This research brief describes work documented in Operations Against Enemy Leaders (MR-1385-AF).

Excerpt: Operations that threaten the person and power of senior enemy decisionmakers have long been considered to be promising instruments for shortening wars, affecting other changes in enemy policy and behavior, and degrading enemy war-fighting capability. Over the years, the United States has mounted both overt and covert operations to kill enemy leaders directly or to secure their overthrow either by indigenous coup or rebellion or by external invasion and takedown. In Operations Against Enemy Leaders, Stephen T. Hosmer analyzes some two dozen cases of attacks on leadership from World War II to the present. From this information, he distills policy and operational lessons regarding the comparative efficacy and prerequisites for success of different forms of attack, their potential coercive and deterrent value, and the possible unintended consequences of their ill-considered use.

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