The term exit strategy is misleading because it elevates exit considerations over and above the demands of proper goal setting and mission accomplishment in limited engagements. Despite this fact, developing an appropriate exit strategy is mandated by the Clausewitzean framework that suggests three components: 1. a clear statement of the political objectives to be pursued; 2. a derivative group of operational goals that must be secured; and 3. a set of fallback options that must be anticipated if the original objectives and goals cannot be attained. Examining six U.S. interventions with a view to understanding whether and how exit strategies were integrated into entry decision-making, this study finds that they have been well integrated only in the case of high-level interventions. They have been mostly neglected in low- and mid-level interventions, even though the latter incur all the potential hazards associated with high-level engagements.
Originally published in: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, v. 19, 1996, pp. 117-151.
This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.