Abstract: In military planning, it is important to be able to estimate not only the number of fatalities but how often attacks that result in fatalities will take place. We uncovered a simple dynamical pattern that may be used to estimate the escalation rate and timing of fatal attacks. The time difference between fatal attacks by insurgent groups within individual provinces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and by terrorist groups operating worldwide, gives a potent indicator of the later pace of lethal activity.
Abstract: The Red Queen's notion" It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place" has been applied within evolutionary biology, politics and economics. We find that a generalized version in which an adaptive Red Queen (eg insurgency) sporadically edges ahead of a Blue King (eg military), explains the progress curves for fatal insurgent attacks against the coalition military within individual provinces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Remarkably regular mathematical relations emerge which suggest a prediction formula for the timing of the n'th future fatal day, and provide a common framework for understanding how insurgents fight in different regions. Our findings are consistent with a Darwinian selection hypothesis which favors a weak species which can adapt rapidly, and establish an unexpected conceptual connection to the physics of correlated walks.