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Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability

PI: Leonardo Arriola, UC Berkeley

Year selected for award: 2016

Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability

Principal Investigator: Leonardo Arriola, University of California, Berkeley

Co-Investigators: Aila Matanock, University of California, Berkeley and Michaela Mattes, University of California, Berkeley

Years of Award: 2017-2020

Managing Service Agency: Army Research Office

Project Description:
Developing countries around the world increasingly face violent irregular threats in the form of insurgency and terrorism. Many developing countries, however, have proven unable to effectively deploy their security institutions, military and civilian, in responding to those threats. The problem for policymakers and military planners is that existing research cannot explain much of the cross-national variation in the performance of security institutions in tackling violent irregular threats.

The Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability seeks to advance our understanding of how the design of security institutions (e.g., military, police, paramilitary, militia) can affect the capacity of countries to combat violent irregular threats. We specifically assess how the institutional features of state security forces, including structure factors (such as inter-service coordination rules) and system factors (such as promotion policies), shape their ability to undertake sustained counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns. We examine how such institutional differences influence whether countries can deter the onset of violent irregular threats, defeat existing violent groups, reduce the number of civilian and combatant deaths, and increase the duration of periods without violent activity.

The Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability pursues its research objectives through a multi-method approach. First, we are assembling and analyzing a cross-national Domestic Security Institutions (DSI) database with systematically coded information on security institutions and their inter-service relationships. Second, we are producing case studies of countries that share a common set of threats, but exhibit considerable variation in their success combating those threats. Third, we will conduct a survey of security personnel in a conflict-affected country to understand how security institutions have been employed in combatting insurgency and terrorism with varying degrees of success.

This study will have direct implications for U.S. defense missions across command regions and across services. By accounting empirically for differences in the performance of critical security institutions, this project will contribute to the development of objective diagnostic metrics for anticipating how partner countries, particularly in fragile and transitional states, might respond to the outbreak of insurgency or the emergence of a terrorist network within its borders. Additionally, the data and analysis generated by this project will enable policymakers and military planners to better target security sector assistance and reform programs to the institutions within partner countries most likely to respond positively.

Select Publications:
Arriola, Leonardo, Aila Matanock, and Michaela Mattes. 2017. "Examining The Institutional And Counterinsurgency Effects Of U.S. Military Aid". Presentation, American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.
Arriola, Leonardo, Aila Matanock, and Michaela Mattes. 2017. "Designing Security Institutions In Developing Countries". Presentation, Peace Science Society Annual Meeting.
Arriola, Leonardo, Aila Matanock, and Michaela Mattes. 2018. "Understanding Domestic Security Institutions Through A Survey Of Defense Attach├ęs". Presentation, American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.