Rebel Capacity and Randomized Combat

24 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2017 Last revised: 10 Sep 2017

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Jarnickae Wilson

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Austin Wright

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 1, 2017

Abstract

Classic theories of counterinsurgency claim rebel forces execute attacks in an unpredictable manner to limit the government’s ability to anticipate and defend against them. We study a model of combat during an irregular insurgency. We test empirical implications of the model using newly declassified military records and granular data on opium production and farmgate prices from Afghanistan. Consistent with our model, we find that rebel capacity influences the technologies of war: as rebel strength increases, it becomes easier to distinguish the within-day timing of attacks from random noise. These findings clarify how the accumulation of resources by armed groups can alter rebel tactics.

Keywords: counterinsurgency, rebel tactics, opium production

JEL Classification: O1, P48

Suggested Citation

Sonin, Konstantin and Wilson, Jarnickae and Wright, Austin, Rebel Capacity and Randomized Combat (September 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3030736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3030736

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Jarnickae Wilson

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Austin Wright

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

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