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Revolutionizing the military education



War amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead. (SMITH, 2008, p. 374)

1. Introduction

The military post-modern era has brought, according to Moskos et al. (2000), new threats and challenges to the most relevant Armed Forces, mainly after the Cold War.

In the military, post-modernism refers to the new operational scenario framed by the Revolution in Military Affairs (MOSKOS, WILLIAMS, SEGAL, 2000), which is based upon technical and sociocultural changes that have been confronting military organizations today. Thus, amongst the main elements that characterize the Revolution in Military Affairs are the development and use of technical and technological means; interaction between civilians and military personnel; change of the missions from conventional combat operation to humanitarian missions with low intensity; multilateral actions under the auspices of international organisms; and internationalism of military forces. All these facts have been proving that the tendency of war has really changed, as General Rupert Smith has pointed out recently. (2008)

This study focuses on sociocultural changes required by this new operational context, emphasizing the role of education and training of military personnel in order to better benefit from technical and technological means. It also highlights that if influence of technology on tactics, operations, doctrine, planning, equipment and training of military formations is often to be considered dependant on financial possibilities, opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions; on the other hand, the impacts of technology on these issues are also dependent on investments in military education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

In developed countries, technological advances are based on educational systems that allow the transference of new studies and researches, products, information systems and knowledge into social, cultural, economical and scientific development. On the contrary, countries that choose not to face the challenges imposed by education are still under technological threat, dependency and decisions. China and India had chosen to invest in education and the positive results were already reported by the Central Intelligence Agency (2006), proving the relevance of such investment in either civil or military settings.

One possible way to provide educational opportunities for under-developing nations to face the challenges and fill in their educational gaps is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI). This initiative fosters the development of projects and stimulates each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes.

In Brazilian army this initiative had been already taken, thus civil and military HEI have been working on academic projects which aim to bring up civilians to discuss National Defence and Security with military personnel through official partnerships already established between Brazilian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education (BRASIL, 2005).

To face this challenge, the Brazilian army Command and General Staff College has just created an Institute named Instituto Meira Mattos (IMM), which will gather civil and military academicians willing to taking a post-graduate course on National Defence, therefore promoting academic partnerships to enrich and strengthen the debates on National Defence and Security within Brazilian society.

Since the need to establish these partnerships is already implemented, it is time to think about theoretical and methodological educational policies and practices to underpin these initiatives. In this direction, the framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) in military educational settings should be considered to support post-modern environments in which soldiers operate today, mainly because as General James N. Mattis1 had noticed “we have to diminish the idea that technology is going to change warfare. [because] War is primarily a human endeavor.” (MATTIS apud BORUM, 2012, p. 35) Thus, human terrain and its sociocultural dimensions should be deeply considered in military educational arena to provide the development and better use of technical and technological means and their influence on tactics, operations and doctrine,

Curricular policies and practices as well as technology rely on cultural, political and conservative contexts, especially in military settings where decisions will directly influence on tactics, operations, doctrine and on individuals. Therefore, to convince high commanders of the need to implement sociocultural changes in military education has been a challenge for the organization to overcome, as pointed out in an interview I had with a Dutch soldier.

It has not always been easy to convince the military (from general to rank-and-file) of the need to include cultural training in the military curriculum. But after several military operations abroad (from 1992 onwards: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kampuchea, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan) the message is now well-understood. (2009)

Guided by the theoretical framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) and peace studies (GALTUNG, 1990), the present study emerged from my doctoral thesis (COSTA, 2009) and was guided by a qualitative research (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000) I had recently conducted.

This research relies on a case study developed at Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CI Op Paz), which was recently evolved into Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB),2 proving that the nature and demands of the missions today have required more enlarged educational perspectives. To accomplish this research a documental and discursive analysis was done, mainly interviews held with soldiers who deployed in different peacekeeping missions as well as the speeches of the actors who are in charge of their training.

The study had proved it is a need to (re)think the extent to which Brazilian army is preparing their human resources to face the sociocultural challenges for deploying in post-modern scenarios (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), chiefly military personnel prepared at CCOPAB, due to the multidimensional and multicultural demands of peace missions today.

As a result, this study sought to guide decision makers towards solving the opposing tension between invention and innovation in military education and training, pointing out the most appropriate educational practices to support soldiers to deal with the sociocultural challenges and demands required by the Revolution in Military Affairs.

