Insurgent Learning

58 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2017 Last revised: 21 Jun 2017

See all articles by Francesco Trebbi

Francesco Trebbi

Vancouver School of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eric Weese

Yale University Department of Economics

Austin L. Wright

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Andrew Shaver

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

We study a model of insurgent learning during a counterinsurgency campaign. We test empirical implications of the model using newly declassified microdata documenting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2014. This period was characterized by substantial US investments in anti-IED technology and equipment. We find no evidence of decreasing effectiveness of IEDs across time. Qualitative evidence suggests that this is due to innovations in IED devices and tactics. Our results are robust to numerous alternative specifications, and yield insights on a technological revolution in insurgent violence—the proliferation and evolution of IEDs—with implications for scholarship on civil conflict and future investment in tactical countermeasures.

Suggested Citation

Trebbi, Francesco and Weese, Eric and Wright, Austin L. and Shaver, Andrew, Insurgent Learning (June 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23475. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2980583

Francesco Trebbi (Contact Author)

Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

University of British Columbia
6000 Iona Dr.
Vancouver Canada, BC V6T 1L4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ftrebbi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eric Weese

Yale University Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Austin L. Wright

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.austinlwright.com

Andrew Shaver

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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