When do Armed Revolts Succeed: Lessons from Lanchester Theory
Atkinson, Michael P.
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Major revolts have recently erupted in parts of the Middle East with substantial international reprecussions. Predicting, copiing with and winning these revolts have become a grave problem for many regimes and for world powers. We propose a new model of such revolts that describes their evolution by building on the classic Lanchester theory of combat. The models accounts for the split in the population between those loyal to the regime and those favoring the rebels. We show that, contrary to classical Lanchestrian insights regarding tradition force-on-force engagement, the ooutcome of a revolt is independent of the initial force sizes; it only depends on the fraction of the population supporting each side and their combat effectiveness. The model's predictions are consistent with the situations currently observed in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria (September 2011) and it points to how those situations might evolve.
Journal of the Operational Research Society, V. 63, pp 1363-1373.