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Determinants of Military Strategy, 1903–1994: A Quantitative Empirical Test

Dan Reiter, Curtis Meek
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0020-8833.00124 363-387 First published online: 1 June 1999


Military strategy is centrally important to understanding the causes, conduct, and outcomes of war. Several foreign policy theories make predictions as to what military strategies a state will choose. This article presents the first quantitative, empirical tests of hypotheses of strategy choice. Analysis was conducted on a random sample of country-years taken from the population of all countries from the years 1903 to 1994. Military strategy is classified as being either maneuver, attrition, or punishment. Empirical findings reveal that democracies and industrialized states are more likely to choose maneuver strategies, and that a state's own experiences affect the likelihood of it choosing maneuver. Factors found not to affect strategy choice include terrain, the level of external threat, troop quality, whether a state is democratizing, whether a state is a mixed regime, whether a state is a military regime, and vicarious experiences.

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