Thinking Red : The Mathematics of War


SOF Support
Dec 26, 2007

Interesting findings in the data, but time has answered his question at the end. The insurgent groups are fragmented to the point that we can move out.

For Tracking "alpha" to be an effective strategic decision making tool, it'll have to be contextualized by poly/intel people. But I do like implications. Anything that takes the guess work out of war saves American lives...

Thoughts? Any other extrapolations from the data that you can see?
Swill, man, thanks for posting that clip from TED.

I have doubts about the practical validity of Gourley's findings. His "negative alpha" may only be useful as a rearward looking metric.

Negative alpha rose toward 3 after the Samarra bombing in '06 and again after the Surge. But two very different actual responses seem correlated to that rise in negative alpha. In '06 it was the mobilization of Shia into militias. With the Surge, Sunnis formed CLCs and Sadr ordered a cease-fire. The physicist's model ignores the changing political environment.

Others will have to speak up regarding any forward-looking value his research offers in regards to other "small wars".

If you're looking for a economic model for insurgent conflict, check out this paper on Small Wars Journal

It isn't as simple or surprising as the physicist's approach, but it is worth a read.