Features common in Guerrilla wars:
1) Conventional forces tend to outnumber irregular troops.
2) Conventional forces have better weapons.
3) Conventional forces have better training. (A large reason why atrocities tend to occur on the irregular troop side.)
4) Conventional forces have better firepower.
5) It is in the interest of conventional force to have greater amounts of combat. The more combat, the better. The difficulty is in bringing the irregular troops to battle.
6) Typical strategy of ‘insurgent’ side is to outlast the enemy. Get them to quit. Because they
can’t stand up in a straight fight, ‘insurgents’ tend to attempt to gain local advantages and bite
off small bits of the conventional army. (Small battles)
Irregular warfare has been with us since organized armies. As the features listed above indicate, irregular warfare is usually not chosen because the fighters want it this way, but because this is the only effective method of organized resistance that is practical without the inferior units being wiped out. Many examples throughout history are available where the guerrilla units fought with distinction and honor. Although atrocities occur in EVERY war, irregular warfare has tended to spur more atrocities than usually occur. Two of the reasons for this are:
1) Conventional forces prefer to fight against other conventional forces. It is a frustrating type of warfare, in a way that siege warfare is frustrating for the combatants.
2) Lack of training on the irregular side does not hinder the occurrence of atrocities. When the conventional forces find out about atrocities, it becomes more difficult to hold the conventional forces back from retaliation.
I have noted that irregular warfare is rampant throughout the Islamic world today. All this tells us is that Islamic forces are subject to many of the six features that I have listed above. What does distinguish much of the warfare that Islamic forces are involved in today is the level of brutality. This cannot be explained away by just the fact that Islamic forces do not tend to be well trained. (As most, if not all irregular forces tend to be.) Once again, I would like to point out a comparison with the code of Bushido and the brutality that occurred with even well-trained Japanese forces.