If At First You Don't Succeed: Explaining the Puzzle of Unchanging Russian Counterinsurgency Doctrine
48 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 27, 2019
What explains the persistence of Russia’s counterinsurgency doctrine of indiscriminate violence and collective punishment over time? Perhaps more interestingly, why has Russia not changed its counterinsurgency doctrine in the face of multiple failures, especially after its failures in Afghanistan and the first Chechen war? Few scholars have taken on the persistence of Russian civilian victimization over time and despite failures as a dependent variable. This paper distills and tests hypotheses from the literature on military organizational learning to understand Russia's unchanging brute-force counterinsurgency strategy. It finds that the Russian military’s continued use of harsh tactics against the population during its counterinsurgency campaigns is not explained by theories that emphasize military organizational bias, but rather better explained by civilian leaders’ failure to pressure the military to change its strategy—although why the civilian leaders did so remains an avenue for future study.
Keywords: counterinsurgency, strategy, doctrine, innovation, military, insurgency, collateral damage, violence, military learning
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