Rebel Capacity and Randomized Combat
24 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2017 Last revised: 10 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 1, 2017
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: Suggested Citation