Increasing civilian cooperation in security operations: Evidence from Afghanistan


Published 17.11.21
Photo credit:
Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson, U.S. Air Force.

Exposure to radio messages on the dangers of roadside bombs increases locals’ cooperation with military forces to reduce security threats

Read “Information operations increase civilian security operations” by Konstantin Sonin and Austin L. Wright here.

Modern-day military operations frequently implement information operations – a broad range of communications encompassing propaganda, information services, and public addresses – to change civilians’ attitudes and allegiances in war zones. However, little empirical evidence exists on the effectiveness of these operations in supporting military activities or improving local safety and security. In this VoxDevTalk, Austin Wright discusses his recent work with co-author Konstantin Sonin in which they examine the impact of a radio intervention in Afghanistan on US military and security operations. 

The authors assess how radio messaging in local communities around the dangers of roadside bombs affected civilians’ willingness to report security threats to US troops. They find that exposure to radio messaging significantly increased local cooperation with military forces to find and remove roadside bomb threats. Their results show that even in areas of high instability, information operations can shift civilian attitudes and behaviours to diminish threats to local safety and security.