ABSTRACT: International relations scholarship investigating military capabilities has traditionally focused on responses to foreign threats. I move beyond this approach by considering the consequences of leader responses to a specific domestic threat: the military coup. Though far outnumbering all other forms of non-electoral power transitions, the coup has remained far less studied than other forms of anti-regime activity. Even more understudied are empirical assessments of the mechanisms that leaders employ when attempting to maintain power: coup-proofing. I show that coup-fearing leaders willingly sacrifice the fighting capacity of the state in order to reduce the likelihood of a coup, even negating the ability of their armed forces to function in combat. Analyses demonstrate that leaders successfully reduce the likelihood of a coup but are ultimately more vulnerable to insurgency.