Rebel Capacity and Combat Tactics

102 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2017 Last revised: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by Konstantin Sonin

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Austin L. Wright

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 23, 2020

Abstract

Classic and modern theories of rebel warfare emphasize the role of unexpected attacks against better equipped government forces. We test implications of a model of combat and information-gathering using highly detailed data about Afghan rebel attacks, insurgent-led spy networks, and counterinsurgent operations. Timing of rebel operations responds to changes in the group’s access to resources, and main effects are significantly enhanced in areas where rebels have the capacity to spy on and infiltrate military installations. Results are supplemented with numerous robustness checks as well as a novel IV approach that uses machine learning and high frequency data on local agronomic inputs. Consistent with the model, shocks to labor scarcity and government surveillance operations have the opposite effect on attack timing. In addition, we investigate the impact of attack timing on battlefield effectiveness and find that it reduces soldier efficiency during missions to ‘find and clear’ roadside bombs and increases bomb-related casualties to government troops.

Keywords: economic shocks, civil war, rebel tactics, counterinsurgency, spy operations

JEL Classification: O1, P48

Suggested Citation

Sonin, Konstantin and Wright, Austin L., Rebel Capacity and Combat Tactics (March 23, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2018-74, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3030736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3030736

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( 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)

London
United Kingdom

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

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