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Why the Weak Win Wars: A Study of the Factors That Drive Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict - Analysis of U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan, Vietnam War

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This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This report 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 n This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This report 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. This project uses a game theoretic model to illustrate how a seemingly non-optimal strategy may be rational for initial phases of the conflict. However, this rationale does not apply beyond initial stages of conflict. To explain non-optimal strategy selection in prolonged conflicts, this project analyzes strategy drivers—factors that influence strategy selection and implementation. Probability of victory is only one of the factors found to influence strategy implementation. Other than probability of victory, this study finds that the institutional predisposition of a military is the most important because it is the most consistent and the most controllable by the military. With this conceptual basis, the project analyzes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan since 2001. It also takes a cursory look at 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 with an excessive disposition towards direct attack. As such, this thesis recommends taking action to provide the U.S. military with a more neutral institutional predisposition. CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION * A. AVOIDANCE IS NOT AN OPTION * B. NEED FOR A THEORY * C. THESIS * CHAPTER II - REVIEW OF WAR OUTCOME EXPLANATIONS * CHAPTER III - A CLOSER LOOK AT ARREGUIN-TOFT * A. STRONG AND WEAK * B. DIRECT ATTACK * C. INDIRECT ATTACK * D. DIRECT DEFENSE * E. INDIRECT DEFENSE * F. SHORTCOMINGS * CHAPTER IV - GAME THEORETIC MODEL * A. ORDINAL VALUES FOR STRONG ACTORS * B. ORDINAL VALUES FOR WEAK ACTORS * C. THE RESULTING GAME * D. PREDICTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS FROM THE GAME * CHAPTER V - STRATEGY DRIVERS * A. DESCRIPTION OF FACTORS THAT DRIVE STRATEGY * B. RELATIVE SIGNIFICANCE OF STRATEGY FACTORS * CHAPTER VI - AFGHANISTAN CASE STUDY * A. STRATEGIC INTERACTION #1 * B. STRATEGIC INTERACTION #2 * C. ATTEMPTED STRATEGIC INTERACTION #3 * CHAPTER VII - OTHER CONFLICTS AT A GLANCE * A. OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM * B. USSR IN AFGHANISTAN * C. U.S. INTERACTIONS IN VIETNAM * D. INSIGHTS FROM CASE STUDIES * CHAPTER VIII - DISCUSSION * CHAPTER IX - RECOMMENDATIONS * CHAPTER X - CONCLUSION


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This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This report 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 n This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This report 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. This project uses a game theoretic model to illustrate how a seemingly non-optimal strategy may be rational for initial phases of the conflict. However, this rationale does not apply beyond initial stages of conflict. To explain non-optimal strategy selection in prolonged conflicts, this project analyzes strategy drivers—factors that influence strategy selection and implementation. Probability of victory is only one of the factors found to influence strategy implementation. Other than probability of victory, this study finds that the institutional predisposition of a military is the most important because it is the most consistent and the most controllable by the military. With this conceptual basis, the project analyzes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan since 2001. It also takes a cursory look at 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 with an excessive disposition towards direct attack. As such, this thesis recommends taking action to provide the U.S. military with a more neutral institutional predisposition. CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION * A. AVOIDANCE IS NOT AN OPTION * B. NEED FOR A THEORY * C. THESIS * CHAPTER II - REVIEW OF WAR OUTCOME EXPLANATIONS * CHAPTER III - A CLOSER LOOK AT ARREGUIN-TOFT * A. STRONG AND WEAK * B. DIRECT ATTACK * C. INDIRECT ATTACK * D. DIRECT DEFENSE * E. INDIRECT DEFENSE * F. SHORTCOMINGS * CHAPTER IV - GAME THEORETIC MODEL * A. ORDINAL VALUES FOR STRONG ACTORS * B. ORDINAL VALUES FOR WEAK ACTORS * C. THE RESULTING GAME * D. PREDICTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS FROM THE GAME * CHAPTER V - STRATEGY DRIVERS * A. DESCRIPTION OF FACTORS THAT DRIVE STRATEGY * B. RELATIVE SIGNIFICANCE OF STRATEGY FACTORS * CHAPTER VI - AFGHANISTAN CASE STUDY * A. STRATEGIC INTERACTION #1 * B. STRATEGIC INTERACTION #2 * C. ATTEMPTED STRATEGIC INTERACTION #3 * CHAPTER VII - OTHER CONFLICTS AT A GLANCE * A. OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM * B. USSR IN AFGHANISTAN * C. U.S. INTERACTIONS IN VIETNAM * D. INSIGHTS FROM CASE STUDIES * CHAPTER VIII - DISCUSSION * CHAPTER IX - RECOMMENDATIONS * CHAPTER X - CONCLUSION

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