Carnegie Mellon University

Christopher Paul, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency

Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 4:30-6:00pm, Steinberg Auditorium, Baker Hall A53

When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? Contemporary discourse on this subject is voluminous and often contentious. Advice for the counterinsurgent is often based on little more than common sense, a general understanding of history, or a handful of detailed examples, instead of a solid, systematically collected body of historical evidence. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from detailed case studies of the 71 insurgencies started and concluded between WWII and 2010, The study informing this presentation evaluated the effectiveness of different counterinsurgency (COIN) concepts, identified important differences when COIN operations are conducted (or supported) by an external actor, and explored the factors that determine the duration of insurgencies. This presentation will share the four historical prerequisites for COIN success, describe the COIN scorecard developed as part of this effort, and report the average time to end of conflict once effective counterinsurgency practices are in place, among other findings.


Christopher Paul is a Senior Social Scientist working out of RAND's Pittsburgh office.  Prior to joining RAND full-time in July of 2002, he worked at RAND as adjunct staff for six years.  Chris received his Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA in 2001; he spent academic year 2001-02 on the UCLA statistics faculty.  Chris has developed methodological competencies in comparative historical and case study approaches, quantitative analysis, and evaluation research.  Current research interests include security cooperation, strategic communication, information operations, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and operations in cyberspace.  Recent relevant RAND publications include RR-291/1-OSD, Paths to Victory: Lessons from Modern Insurgencies, RR-291/2-OSD, Paths to Victory: Detailed Insurgency Case Studies, RR-395-OSD, Counterinsurgency Scorecard: Afghanistan in Early 2013 Relative to Insurgencies Since World War II, and RR-469-OSD, From Stalemate to Settlement: Lessons for Afghanistan from Historical Insurgencies That Have Been Resolved Through Negotiations.

Sponsored by the Center for International Relations and Politics.

Christopher Paul
Christopher Paul