In fact, Lastro & Cassiolato (2003) had highlighted that “[…] more serious than not having access to new technologies and information is not to have enough knowledge to use them.” (p. 12). However, the research problem I carry out is that what if we have full access to knowledge and information, technologies and technical means, but do not deeply consider that

[…] understanding the human dimension of a conflict is critically important. There is much more to the human dimension than knowing an adversary’s culture. Even a deep grasp of culture and social dynamics is not sufficient to win a war (though a deficient understanding may be enough to lose one). (BORUM, R., 2011, p. 36, our marks)

In broader educational terms, I argue it is also a need to consider that the lack of access to new information and technology for underdeveloping countries would increase the actual inequalities between developed and emerging countries and contributes even more to separate these countries in terms of technology and information (AROCENA & SUTZ, 2003), chiefly now when instant, surgical and segregated wars have been considered a privilege of technologically and economically dominant nations. (CASTELLS, 1999)

In this direction, it is desirable to any national educational strategy seeking to minimizing social exclusion to promote education (either civil or military), towards providing opportunities to learn, select and use appropriately not only information but technology, as well as enlarging students’ perceptions on human sociocultural dimensions. The partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions that have been promoted by Brazilian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education is an example of a fruitful avenue that may lead to minimize educational gaps in terms of technology, advances and transference as well as in terms of developing the better competences to provide their use in new operational scenarios.

2. Multiculturalism: A Methodological and Theoretical Approach for Military Education  

As already mentioned, a qualitative research investigation directed our methodological path (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000), through the undertaking of a case study, which relies on interviews and documental analyses. Interviews were held with military personnel who had experienced being in peacekeeping operations to know their perceptions acting within multidimensional/multicultural scenarios as well as those in charge of their training. This strategy of inquiry is especially relevant to research in educational fields because it allows acknowledging actors’ and agents’ different perspectives and voices. On the other hand, documental analysis provides information to the extent to which a Brazilian military educational institution that prepares troops for peacekeeping operations has taken into account their sociocultural/multicultural needs, other than operational ones. This analysis has been undertaken so as to gauge how far the curriculum has been (or has not been) imbued with a multicultural direction.

That is arguably relevant due to the constant interaction of those troops with different nationalities, cultures, values and languages during military missions. As a result, it becomes important to draw special attention upon strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of culturally plural societies. In this case, educational strategies and policies for soldiers training to deploy in multicultural scenarios, aggravated by ethnical, religious, cultural conflicts and threats imposed upon those which are not technologically and economically dominant (CASTELLS, 1999).

This study was guided by McLaren’s perspective (2000) towards critical multiculturalism (more recently referred to as post-colonial/revolutionary multiculturalism or emancipatory multiculturalism), which promotes concern about the danger of cultural homogenization in educational policies and practices, seeking to explore curricular and evaluative strategies which challenge ethnocentrism and prejudices. This way, multiculturalism is understood as minorities’ responses to cultural homogenization.

The theoretical distinction between the terms multicultural and multiculturalism according to Hall (2000) is also considered in this study since it conceives that

[…] multi-cultural is used adjectivally. It describes the social characteristics and problems of governance posed by any society in which different cultural communities live together and attempt to build a common life while retaining something of their ‘original’ identity. By contrast, ‘multiculturalism’ is substantive. It references the strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of diversity and multiplicity which multi-cultural societies throw up. It is usually used in the singular, signifying the distinctive philosophy or doctrine which underpins multi-cultural strategies. ‘Multi-cultural,’ however, is by definition plural. (p. 209-210)

The multicultural approach adopted here underpins Castell’s interpretation of globalization which pinpoints that instead of developing efforts and results towards science and technology, globalization; on the contrary, has developed a national concentration of these activities which has been shared between those countries technologically advanced (CASTELL, 1999).

In this direction, education plays a special role, chiefly because as Castell (op. cit.) points out, we have witnessed the effects of globalization which has deeply increased sociocultural and economical differences amongst countries and regions in place of minimizing them. Lastros & Cassiolato (2003) also throw lights on the need to invest in education, since they pinpoint the role of innovation and its impact on technical, institutional and social dimensions as a survival and competitive organizational strategy. However, these authors highlight that the process of innovation requires knowledge and ability to learn, incorporate and use it.

