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Research Report

CULTURAL CHALLENGES IN MILITARY OPERATIONS

Cees M. Coops
Tibor Szvircsev Tresch
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2007
Published by: NATO Defense College
Pages: 279
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep10333

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
    Cees M. Coops and Tibor Szvircsev Tresch
  4. (pp. 9-10)
    Tibor SZVIRCSEV TRESCH

    On 15 and 16 March 2007 a conference was held at the NATO Defense College on the topic of “Cultural Challenges in Military Operations”. It offered a preliminary overview of the operational and multicultural challenges of cooperation among different forces with NGOs, IOs and the local population in theatres.

    The conference was the follow-up to a preliminary meeting held at the NDC on 27 November 2006. Its specific objectives were to advance understanding in multinational forces during operations, to discuss different military cultures and forms of cooperation, and to address the issue of cultural interoperability and mission effectiveness in multinational...

  5. (pp. 11-24)
    Tibor SZVIRCSEV TRESCH and Nicasia PICCIANO

    Effectiveness is crucial for a military mission based on multiculturality – in other words a force consisting of different national contingents. Effectiveness is a broad term that comprises several aspects to be considered, when applied to NATO’s military operations. One is the distinction between past and present military missions. While Cold War operations⁷ mostly involved border monitoring and force separation tasks, the tasks assigned to post-Cold War operations deal with more complex issues. Most are internal rather than interstate conflicts. As far as NATO⁸ is concerned, since the fall of the Berlin Wall the Alliance has undergone profound transformation and,...

  6. PART 1: COOPERATION IN MULTINATIONAL FORCES:: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE AND NATIONAL CASE STUDIES

    • (pp. 27-35)
      Michael E. FIRLIE

      The challenges of multicultural military operations are nothing new, although many people think that multicultural military operations are something that only started to take place after World War II and after the so-called “globalization” of our society. Today, we tend to think of NATO and the UN as the premier organizations who were the first to take on these complex missions. However, these types of military operations have been going on from Alexander the Great to Frederick the Great. One such operation, or, better said, “campaign” which illustrates the difficult challenges of such an operation and the dramatic outcomes that...

    • (pp. 36-49)
      Ljubica JELUŠIĆ

      In-depth analysis of internationally agreed peace operations and mandated military operations has established numerous historical, organizational, institutional and systemic characteristics of both types of operation. It has laid the foundations of what is now referred to as peace operations. The studies of peace operations include the analysis of the use of force (Berdal, 2001), organizational dilemmas in military and police peacekeeping (Haltiner, 2000), the multinational character of peace operations (Latawski, 2001), strategic peacekeeping operations (Gow, Dandeker, 2001), the civilian police as a new actor in peacekeeping operations (Hansen, 2002; Broer, Emery, 1998), and many other challenges encountered during peace-keeping missions....

    • (pp. 50-64)
      Claude WEBER and Saïd HADDAD

      In peacetime or in operations, the French Armed Forces (the Army in particular) experience diversity on a daily basis. Diversity occurs within the Army, in relations between civilian and military personnel or with new recruits, and within the combined-arms or the joint processes. Overseas diversity is experienced within the multinational context in peacetime in some units, with international staff assignments, and especially during operations within multinational coalitions under a UN, NATO or European Union mandate. We are particularly interested in this last scenario, because it allows us to examine both internal and external diversity.

      The new international configuration is characterized...

    • (pp. 65-74)
      Ferenc MOLNÁR

      Cultural challenges to international military operations can be understood at different levels and in different dimensions/contexts. These are the macro (strategic), the mezzo (organizational), and the individual/interpersonal level, which can be assessed in diverse contexts, such as the type of military mission (peacekeeping, peace enforcement, etc.), the interaction between cooperating organizations (Armed Forces, International Organizations, Nongovernmental Organizations), or between the forces and the local population.

      Challenges can be approached on the strategic level, defined primarily by the history of participating countries, overall threat and risk assessment, foreign political aims, and domestic political dynamics. Cultural context is also of significance since...

