Organization and Recruitment in Rebel Groups

Led by Scott Gates

Dec 2005 – Jun 2007

Scott Gates, Director, CSCW and Nihar Nayak, IDSA
Project period: December 2005 – June 2007

Civil wars are fought between two political organizations, a government and a rebel group. While myriad theories of civil war have featured aspects of the state or government, little work has focused on theorizing about the rebel organizations themselves. This project focuses on the organizational structure of rebel groups to understand patterns of group formation, recruitment, desertion and defection, strategies and tactics. Indeed, the organization of a rebel group critically affects the prospects for military and political success. Working in conjunction with case studies of different rebel groups operating in South Asia, a theory of rebel organization will be developed.

The project will focus primarily on three organizational features of a rebel group, incentives, enforcement mechanisms (punishment schemes), and finance. By examining the incentive systems used by different armed rebellion groups, we can account for ideological, nationalistic or ethnic, religious, as well pecuniary motivations. Such motivations directly relate to the strategic goals of rebel groups.

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