloake (ISBN: 978-0245542046.  Hardcover - 27 Jun 1985)

Gerald Templer - Wikipedia

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