Accession Number:

ADA514160

Title:

Why the Weak Win Wars: A Study of the Factors That Drive Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-12-01

Pagination or Media Count:

96.0

Abstract:

This thesis builds on the research and ideas of the school of thought that believes strategy is the most important factor in predicting war outcomes. One shortcoming of that school is the inability to explain why strong actors would implement a strategy that does not provide the highest probability of victory. The thesis uses game theory to illustrate how a seemingly nonoptimal strategy may be rational for the initial phases of a conflict this rationale would not apply beyond the initial stages of the conflict. To explain nonoptimal strategy selection in prolonged conflicts, the author analyzes strategy drivers -- factors that influence strategy selection and implementation. Probability of victory is only one of the factors that has been found to influence strategy implementation. The author finds that the institutional predisposition of a military is the most important factor because it is the most consistent and the most controllable by the military. Using this conceptual basis, the author analyzes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan since 2001, U.S. operations in Iraq since 2003, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The model and case studies illustrate a U.S. military institutional predisposition towards direct attack. As such, the thesis recommends that the U.S. military take action to adopt a more neutral institutional predisposition.

Subject Categories:

  • Operations Research
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE