Robert Grainger Ker Thompson

Infobox Military Person
name= Robert G. K. Thompson

battles= Burma Campaign during World War II
Malayan Emergency
awards= Order of the British Empire (KBE)
Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Military Cross (MC)
Sir Robert Grainger Ker Thompson KBE CMG DSO MC (1916–1992) was a British military officer and counter-insurgency expert.

Thompson was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Reserve in 1936. He fought as a Chindit in the Burma Campaign during World War II, being promoted Flight Lieutenant in 1943 and Squadron Leader in 1945. He was senior RAF air support adviser to the brigade commander. In the 1950s he served as Permanent Secretary of Defence for Malaya with the local rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and, working closely with General Gerald Templer, was a major player in the defeat of the communist insurgency during the Malayan Emergency.

In September 1961 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan appointed him head of the newly established BRIAM (British Advisory Mission) to South Vietnam - and by extension Washington. Thompson conceived of an initiative he called the Delta plan but when he saw the effects of the strategic hamlets initiative, begun in February 1962 he became an enthusiastic backer, telling President Kennedy in 1963 that he felt the war could be won. Under Thompson's leadership BRIAM put economic pressure on the South Vietnamese government that Thompson described as "an invitation to a coup".

Kennedy was receptive to Thompson's ideas but the American military establishment were extremely reluctant to implement them. His warning not to bomb villages went unheeded and his dismissal of American air supremacy was ignored. "The war [will] be won by brains and on foot", he told Kennedy but competing interests in Washington and Saigon acted to marginalise Thompson and ultimately his strategies had no real effect on the conflict. He stepped down from BRIAM in 1965 and the organisation, deprived of the man who was essentially its raison d'etre, folded up around him.

Despite his relatively acrimonious criticism of United States policy in Vietnam, Thompson returned to a post assisting the American government in 1969 when he became a special advisor on "pacification" to President Nixon.

In later life Thompson wrote extensively about the use of commandos and counter-insurgency operations in Asymmetric warfare.

Published works

* "Judgement on Major General O C Wingate, DSO", written on behalf of the [ Chindits Old Comrades Association] in collaboration with Brigadier P. W. Mead ( [ Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives] )
* "Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences in Malaya and Vietnam (Study in International Security)", Chatto & Widus, 1966, ISBN 0-7011-1133-X
* "America fights the wrong war", The Spectator, 12 August 1966
* "Royal Flying Corps (Famous Regts. S)",L Cooper, 1968, ISBN 0-85052-010-X
* "Squaring the Error" in Foreign Affairs April 1968. (An issue with 4 articles on Vietnam the other three authors were by Roger Hilsman, Chester L. Cooper and Hamilton Fish Armstrong).
*"No Exit From Vietnam", David McKay company, Inc., New York, 1969 ,ISBN 0-7011-1494-0
* Interviewed by Frank Reynolds on ABC-TV December 17 1969
*"Revolutionary Warfare in World Strategy", Taplinger Publishing Co., 1970
*" [ Peace Is Not At Hand] " New York: David McKay,London: Chatto and Windus, 1974, ISBN 0-7011-2057-6
* Chapter "Read Bases and Sanctuaries" in "Lessons of Vietnam", editors Thompson, W. Scott and Donaldson D. Frizzell, Pub Taylor & Francis, Incorporated, 1977
*"War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945",(consultant editor) 1981, Octopuss Publishing Limited, London, ISBN 0-85613-341-8
*"Make for the Hills", an autobiography, London, Pen & Sword Books/Leo Cooper, 1989, ISBN 0-85052-761-9

External links

* [ Chapter IV: Sir Robert Thompson's Counterinsurgency Concepts] [ PDF] is an analysis of his "Defeating Communist Insurgency"
* [ King's College London Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives] reference to some newspaper articles published by Sir Robert Thompson.
* [ British resettlement village model during the Malayan Emergency, and early American involvement in Vietnam] Relies heavily on Sir Robert Thompson's analysis

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