Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Soldiers and Civil Power

Soldiers and Civil Power: Supporting or Substituting Civil Authorities in Modern Peace Operations

Thijs W. Brocades Zaalberg
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 528
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Soldiers and Civil Power
    Book Description:

    Peace operations became the core focus of many Western armed forces after the Cold War. The wish amongst political and military leaders during the 1990s to hold on to the classical identity of the armed forces as an instrument of force made them pursue a strict separation between military operations and the civilian aspects of peacekeeping, such as policing, administrative functions, and political and societal reconstruction. In his book Soldiers and Civil Power, Thijs Brocades Zaalberg argues that this policy failed to match up to reality. Supporting civil authorities, and at times even substituting them (de facto military governance), became the key to reaching any level of success in Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo. As a result of the false segregation between the civilian and the military domain, this was accomplished mostly by improvisation and creativity of commanders who probed for the limiting boundaries of their original mandate by reaching ever further into the civilian sphere. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0390-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-22)

    The adage that any military plan is only as good as the assumptions that underlie it is a central theme in this book. During international interventions in civil wars in the 1990s in Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, the reaction of warring parties and the local population to initial military success – or failure – often proved unpredictable. Intervening forces tended to fall victim to the law of unintended consequences which, during times of chaos, operates at exponential levels. This study examines how the unintended consequences of the presence of a new source of power in a war-torn society placed...

  5. Part I THE CIVIL-MILITARY INTERFACE: in Twentieth-Century Military Operations

    • 1 Substituting the Civil Power: Civil Affairs and Military Government in World War II
      (pp. 25-44)

      History is rife with examples of soldiers acting as governors. The military has exercised what was in essence civil power from the days of the Roman proconsuls to military commanders of the modern imperialist powers. The former combined military and civil powers in one person while ruling the provinces of the Roman Empire. The latter were often called upon in the nineteenth century to temporarily administer the rapidly expanding colonies. The prevailing image, however, of a modern and benevolent type of military rule over other people is the Allied occupation of conquered territories in Europe and Asia during and after...

    • 2 Supporting the Civil Power: Counterinsurgency and the Return to Conventional Warfare
      (pp. 45-72)

      After the post-war occupations in Europe and Asia came to an end, most of the specific knowledge of civil affairs evaporated. With the rapid reductions of the military forces that had fought the Second World War the British, Canadians, and Australians discarded their specialized capacity to perform military interim government activities, leaving only the US Army in possession of a dedicated civil affairs organization. However, civil affairs survived in two different forms outside the United States. The Second World War dramatically upset the existing world order and the two prevailing politico-military developments to emerge in its wake were superpower rivalry...

  6. Part II COMPLEX PEACEKEEPING: The United Nations in Cambodia

    • 3 Making Sense of the Mission: UNTAC’s Military and Civil Mandates
      (pp. 75-102)

      In 1992, the UN embarked on the most ambitious peace operation in its history. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was more than a peacekeeping operation. Not only was the aim to put an end to over two decades of civil war, it intended to place the country under virtual trusteeship and give the Cambodians a crash course in democracy. For the first time in the United Nation’s history, a peace mission was supposed to take over the administration of an independent member state. UNTAC was an early example of a new type of ‘complex peacekeeping’ that moved...

    • 4 The Slippery Slope toward Public Security: Soldiers and Policemen in Cambodia
      (pp. 103-124)

      The maxim goes that few plans ever survive the first shot fired on the battlefield. The same appears to be true for the murky area between war and peace as the military plan in Cambodia got bogged down almost as soon as UNTAC crossed the starting line.¹ Its leaders therefore had to either abandon the mission or improvise and change it drastically. However, a decision was postponed for several months. This left UNTAC’s military to muddle through from August 1992 onwards, while hoping the Khmer Rouge would join the peace process after all. Parallel to the limited cantonment activities some...

    • 5 ‘Sanderson’s Coup’: Militarized Elections amidst Escalating Violence
      (pp. 125-158)

      In November 1992, UNTAC had been in a serious quandary about whether to abandon the mission, postpone it and hope for conditions in Cambodia to improve, or continue under the then-present reality. On 30 November, following the advice of the secretary general, the UN Security Council formally authorized UNTAC’s military component to remain in Cambodia in full strength and help complete the civilian part of the mission.¹ The combined civil-military operation now centered on the organization of free and fair elections for more than four million Cambodians who had never had the right to vote and had to be convinced...

  7. PART III AMERICAN INTERVENTIONS: Segregating Civil and Military Spheres

    • 6 ‘Peacekeeping’ in a Power Vacuum: The Reluctant American Occupation of Somalia
      (pp. 161-198)

      In Cambodia, soldiers had gone beyond any role previously performed in a peace operation. They had extended their activities far into the civilian sphere in order to save the UN mission from imminent failure. Parallel developments were taking place in Somalia, but under very different circumstances and with different results. Between December 1992 and May 1993, a powerful intervention force under United States command was given a much narrower mission to secure the delivery of food aid to a starving population amidst the reigning anarchy in Somalia. Confusion over the mission soon arose as there was no agreement to uphold...

