3 Items

Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of the Shining Path guerrilla movement, in prison after being captured in Lima, Peru, in a Sep. 1992 file photo. Guzman's messianic communist vision inspired a 12-year rebellion in which nearly 70,000 people died.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Quarterly Journal: International Security

The Effectiveness of Leadership Decapitation in Combating Insurgencies

| June 2012

"The findings indicate that militant leaders do matter and that removing them enhances the effectiveness of counterinsurgency strategies. In brief, decapitations were associated with curtailed insurgent activity, decreased insurgent violence, and an increased likelihood of government victory. These patterns were not limited to certain types of groups; there was no statistical evidence that the impact of decapitation differed across groups with different aims and ideologies."

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns

| Spring 2012

A recent, data-driven study suggests that leadership targeting in counterinsurgency campaigns is a surprisingly effective tactic. Successful leadership decapitation can decrease campaign length, improve campaign success rate, and lessen the intensity of conflict and the number of terrorist attacks. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that possible negative effects, such as the "martyrdom effect" and decentralization, outweigh the benefits of successful decapitation. Although leadership decapitation is not a silver bullet, it is an effective technique that should be considered carefully in counterinsurgency strategy.

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict

| November 2010

An increasing amount of development aid is targeted to areas affected by civil conflict; some of it in the hope that aid will reduce conflict by weakening popular support for insurgent movements. But if insurgents know that development projects will weaken their position, they have an incentive to derail them, which may exacerbate conflict.