Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 30 Insurgencies, 1978-2008

Published In: Military Operations Research, v. 17, no. 2, 2012, p. 19-40

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill

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We use Charles Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to quantitatively test the performance of 20 distinct counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches against the historical record. The five main takeaways from the research were: (1) effective COIN practices tend to run in packs; (2) the balance of effective versus detrimental COIN practices discriminates all 30 cases into wins or losses without recourse to narratives of exceptionality; (3) poor beginnings don't necessarily lead to poor endings; (4) repression wins phases, but usually not cases; (5) insurgent tangible support appears to be a critical center of gravity. Our results provide useful recommendations for US engagement in and support for COIN operations.

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