Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Military Studies

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Jerome Sibayan


This paper reports on the utility of drone strikes in the strategic defeat of Al Qaeda. This paper employed a mixed method approach that saw the use of existing published literature in the development of qualitative and quantitative data, as well as the use of quantitative data from databases. This paper also utilized the SWORD model of counterinsurgency in operationalizing data. The research showed that over the last decade, drone strikes became increasingly accurate due to the development of the Reaper drone, and new CIA targeting techniques. Those improvements in accuracy ultimately generated greater tactical losses for Al Qaeda, but those tactical losses did not generate equal strategic losses. Despite tactical losses, Al Qaeda was still capable of conducting v regional and global operations while expanding its sphere of influence throughout the Middle East. The research showed that drone strikes were not achieving the desired strategic effects because they of Al Qaeda’s unique organizational structure, and because they failed to affect Al Qaeda’s centers of gravity.



*Please note that this citation may not be appropriate for your discipline.
To locate the correct citation style for APUS programs and receive citation help, visit