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p. 816. Decapitation and targeted killinglocked

  • Antulio J. Echevarria II


The military strategies of decapitation and targeted killing derive from dislocation and attrition, respectively. Decapitation is the attempt to paralyze or destroy a group by removing its leadership, and targeted killing is the systematic elimination of an organization’s members, whether these individuals are in key positions of leadership or in the rank and file. Both strategies have been widely used to combat terrorists and insurgents. ‘Decapitation and targeted killing’ shows that the use of these strategies has increased markedly since the twenty-first century began, particularly with the widespread production of remotely piloted vehicles, but they remain highly controversial as strategic techniques. They may not destroy an organization permanently, but they can temporarily degrade its effectiveness.

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