This article examines the coercive and deterrent utility of targeting the leaders of violent, non-state organizations with precision force. Building on the literatures on targeted killings and deterrence theory, this article provides a case study analysis of targeted killings in Afghanistan. Relying on publicly available and semi-private sources, the article presents a comparative analysis of four targeted killings conducted against Taliban leaders. Findings suggest that the eliminations degraded Taliban professionalism, diminished the group's success rates, influenced their selection of targets, and weakened morale. These findings speak to the efficacy of targeted killings in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency and to their value as both counter-capability and counter-motivation operations.

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Journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
Wilner, A. S. (2010). Targeted killings in Afghanistan: Measuring coercion and deterrence in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 33(4), 307–329. doi:10.1080/10576100903582543