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Battling the beast: models of insurgency in Afghanistan

 

An Anti-Taliban Forces (ATF) fighter wraps a bandolier of ammunition for his 7.62mm PK Kalashnikov machine gun around his body as ATF personnel help secure a compound in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

The insurgency in Afghanistan has defied the United States and ISAF’s attempts to quell it for almost a decade, and to some extent has even defied attempts to understand it. The academic literature about insurgency in Afghanistan teems with theories for its development and sustenance, but another way to examine the complex phenomenon is through models. Models attempt to distill the essential elements of a subject and define their relationships within a system, a process that can greatly aid in understanding and discussing an insurgency. Furthermore, a model’s users can view the insurgency and debate ideas on a common platform, avoiding some of the inherent ambiguity of language with the precision of a model’s terms and definitions.

While models can potentially be powerful analytic tools in studying insurgency, existing models of insurgency in Afghanistan or insurgency in general focus too narrowly on specific aspects of insurgency without integrating them into a wider context. Insurgency is obviously a complex phenomenon, but a model does not necessarily have to be bloated and complicated to accurately reflect its processes as a whole. Before such a model can be developed, a careful look at existing models is necessary.

Existing models of insurgency

This list is not comprehensive, but instead a selection of useful models that can inform the development of a generalized model of insurgency.

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4 Comments

  1. All of the links to these models are behind pay walls.
    Do you have any comments on your experience with them, or thoughts on their validity?

    • D’oh! I completely forgot about the paywalls because of my temporary journal access through school. I do have some commentary on these models, as I examined most of them in my dissertation on the topic of modeling insurgency in Afghanistan. I intend to do a series of posts on this topic. Other obligations have impeded my progress, but they are forthcoming.

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