Speaker: Evan Perkoski, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program

Why do insurgents recruit experienced fighters at some times and untrained novices at others? Research suggests that insurgent organizations place a premium on committed members who demonstrate political devotion. But research also suggests that groups are willing to compromise on commitment when compelled by other priorities. The speaker will argue this extends to recruitment of experienced fighters who are capable and knowledgeable, but also less committed and generally riskier. Specifically, he expects groups will accept these risks and recruit veteran fighters when initially building their organization, when transitioning to new modes of warfare, and when competing with peer organizations for dominance.

At other times, groups should more readily focus their efforts on novices who can be molded to fit their less urgent operational needs. The speaker will evaluate this theory with a case study of Al Qaeda in Iraq and its successor, the Islamic State. This research sheds light on an understudied component of insurgent recruitment that has implications for organizational behavior, counterinsurgency, intergroup conflict, and civilian victimization

Everyone is welcome to join us via Zoom! Register before the seminar here: 

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.