Effective client management: maximizing the influence of external sponsors over affiliated armed groups
Hamlin, Anders C.
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Special warfare operations often require cooperation and partnership with different types of indigenous affiliated armed groups. These groups may be rebels fighting against a government or militias collaborating with a government. In many cases, the armed groups will go on to form the nucleus of a new regime. As sponsor-affiliate relationships progress over time, objectives and ideology can diverge, leading to problems with, or even termination of, the relationship. This study examines the sponsor-affiliate relationship from the sponsor's perspective, focusing on how successful external sponsors use effective client management to build and maintain influence over extended periods of time. To identify the critical factors of effective client management--those that enable durable, long-running relationships with high degrees of compatibility--this thesis uses quantitative analysis of the Sponsorship of Rebels (SOR), and other data sets, as well as qualitative analysis of Iran's sponsorship of the Iraqi Badr Organization and its offshoots, and of Cuba's sponsorship of the MPLA in Angola. The research supports the delineation of five critical factors of effective client management: sponsor competition, client competition, sponsor oversight, client organizational enforcement, and client dependence. Additionally, the case studies provide historical examples of successful effective client management.
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