Rebel Threat or Political Connections? The Contextual Logic of Military Home Deployment
Why would governments deploy officers to their home regions? In civil wars military officers are likely to resist repressive orders if they identify with the population that they are supposed to police. Studies suggest that governments can increase compliance by assigning officers to commands far away from their social networks. Nonetheless, governments do frequently deploy officers to their home regions hereby risking disobedience. One reason for home deployment might be the personal favoritism of individual officers. We argue that this logic is only at work in contexts in which governments deem repression less important. During repressive campaigns, however, governments only allow officers to serve in their home regions if there is a high level of rebel activity. Governments use rebel activity to infer the actual threat level leaving deployed officers with little room to shirk repressive orders. We test this argument with a micro-quantitative analysis on home deployments during Argentina's Dirty War (1975-1981). Drawing on rich historical information and original archive-based data on more than 280 officers, our empirical results support the context-based logic of home deployments. During the junta's repressive campaign, rebel activity is strongly correlated with home deployment. Outside the repressive campaign, only political connections appear to increase an officer's chance to serve in his home region. Together the findings offer insights into the organization of state repression and the inner workings of military organizations.