Tactical Economics” Help the U.S. Army “Win in a Complex World?” Addressing Army Warfighting Challenges with an Evidence-Based Approach
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
As the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review highlights, the U.S. military faces a world that is more volatile and complex than ever before. The Department of Defense’s primary ground force, the U.S. Army, bears primary responsibility for leading population-centric stability operations, which involve establishing security, providing humanitarian relief, restoring essential services, and rebuilding critical infrastructure. This paper examines the Army’s recent experiences with stability operations and considers whether economic programs at the “micro” level can provide an important capability to tactical units--“tactical economics.” Employing economic interventions effectively is extremely difficult, as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated. To prepare for future stability operations, the U.S. Army can benefit from an assessment of its current capabilities. Analysis indicates that adoption of an “evidence-based” approach to tactical economics, guided by insights provided by empirical social science, can provide a powerful nonlethal option by which tactical commanders can shape the security environment.
Bate, Jonathan, "Can “Tactical Economics” Help the U.S. Army “Win in a Complex World?” Addressing Army Warfighting Challenges with an Evidence-Based Approach" (2016).