Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Civil" warriors: A study on military intervention and key leader engagement in Iraq
by Hull, Jeanne, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2014, 169; 3615074
Abstract (Summary)

Military intervention forces use a variety of techniques to achieve success in counterinsurgency operations. One technique recently put into more widespread practice by military units in Iraq and Afghanistan is key leader engagement. Key leader engagements are meetings that members of intervention forces conduct with influential people within a host-nation population capable of swaying the support of broader constituencies. The intent of these engagements is to establish functional relationships with powerful local leaders to further mission objectives.

This project is the first attempt to empirically evaluate the impact of key leader engagements as part of counterinsurgency operations. Using data from the Department of Defense's Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE) database during the military "Surge" of forces in Baghdad, Iraq, the author evaluates the impact of key leader engagements on reducing attacks against elements of the coalition military intervention force in the city. While some of the findings support practitioners' assertions about key leader engagements, others go counter to some of the prevailing assessments of key leader engagement effectiveness. First, the author finds that key leader engagements only impact levels of violence when conducted in conjunction with other intervention force operations. Second, the author found that—contrary to some practitioners' assessments that more engagements led to more successful counterinsurgency operations—large numbers key leader engagements were not always associated with a reduction in attacks. It was only those forces that appeared to use key leader engagements discriminately that observed a reduction in attacks. Third, key leader engagements involving promises were associated with an increase in attacks against the intervention force. Finally, contrary to the expectation that more frequent contact with small numbers of key leaders would reduce prejudice and strengthen cooperative relationships, frequent contact with small numbers of key leaders was associated with an increased propensity for attacks.

Based on these findings, the author recommends that the U.S. military continue its efforts to identify "best practices" for key leader engagements, refine the methods of evaluating the effectiveness of these engagements, mandate the integration of lethal and non-lethal targeting boards, and incorporate a greater analytical capability into the evaluation of persuasive operations in war.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Friedberg, Aaron, Lyall, Jason
Commitee: Friedberg, Aaron, Lyall, Jason, Meese, Michael, Wilson III, Isaiah
School: Princeton University
Department: Public and International Affairs
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Political science, Sociology, Public policy
Keywords: Civil war, Engagement, Intervention
Publication Number: 3615074
ISBN: 978-1-303-80857-9
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