Accuracy vs effectiveness in counter-insurgency

Just come across an article in JASSS, based on a simple model of how governments might respond to insurgency.

The articel is by D Scott Bennett.

The basic modelhas only three actors and dimensions: soliders respond to attacks by insurgents with high or low effectivenss (ie they kill them) and high or low accuracy (ie they may also kill innocent civilians). Civilans can be made angry and/or fearful by this; if angry enough, they too become insurgents.

OK, its very simplified, but “The simulations suggest that in the long-run, the benefit of keeping the number of new insurgents down by maintaining or increasing accuracy outweighs the short-term cost of missing the capture of some insurgents. When action against insurgents results in many injuries and an increase in population anger, governments do the work of insurgents for them, and make successful prosecution of a counterinsurgency campaign more difficult. ”

Hes also got a work in progress paper on his website, which argues, from a similar simulation, that : “… there is a range of circumstances under which learning to be more accurate and effective can help governments to defeat insurgencies. However, the lengths of insurgencies where governments “start dumb” but then learn are dramatically longer than situations where governments are “smart” in the first place. That is, learning is no substitute for appropriate initial activity. In addition, there is a range of conditions (starting conditions for government accuracy and effectiveness, and magnitude of learning) where learning may not be enough. Even if the final learned strategy would have been enough to defeat a nascent insurgency, if an insurgency has become well established under an inferior strategy, the strategy may not be enough.”

He is thinking of US actions in Iraq, but I wonder if these are lessons the (London) Metropolitan Police could learn as well?

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