How to Forecast Armies’ Will to Fight

How to Forecast Armies’ Will to Fight
AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File

What motivates the dogs of war?

IN JUNE 2014 around 1,500 partisans of Islamic State (IS) attacked Mosul, a city in northern Iraq. They were outnumbered almost 15 to one by government troops defending the place. The result was a rout. But not in the direction those numbers might have suggested. In the face of the enemy, the government soldiers ran away. Reflecting shortly thereafter on America’s failure to foresee what would happen, James Clapper, then Director of National Intelligence (and thus America’s top spy) described a force’s will to fight, or lack thereof, as an unpredictable “imponderable”.

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