Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency

Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency


Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Insurgency has been the most prevalent form of armed conflict since at least 1949, as well as the subject of countless historical and contemporary studies. Contemporary discourse on the subject is voluminous and often contentious, but to date there has been a dearth of systematic evidence supporting the counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches, practices, and tenets that make for successful operations. Relying on a collection of the 30 most recent resolved insurgencies, along with a bank of factors that helped or hindered the COIN force in each case and in each phase of each case, several commonalities emerge. For instance, the data show that good COIN practices tend to "run in packs" and that the balance of selected good and bad practices perfectly predicts the outcome of a conflict. The importance of popular support is confirmed, but the ability to interdict tangible support (such as new personnel, materiel, and financing) is the single best predictor of COIN force success. Twenty distinct approaches to COIN are rigorously tested against the historical record, providing valuable lessons for U.S. engagement in and support for COIN operations. A companion volume, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Detailed Counterinsurgency Case Studies, presents in-depth profiles of each of the insurgencies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780833049612
Publisher: RAND Corporation
Publication date: 09/16/2010
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

Preface iii

Figures ix

Tables xi

Summary xiii

Acknowledgments xxvii

Abbreviations xxix

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Purpose of This Study 1

Data and Analyses 3

About This Monograph and the Accompanying Case Studies 3

Chapter 2 The Cases 5

Case Selection and Data Collection 5

Phased Data 7

Assessing Case Outcomes 8

Nicaragua (Somoza), 1978-1979 10

Afghanistan (Anti-Soviet), 1978-1992 11

Kampuchea, 1978-1992 12

El Salvador, 1979-1992 13

Somalia, 1980-1991 13

Peru, 1980-1992 14

Nicaragua (Contras), 1981-1990 15

Senegal, 1982-2002 15

Turkey (PKK), 1984-1999 16

Sudan (SPLA), 1984-2004 17

Uganda (ADF), 1986-2000 17

Papua New Guinea, 1988-1998 17

Liberia, 1989-1997 18

Rwanda, 1990-1994 19

Moldova, 1990-1992 19

Sierra Leone, 1991-2002 20

Algeria (GIA), 1992-2004 21

Croatia, 1992-1995 22

Afghanistan (Post-Soviet), 1992-1996 23

Tajikistan, 1992-1997 23

Georgia/Abkhazia, 1992-1994 24

Nagorno-Karabakh, 1992-1994 24

Bosnia, 1992-1995 25

Burundi, 1993-2003 26

Chechnya I, 1994-1996 26

Afghanistan (Taliban), 1996-2001 27

Zaire (Anti-Mobutu), 1996-1997 27

Kosovo, 1996-1999 28

Nepal, 1997-2006 28

Democratic Republic of the Congo (Anti-Kabila), 1998-2003 29

Case Narrative Results 29

Chapter 3 Testing the Approaches to Counterinsurgency 31

Representing the Approaches in the Data 33

Analysis of the Relationships Between Case Factors and Case Outcomes 33

Factor Stacks 34

Tests of Each Approach 35

Classic COIN Approaches 36

Contemporary Approaches to COIN 55

Insurgent Approaches 75

Summary of the Tests of the Approaches 79

Chapter 4 Broader Findings 83

Scorecard: Balance of Good Versus Bad Practices 84

Every Insurgency May Be Unique, but Not at This Level of Analysis 88

Which Successful Approach Is Most Essential" Qualitative Comparative Analysis 89

Phase Outcomes 91

Chapter 5 Conclusions and Recommendations 93

Key Findings 93

Effective COIN Practices Tend to Run in Packs 94

The Balance of Good Versus Bad Practices Perfectly Predicts Outcomes 94

Poor Beginnings Do Not Necessarily Lead to Poor Ends 96

Repression Wins Phases, but Usually Not Cases 97

Tangible Support Trumps Popular Support 98


A Methods and Data 101

B Details of Qualitative Comparative Analysis 123

C Possible Criticisms of the Analyses and Response Commentary 133

References 147

Supplemental Material: Matrix of Factors Representing 20 Approaches to COIN and Scorecard of Good Versus Bad COIN Practices and Factors 153

Customer Reviews