  7. PART 2: PEACEKEEPING EXPERIENCE FROM MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES AND THE MIDDLE EAST

    • (pp. 77-89)
      Faysal O. AL-RFOUH

      The notion of world peace is a relatively recent concept. Not so long ago, every generation worldwide, and Europe in particular, had experienced ‘its’ war. A certain fatalism with regard to war was ingrained in the human mindset and war was perceived as a virtual inevitability, whilst peace was seen only as a vague utopian dream. The first peace movements of the 20th century were born between the two wars, in the 1920s and 1930s, perhaps culminating in the advent of the League of Nations. Unfortunately, however, the League failed in its quest as the member states did not endow...

    • (pp. 90-108)
      Efrat ELRON

      As a result of the Lebanon War and in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 11, 2006, UNIFIL’s (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) mandate was extended and enhanced, and troop strength significantly enlarged. An important number of major European countries and several Asian, African, and Moslem countries have responded to the UN’s call, sending troops to Lebanon and contributing to the creation of an upgraded multinational force that is currently deployed on land and at sea.

      Peace operations are used in the region in abundance, mostly deployed at the borders between Israel and the neighboring...

    • (pp. 109-122)
      Saleh AL-ZU’BI

      Since its creation in 1945, the main objective of the United Nations, as embodied in its Charter, was “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which brought sorrow to mankind”. The Charter also asserted that the “peoples of the United Nations determination to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small”.

      Article 1 stipulates that the purposes of the United Nations are: to maintain international peace and security by taking effective collective measures in order to prevent...

    • (pp. 123-129)
      Rachid EL HOUDAIGUI

      Mohammed Benaïssa, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, has consistently promoted Morocco’s active support of the UN objective to consolidate peace and security and to enhance international relations. He also underlines that Morocco is currently contributing to five peacekeeping operations in Africa, America and Europe, which makes of it the thirteenth largest international contributor, the second largest in the Arab world and the sixth largest in Africa.139

      This article intends to raise the inherent problems of working in an intercultural environment: When Moroccan military personnel participate in peacekeeping operations as Moroccan nationals with international experience, how do they behave?...

    • (pp. 130-140)
      Orit SHALEV

      Not all armed forces are organized in the same way, even though we consider them as parallel organizations. They are similar to each other in that they carry an equivalent mission and function similarly in each society. Nevertheless, every army is structured differently and operates in variety of different ways. Scholars attribute this variety to the cultural background of the people in the armed forces and to the environments in which those organizations developed.

      When I think of multiculturalism with regard to the Israel Defense Force (IDF), three perspectives come to mind:

      1. Israel, or the IDF, as a “Third Party”...

  8. PART 3: KOSOVO, AFGHANISTAN AND LEBANON, CASE STUDIES FROM MILITARY MISSIONS

    • (pp. 143-154)
      Jörg KELLER and Maren TOMFORDE

      In 2005, the Bundeswehr Institute of Social Sciences conducted a study of the 11th Operational KFOR Contingent at Prizren, in collaboration with the Political Science Faculty of University III in Rome. The focal point of the study was Multinational Brigade Southwest (MNB SW), for which Italy and Germany provided the majority of forces, whilst exercising command and control of the brigade on a rotational basis. The study worked on the assumption that military culture is a specific form of organizational and national culture. There is no single military culture across the armed forces, and in multinational operations differences between the...

    • (pp. 155-168)
      Maren TOMFORDE

      Peacekeeping rather than “traditional” military operations form the mainstream of current military operations (Williams 2000: 266). In these operations, national militaries interact and co-operate increasingly with other forces, in most cases unified under an integrated command structure. In the light of co-operative military units and action, the character of armed forces - not only from Europe - becomes more and more multinational. When deployed abroad, troops interact with up to 40 other partners from all over the world. Camp Warehouse in Kabul (Afghanistan), which hosts more than 30 nations, is a good example for a truly multinational military setting. These...

