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Thread: Victory Has a Thousand Fathers (by RAND)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Victory Has a Thousand Fathers (by RAND)

    I do not recall spotting this 2010 RAND paper appearing on SWC; the full title is 'Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency' by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill

    RAND's summary:
    Insurgency has been the most prevalent form of armed conflict since at least 1949, as well as the subject of countless historical and contemporary studies. Contemporary discourse on the subject is voluminous and often contentious, but to date there has been a dearth of systematic evidence supporting the counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches, practices, and tenets that make for successful operations. 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. A companion volume, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Detailed Counterinsurgency Case Studies, presents in-depth profiles of each of the insurgencies.
    Link:http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG964.html

    I noticed a reference to the RAND paper in an Australian think tank, the Lowry Institute's emailing, with comments - opening with:
    I extracted conflict duration from the dataset and analysed it. (My emphasis) The proposition that time favours the insurgent is totally wrong. The longer an insurgency lasts, the more likely the counterinsurgent is to win. If the duration of the conflict is broken into four year periods we find that there were 11 insurgencies that lasted four years or less and the insurgent won 10 of these. There were four insurgencies that lasted between 5-8 years and the insurgent won all four. There were eight insurgencies that lasted between 9-12 and the insurgent won five of these. Of the seven insurgencies that lasted longer than 12 years the counterinsurgent won four. The probability of success shifts in the counterinsurgent favour after the tenth year. Of the 30 most recently resolved insurgencies the counterinsurgent only won once in less than ten years. Once an insurgency enters the 11th year the counterinsurgent’s likelihood of winning increases to 55%. This rate increases as more time passes.
    Link:http://lowyinterpreter.org/post/2011...te-110310.aspx

    Then:http://lowyinterpreter.org/post/2011...y-of-COIN.aspx

    Followed by:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...nsurgency.aspx

    Which I note refers to a paper by David Killcullen.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    30 cases. This is borderline for statistical significance.

    RAND used to be an operations research hot spot with much math behind their studies. It seems as if they were ready to drop that if it becomes a nuisance.

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    Council Member G Martin's Avatar
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    This was covered in a few posts on the blog. Lots of comments on how there didn't seem to be enough cases, most dealt with the colonial period, they seemed to cherry-pick examples that backed-up 3-24, and critical of its premise that you can distill some principles from past examples- no matter how broad- and apply them to present/future insurgencies. We're looking for a template and think we've found it- so we're ignoring possible evidence to the contrary. And now a Rand study "proves" we are okay to ignore inconsistencies.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Previous comments on the RAND study

    G Martin,

    Thanks for the pointer to SWJ Blog. I found a short version of the RAND report on:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...p/650-paul.pdf

    That had no posts attached, but this did, albeit only two:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...st-for-counte/ and another:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...-study-is-muc/

    Using a different search:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...usand-fathers/

    I think that covers it!
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Which I note refers to a paper by David Killcullen.
    Boy did I like that paper by Kilcullen and Gorka. Especially the last paragraph which says (my paraphrase)-quit fooling around with trying to pick the correct field manual, doctrine and label to apply, find out who is fighting you, why they are fighting you then figure out what to do.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Boy did I like that paper by Kilcullen and Gorka. Especially the last paragraph which says (my paraphrase)-quit fooling around with trying to pick the correct field manual, doctrine and label to apply, find out who is fighting you, why they are fighting you then figure out what to do.
    And because soldiers are rotated through Afghanistan so rapidly they will never fully understand who is fighting them and why. Forget about the rest. So what you see is the experts (6 months in country) trying to teach those preparing for a first tour what to do and expect in the great tradition of the blind leading the blind.

    The war is lost. All that remains to be seen is just how badly.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The war is lost. All that remains to be seen is just how badly.
    You may be right. I remain hopeful though. I have great confidence in the ability of the guys on the spot to figure something out. And remember too, a lot of those guys have multiple tours.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    You may be right. I remain hopeful though. I have great confidence in the ability of the guys on the spot to figure something out. And remember too, a lot of those guys have multiple tours.
    A couple of points. You don't have to wait for the fat lady to sing before you know its over. Generally they (the politicians and the generals) start to fudge the aim/mission in relation to the horrible truth that is beginning to dawn. Then the "guys on the spot" just don't have the power to really influence policy/strategy/tactics at any more than a very local level. Finally the gap between tours make true and effective continuity of manpower impossible. Sometimes a soldier carrying forward outdated experiences from the past is more of a liability than a fresh one who tends to suck in the knowledge like a dry sponge and adapt quicker.

    You don't know how much I wish I was wrong, this is a head and a heart thing.
    Last edited by JMA; 04-08-2011 at 04:04 PM.

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