"disorder ... is cheap to create, but very costly to prevent"
January 30, 2015 2:24 PM   Subscribe

RAND’s ‘Paths to Victory': A valuable new study of what works in COIN campaigns — and also of what doesn’t
Paths to Victory [PDF]
When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? Contemporary discourse on this subject is voluminous and often contentious. Advice for the counterinsurgent is often based on little more than common sense, a general understanding of history, or a handful of detailed examples, instead of a solid, systematically collected body of historical evidence. A 2010 RAND study challenged this trend with rigorous analyses of all 30 insurgencies that started and ended between 1978 and 2008. This update to that original study expanded the data set, adding 41 new cases and comparing all 71 insurgencies begun and completed worldwide since World War II.
The 2010 study is Victory Has A Thousand Fathers [PDF]
Relying on a collection of the 30 most recent resolved insurgencies, along with a bank of factors that helped or hindered the COIN force in each case and in each phase of each case, several commonalities emerge. For instance, the data show that good COIN practices tend to “run in packs” and that the balance of selected good and bad practices perfectly predicts the outcome of a conflict. The importance of popular support is confirmed, but the ability to interdict tangible support (such as new personnel, materiel, and financing) is the single best predictor of COIN force success. Twenty distinct approaches to COIN are rigorously tested against the historical record, providing valuable lessons for U.S. engagement in and support for COIN operations.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:23 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was just staring at my comps list and this pops up. Cool; thanks!
posted by Palindromedary at 6:51 PM on January 30, 2015

What are you going for?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:10 PM on January 30, 2015

Broadly, military history. More specifically, British strategic planning in the Second World War. I got to make my own comps list, so I filled it with organization, doctrine, and strategy, plus a bunch of theory stuff like this. Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice is my reading of his, but this looks like a series of wonderful supplements to it that I'll likely read for enjoyment on my own time, when my own time is a thing that exists again.
posted by Palindromedary at 10:17 PM on January 30, 2015

More specifically, British strategic planning in the Second World War.

I'm not actually up on the Brits. Let's talk about who I am familiar with instead!

Joesph Gallieni had a long and storied career in French colonies before leading the taxis of the Marne. Notorious in Madagascar too.

Over in the USSR, you should know Mikhail Tukhachevsky, 'The Red Bonaparte', killed in 1937 in the purge. He helped develop Deep battle (an alternate view) which helped introduce the 'operational' level of command and control (between strategic and tactical). And, of course, Zhukov.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2015

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