Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 30 Insurgencies, 1978–2008

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Abstract:

We use Charles Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to quantitatively test the performance of 20 distinct counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches against the historical record. This method allowed us to apply mathematical principles to fundamentally qualitative data without compromising the qualitative nuance necessary to identify and resolve exceptions. The five main takeaways from the research were: (1) effective COIN practices tend to run in packs; (2) the balance of effective versus detrimental COIN practices discriminates all 30 cases into wins or losses without recourse to narratives of exceptionality; (3) poor beginnings don't necessarily lead to poor endings; (4) repression wins phases, but usually not cases; (5) insurgent tangible support appears to be a critical center of gravity. Our results provide useful recommendations for US engagement in and support for COIN operations.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5711/1082598317219

Publication date: August 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Military Operations Research is the leading peer-reviewed journal publishing articles in the fields that describe operations research (OR) methodologies and theories used in key military applications.

    MOR specifically invites papers that are significant military OR applications. Of particular interest are papers that present case studies showing innovative OR applications, apply OR to major policy issues, introduce interesting new problem areas, highlight educational issues, and document the history of military OR.
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