    • (pp. 169-183)
      René MOELKER and Schelte VAN RUITEN

      The Dutch are often portrayed as tolerant, progressive and liberal, or better still, they like to sell themselves as such to the world. However, reality unfortunately suggests otherwise. The research team that investigated German-Dutch cooperation over a period of 10 years was stunned to repeatedly discover a very judgmental and negative attitude of young, lower ranking Dutch soldiers towards their German colleagues. The researchers often wondered how German-Dutch cooperation could be improved, and consistently established that lower ranking, young Dutch soldiers proved particularly resistant to a change of attitude.

      ‘True Love’, the title of the 2003 study, is illustrative of...

    • (pp. 184-200)
      Delphine RESTEIGNE and Joseph SOETERS

      The participation of Belgian troops in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was the first time that Belgian soldiers had contributed to a UN operation since the death of ten Belgian Para’s in Kigali in 1994 (during the MINUAR operation). For this reason and in accordance with recommendations made by the “Rwanda Commission”163, Belgium decided not only to send troops to carry out demining, reconstruction and medical tasks, but also to ensure the security of its own contingent. This mission, entitled “BELUFIL”, began in October 2006 and was originally expected to last 6 months. In January it was extended...

  9. PART 4: EDUCATIONAL AND LEADERSHIP ASPECTS

    • (pp. 203-216)
      Yantsislav YANAKIEV

      During the post-Cold War era there has been a significant increase in the number of military operations that have required NATO nations and partners to contribute forces as part of multinational coalitions. The forces implement a variety of missions such as peacekeeping, peace enforcement, anti-terrorist, stability and support, search and rescue, and humanitarian aid. Under these circumstances, a gradual change in the fundamental nature of the military profession and the traditional military culture has taken place. Military sociologists have defined the period as “post-modern” and described the “change in military purpose from fighting wars to conducting missions not traditionally considered...

    • (pp. 217-232)
      Stefan SEILER

      The main task of a UN peace enforcement or peacekeeping operation is to fulfill the objectives set by the respective UN resolution. Operations take place in a chaotic, complex and unpredictable environment. The local intervention zone is often still in or just out of a state of war or turmoil. This unstructured operational area generates extremely demanding leadership situations at all levels.

      In addition to the complexity of traditional military interventions, UN interventions are most often operated in multinational units. Military personnel often are confronted with major cultural differences not only between the “home culture” and the “host culture” but...

  10. PART 5: EFFECTIVENESS OF MISSIONS

    • (pp. 235-253)
      Anthony KING

      On 22 April 1951, the Chinese Communist Army launched their fifth offensive against United Nations forces in Korea (Appleman 1989: 7; Blair 1987: 823). Britain’s 29 Independent Brigade were positioned along the Imjin River north of Seoul. The 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, held a position overlooking the shallow Imjin, the Northumberland Fusiliers were positioned to their right at the Brigade’s centre while, on the north side of the river, an attached Belgian battalion defended an obvious feature on the right flank. The Royal Ulster Rifles were held in reserve by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Brodie. Over the next three...

    • (pp. 254-263)
      Kobi MICHAEL

      “Peace Support Operation” (PSO) is the generic term for the new generation of complicated peacekeeping operations with major state-building components.209 These kinds of operations demand broad and coherent cooperation between military forces and non-military organizations (different kinds of NGOs and international organizations). Such cooperation must rely on a deep understanding of the local population and its culture, as well as the required mechanisms and principles for “gaining their hearts and minds.”210

      PSOs usually take place in post-conflict theatres, but international experience shows, at least during the last decade, that such operations were, and still are, conducted in live conflict theatre...

  11. CONCLUSIONS

    • (pp. 264-277)
      Tibor SZVIRCSEV TRESCH

      The end of the Cold War has not seen the expected decline in the relevance of armed forces. In fact, armed forces across the world, especially those of NATO member countries and NATO partners, are busier than ever before. They have to cover the whole range of missions – from peacekeeping to combat. For this reason, armed forces are deployed in missions in an array of tasks to combat threats of a military and mostly a non-military trans-national nature emerging from political, economic, societal, and environmental considerations.226

      To combat these threats, NATO armed forces are deployed together with Alliance partners...

  12. (pp. 278-278)