Kill Analytics

I rarely write on Politics- rather I mostly present statistics on poverty, third world, offshoring etc and would rather invite people to draw their own conclusions. But something I read in the New York Times, yes , THAT liberal and well written newspaper causes me to remember a rather obscure branch of analytics- related to defence personnel operations. It’s kill ratios- or the ratio of  number of casualties on each side in a war.

While it is easier to estimate, define and measure kill ratios in conventional warfare, kill ratios can be sometimes misleading as predictors of victory (i.e Tet Offensive was a massive victory for the United States in terms of kill ratios, but the number of US casualties hastened the decision to end that war).

When it comes to Terrorism, kill ratios are even more skewed. 19 Terrorists caused September 11 that killed 3000 people, nearly all civilians. An unmanned drone attack kills 20 people in Pakistan, but causes some people to become car bomb terrorists,thus creating some terrorists and killing some.

An excerpt from the book, ” The Age of the Unthinkable” comes to mind in which the Israeli defence statisticians even came up with a precise number for ratio of innocents killed to terrorists killed, which is acceptable for a military solution. That along with some network analysis in Terror organizations, in which nodes to kill or disrupt for maximum ratio of benefit/cost is a very lucrative and secretive branch , called Security Analysis or what I term as kill analytics. Some of those hitherto secret kill algorithms would be better used in product marketing- however I wish the opposite was true (selling terrorists shampoo and get them hooked on Facebook rather than go with the flow). But thats an ideal world !

Author: Ajay Ohri

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