Math model shows good intelligence required to contain insurgent groups like Taliban

Posted By: Staff
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Washington, July 19 (ANI): In a new study, a mathematical model has shown that insurgent groups like the Taliban can only be effectively engaged with timely and accurate military intelligence, and even good intelligence may only succeed in containing the insurgency, not defeating it.

The new study, titled "Why Defeating Insurgencies is Hard: The Effect of Intelligence in Counterinsurgency Operations - A Best-Case Scenario", was done by Moshe Kress and Roberto Szechtman of the Naval Postgraduate School.

The study is the first of its kind to combine military intelligence, attrition and civilian population behavior in a unified model of counterinsurgency dynamics.

The authors of the study stress the role of obtaining intelligence about the insurgency.

Absent intelligence, they write, not only can the insurgents escape unharmed and continue their violent attacks; but resultant poor government targeting causes innocent civilian deaths, which increases popular support for the insurgents and thus generates more recruits to the insurgency.

Recent attacks on Taliban strongholds by US drones have shown that deaths among civilians may end up hindering American lead efforts, according to Kress.

Ill-targeted actions taken by Israel and Colombia, for example, also have shown that unintended deaths among civilians have led to increased support for insurgents.

In their study paper, the authors model the dynamic relations among intelligence, collateral casualties in the population, attrition, recruitment to the insurgency, and reinforcement to the government force.

Even under best-case assumptions regarding the government actions, they show that the government cannot totally eradicate an insurgency by force.

The best it can do is containing it at a certain fixed level.

The containment or stalemate points may be either fragile or stable. If the violence level is low, the containment point is fragile, in which case the insurgents can "break away" and eventually win.

If the government commits large forces and applies a heavy hand (for example, the "surge" of United States forces in Iraq) then the stalemate point is stable.

"If a government does keep its intelligence gathering capabilities high," said Szechtman. "It can keep a hold on the insurgency, and after a while, when the insurgents realize they can't win, a political compromise may be reached," he added. (ANI)

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