Storm Troopers Draining the Swamps? On the Relationship between Conventional and Unconventional Military Effectiveness
Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 24 Jul 2012
Date Written: 2011
Policymakers increasingly express concern about possible trade-offs in military effectiveness between counterinsurgency (COIN) operations and conventional interstate wars. However, the literature lacks systematic theoretical accounts or thorough empirical analyses for this. As a first step toward addressing this gap, this paper draws upon the concepts of organizational learning and develops an argument on how optimizing a country’s military doctrine, i.e., its force structure and military routine, for one type of warfare might affect its performance in the other. Here, the authors first contend that countries’ involvement in and experiences from past COIN operations negatively influence military effectiveness in current interstate wars.
Second, they also claim that this holds the other way round, i.e., previous interstate war involvements and experiences make it less likely that states actually win their present COIN operations. For testing the derived hypotheses, the paper employs a quantitative framework that addresses the claimed simultaneity between conventional and unconventional military effectiveness and introduces explanatory variables therein, which capture the organizational experiences of national militaries in those different kinds of conflict. The results indicate that countries’ involvement in conventional wars is likely to hamper effective COINs, but not vice versa.
Keywords: Conventional Interstate Wars; Unconventional Counterinsurgency Operations; Military Effectiveness; Organizational Learning
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