Research / BFI Working PaperApr 02, 2021

Information Operations Increase Civilian Security Cooperation

Information operations are considered a central element of modern warfare and counterinsurgency, yet there remains little systematic evidence of their effectiveness. Using a geographic quasi-experiment conducted during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, we demonstrate that civilians exposed to the government’s information campaign resulted in more civilian security cooperation, which in turn increased bomb neutralizations. These results are robust to a number of alternative model specifications that account for troop presence, patrol-based operations, and local military aid allocation as well as a series of novel placebo tests and latent radio signal propagation approaches. The paper demonstrates that information campaigns can lead to substantive attitudinal and behavioral changes in an adversarial environment and substantially improve battlefield outcomes.

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