    • 7 Securing and Governing Baidoa: Australia’s Living Laboratory in Somalia
      (pp. 199-244)

      Australian troops arrived in Somalia one month into the operation, just as UNITAF was reaching its peak strength of 38,000 in mid-January 1993. An opportunity for peace seemed to present itself as the warlords’ military capacity was temporarily neutralized. By this point, however, the intervention process stalled, as there was no plan on how to proceed. Complex issues such as disarmament and restoration of government and services continued to be outside Washington’s scope, but the United States continued to treat the two most powerful warlords, Aideed and Ali Mahdi, as legitimate political players. Washington’s ability to provide strategic direction was...

    • 8 One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Widening the Civil-Military Gap in Bosnia
      (pp. 245-286)

      After the embarrassment suffered by the United Nations in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia, the belief in peace operations as a successful means of intervention in civil wars plunged to an all-time low in 1995. The Western powers, although carrying much of the blame for previous failures, decided they would never again allow their soldiers to become ‘eunuchs at the orgy,’ as UN peacekeepers had been characterized in Bosnia. They entrusted their major military operations in the Balkans to NATO, their own regional security organization. The regionalization of military peace operations was thus set in motion, and the Implementation Force (IFOR)...

  8. PART IV KOSOVO: Military Government by Default

    • 9 The Kosovo Force: Entering the Wasteland
      (pp. 289-310)

      Three years separated NATO’s first peace operation in Bosnia from the Alliance’s first war over the fate of Kosovo in the spring of 1999. After the protracted bombing campaign forced Milosevic’s security forces to leave the Albanian-dominated Yugoslav province, NATO inserted a large ground force that was to keep the peace, but found itself exercising de facto military governance in the ensuing power vacuum. Just as NATO officially never called it a war, however, it would not refer to the takeover as an occupation. Its Kosovo Force (KFOR) was mostly planned, perceived and referred to as a peacekeeping force. After...

    • 10 The Kosovar Constabulary: The Race between Order and Disorder
      (pp. 311-342)

      After Serb security forces left Kosovo in relative good order following NATO’s entry, renewed hostilities between the warring parties were unlikely. KFOR appeared to be an immediate success as far as performing its primary military task was concerned. By intervening with force on humanitarian grounds, NATO had secured the well being of the Albanian majority of Kosovo. However, it was now up to KFOR to show the world that, on its watch, it would not allow reverse ethnic cleansing. Controlling the UÇK became the key to creating a secure environment for all Kosovars, Albanian and Serb. Not only was the...

    • 11 Peacekeepers in Pursuit of Justice: Protecting and Prosecuting Serbs in Orahovac
      (pp. 343-368)

      The multi-ethnic ideal propagated by NATO and the UN for the Balkans was sorely tested in Kosovo. Like most sizable military interventions in the 1990s, both the military and civilian components fell victim to the law of unintended consequences. Officially replacing Serb with international rule, but failing to effectively establish interim authority in the short term allowed the former victims to become perpetrators, and the dominant elite to become victims.

      The prime concern was to prevent Kosovo from being emptied of all minorities in the summer of 1999. This scenario, which became more likely with every act of ethnic violence,...

    • 12 The UÇK’s Silent Coup: KFOR in the Civil Administrative Vacuum
      (pp. 369-390)

      After UN Security Council Resolution 1244 had practically suspended Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo, the distribution of governmental power in Kosovo was a highly complex matter. There were several competitors in the ring. All hopes were vested in Bernard Kouchner’s United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to rapidly assume full governmental responsibility, but for reasons similar to those hampering previous civilian missions, the UN was unable to deliver in the short term. There was no UN administrator ready to walk into the municipal building in Orahovac and take up office there, the way that civil affairs Major Joppolo had positioned himself...

    • 13 The Tools at Hand: Civil-Military Cooperation in Kosovo
      (pp. 391-414)

      General Mike Jackson’s impressive military force, eventually numbering some 45,000 troops, was ill equipped and poorly prepared to deal with a power vacuum in a province inhabited by almost two million people. With tanks, artillery, and massive air support, KFOR had ‘escalation dominance’ if anyone chose to challenge it by force. It was superior on the ground compared to most military expeditions of the 1990s. Battalion commanders such as David Hurley and Patrick Cammaert would have been jealous of the ratio of forces to the size of the sector at Anton van Loon’s disposal. What KFOR lacked more than numbers...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 415-430)

    Outside intervention in civil wars in Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo triggered reactions within each of these societies that made the assumptions underlying the military plans invalid at an early stage. In John Hersey’s novelA Bell for Adano, American civil affairs Major Victor Joppolo disregarded the plans he had received for administering the Sicilian town Adano in 1943. His detailed instructions disappeared into the wastebasket after he took office in the town hall. The orders seemed of little value during the first days of his military reign. Instead, he followed his inclinations and went to the people of Adano...

    (pp. 431-448)
  11. Glossary and Military Terminology
    (pp. 449-452)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 453-524)
  13. Index
    (pp. 525-528)