London, December 17 (ANI): A new mathematical model has suggested that wars are predictable, as insurgencies have a common underlying pattern that may allow the timing of attacks and the number of casualties to be predicted.
According to a report in Nature News, researchers at the University of Miami in Florida developed the model.
"We found that the way in which humans do insurgent wars - that is, the number of casualties and the timing of events - is universal," said team leader Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami in Florida. "This changes the way we think insurgency works," he added.
Johnson and his colleagues argue that the pattern arises because insurgent wars lack a coherent command network and operate more as a "soup of groups", in which cells form and disband when they sense danger, then reform in different sizes and composition.
The timing of attacks is driven by competition between insurgent groups for media attention, according to the researchers.
Johnson, who has presented preliminary versions of the work to the US military, said that the findings allow a glimpse into the heart of insurgency behaviour.
"We can get a sense of what is going on and what might happen if we intervened in certain ways," he said.
For the study, the researchers collected data on the timing of attacks and number of casualties from more than 54,000 events across nine insurgent wars, including those fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 and in Sierra Leone between 1994 and 2003.
By plotting the distribution of the frequency and size of events, the team found that insurgent wars follow an approximate power law, in which the frequency of attacks decreases with increasing attack size to the power of 2.5.
That means that for any insurgent war, an attack with 10 casualties is 316 times more likely to occur than one with 100 casualties.
"This is surprising because these wars are all fought in different terrains and under different circumstances," said Johnson. "It shows that there is something going on in the way these wars are fought that is common to all," he added.
To explain what was driving this common pattern, the researchers created a mathematical model that assumes that insurgent groups form and fragment when they sense danger, and strike in well-timed bursts to maximize their media exposure.
The model gave results that resembled the power-law distribution of actual attacks. (ANI)