Victory Has a Thousand Fathers

Evidence of Effective Approaches to Counterinsurgency, 1978-2008

Published in: Small Wars Journal, Jan. 17, 2011, 12 p

Posted on on January 17, 2011

by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill

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Contemporary discourse on counterinsurgency is voluminous and often contentious, but to date there has been a dearth of systematic evidence supporting the various counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches advocated by various discussants. This analysis is based on all insurgencies worldwide begun and concluded between 1978 and 2008; 30 insurgencies in total. Among other things, the analysis offers strong support for 13 commonly offered approaches to COIN, and strong evidence against three. Further, the data show that good COIN practices tend to "run in packs" and that the balance of selected good and bad practices perfectly predicts insurgency outcomes. Data confirm the importance of popular support, but show that the ability to interdict tangible support (such as new personnel, materiel, and financing) is the single best predictor of COIN force success.

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