Abstract for: The Role of Influence Operations in a Counterinsurgency Battle

The aim of this paper is to extend a recent "war of attrition" model for counterinsurgency (Kress & Szechtman, 2008) to include the impact on war of the use of influence operations for popular support and defections from the insurgency. The model has the following five sectors: (1) Competitive Contagion for Popular Support; (2) Recruitment and Defections; (3) Quality of Intelligence; (4) War of Attrition; and (5) Collateral Damage. Two messaging policies were compared, but the results of such comparisons will depend heavily on model parameterization and the formulation of effect functions. Still, a model such as this one can be used in principle to inform policy development by making assumptions transparent and by clarifying causal links. For instance, popular support messaging can reduce the effectiveness of insurgent fighters and their ability to recruit. Alternatively, defection messaging can help to recruit defectors and glean intelligence for targeting that could limit civilian casualties and reduce insurgent recruitment, thus bringing the war to an earlier close. This effort was completed, in part, for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Contract No. FA8650-04-D-6405 TO 25 and TO 33).