Publication:
Why the weak win wars a study of the factors that drive strategy in asymmetric conflict

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Authors
Hartigan, Jake.
Subjects
Advisors
Rothstein, Hy
Date of Issue
2009-12
Date
Publisher
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
This thesis builds on the research and ideas of the school of thought that believes strategy is the most important factor in predicting war outcomes. One shortcoming of that school is the inability to explain why strong actors would implement a strategy that does not provide the highest probability of victory. This project uses a game theoretic model to illustrate how a seemingly non-optimal strategy may be rational for initial phases of the conflict. However, this rationale does not apply beyond initial stages of conflict. To explain non-optimal strategy selection in prolonged conflicts, this project analyzes strategy drivers-factors that influence strategy selection and implementation. Probability of victory is only one of the factors found to influence strategy implementation. Other than probability of victory, this study finds that the institutional predisposition of a military is the most important because it is the most consistent and the most controllable by the military. With this conceptual basis, the project analyzes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan since 2001. It also takes a cursory look at U.S. operations in Iraq since 2003, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The model and case studies illustrate a U.S. military institutional predisposition with an excessive disposition towards direct attack. As such, this thesis recommends taking action to provide the U.S. military with a more neutral institutional predisposition.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
Defense Analysis (DA)
Organization
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Funder
Format
xii, 83 p. ;
Citation
Distribution Statement
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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