by Anthony Vinci
This article makes the case that knowing how insurgencies last so long can help to understand why they last so long. Moreover, it argues that only by answering the ‘how’ question that we can develop better means of defeating the insurgent temporal attrition strategy. Insurgencies can seem immortal because they develop adaptive, self-perpetuating solutions to the ‘problems of mobilization’, which are a set of actions that every armed group must be able to perform in order to mobilize for war. When insurgencies have developed such adaptive solutions they can be very difficult to defeat because the group may adapt to any immediate destruction of one of its functions. The means to defeat insurgencies lies in considering the second order consequences of how one action may lead the group to adapt. Then the strategy demands choosing those actions that will leave the group weaker in the long run.