Institutional challenges to developing metrics of success in irregular warfare
Bleigh, John T.
Snider, Curt M.
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In irregular warfare (IW) conflicts, where winning the support of the population is often key, the United States military historically has demonstrated consistent difficulty in developing metrics that describe the effectiveness of its operations. We identify previously neglected aspects of the problem. More specifically, we argue that the institutional pressures generated by a conflict's national imperative, when combined with the military's own bureaucratic characteristics, cause the military organization to focus on inappropriate measurements. This causes it to misinterpret the IW environment and therefore misjudge its operational effectiveness. Thus, the search for useful metrics of success in IW must seek to overcome not only the difficulties inherent to measuring IW, but endemic organizational characteristics of the U.S. military; understanding this heretofore neglected interactive effect is crucial to understanding the nature of the metrics problem in irregular warfare campaigns. We develop our argument and illustrate it using historical cases of U.S. IW campaigns.
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