Insurgency Decision-making under Conditions of Risk

  •  Albert Harris    


Utilizing prospect theory, the paper contends that two insurgencies, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Chechen resistance, decided to mount a stand at Kilinochchi in Sri Lanka, and Grozny in Chechnya, because they preferred to accept the risk of losing the battles, incurring greater casualties (rather than choosing to abandon the two sites respectively) and potentially losing the war, on the chance they could win the respective battles and turn the tide of the civil war generally. In terms of prospect theory, the two insurgencies underweighted the high probability of losing the respective battles, and demonstrated the prevalence of risk aversion in choices between probable gains and sure things, and the prevalence of risk seeking in choices between probable and sure losses.

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