At this point, I argue a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is also required since the Revolution in Military Affairs has not deeply considered and highlighted it yet; otherwise, military organizations will run the risk of being dependant on financial possibilities and opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions as well as on the evaluation of the extent to which new or modern pedagogical practices are innovative or inventive to accomplish contemporary military training. Therefore, military specialization to develop and use technology and technical means should be nurtured as well as military pedagogical and curricular policies / practices to confront the challenges imposed by new contexts.

In this horizon, educational practices should be especially developed to offer military personnel opportunities to rehearse political and intellectual competences, which are considered to be the main challenges imposed upon education since the end of the XX Century. (LIBANEO, 2001)

Align with this context, the commander of Brazilian army’s general guidelines for 2011-2014 period (BRASIL, 2011), stressed the competences and skills expected from Brazilian soldiers, such as:

(…) to implement educational competences to contextualize the teaching in order to link knowledge and technologies to decisions and performances in a variety of situations (..) to create courses for civilians at the staff college (…) to enlarge the exchange with civil academia. (BRASIL, 2011, p. 19)

With the release of these guidelines together with Brazilian National Defense Policy (2005) and Brazilian National Defense Strategy (2008), key words such as integration of Brazilian army with the nation, interaction with civil academic community and interoperability between the Armed Forces have been discussed in military educational settings and some relevant initiatives have been taken to attend these needs.

As a result, the exchange between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions should be nurtured to integrate military schools and training centers, seeking to provide sociocultural competences and skills to better equip military formations in the 21st Century.

To prove this need some excerpts from a documental analysis of a military curriculum from Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center and interviews held with military personnel directly involved with peacekeeping missions will be presented.

2.1. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center: multicultural oriented concerns in the subject plan

The Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center develops different courses for military personnel. Within the limits of this article, the focus will be on the preparation of soldiers, mainly troops, staff officers and military observers. The first ones because they represent a group that is always in touch with local population in a tense and stressing context, allowing us to witness their cultural difficulties and opportunities that arose in those situations. The other groups were chosen due to the fact that the real ‘weapon’ they carry in peacekeeping missions is their ability to strategically manage, negotiate and otherwise nonviolently respond to conflicts.

Those groups of soldiers need preparation for dealing with the multicultural dimensions of their missions, with all associated implications, having arguably to particularly acquire multicultural competencies that allow them to manage conflicts in a peaceful perspective.

The study realized that the curriculum of the referred Center is mostly operational in essence.

It is operational. Not only operational, as I told you, the focus on combat operations was higher, straight on combat operations, because we realized the troop should be prepared to the worst situation. Now it has changed. We are aware that the situation may suddenly spoil the personnel have to have these tools […]. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

However, some parts of it do mention multicultural concerns. Below there are some excerpts of the curriculum that evidence some of the discourses presented in the documentation. In fact, the course has specific purposes, in which culturally oriented sensitivities emerge, such as:

describe the importance of cooperation and integration of components in a mission; understanding the relationships and roles of the different components; recognizing the consequences of inappropriate actions to the rules / standards of conduct; recognizing the importance of different cultural events in the peace operations; understanding the various cultural contexts; develop skills for working in multicultural environments; identify the principles of civil-military coordination; indicate the skills of communication and negotiation; identify how to develop the relationship with the press in the Missions of Peace; identify the impact that exists in their respective roles [men and women] to building peace; describe how to handle tense domestic situations amongst the team members in a multicultural and multinational environment; raise awareness of the situations that can happen when individuals from different cultural and political environments live for long periods together; explain the main concepts related to the multicultural environment; describe and explain the main concepts of loyalty and respect in the team’s place; use appropriate language according to various situations. (CCOPAB’s subject plan, 2009)

In order to develop the curriculum, the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) provides Standard Generic Training Modules (SGTM)3 to all Centers in the world in charge of soldiers’ preparation to peace operations and these are the modules that have been presented during the course under study. Due to the limits of this article, we will focus only on the subject plan; however, in previous work (COSTA & CANEN, 2008) we had also analyzed the intentions expressed in the following ones, due to their intimate connection to our research theme: SGTM 5 (about the code of conduct), and SGTM 11 (about communication and negotiation). SGTM 5 deals with the “Attitudes and Behaviors of the United Nations Peacekeepers” and is further divided into the following sub-modules: 5A- ‘Code of Conduct, 5 B- ‘Cultural Awareness’, 5C- ‘Gender & Peacekeeping’ and 5D- ‘Child Protection’.

Some of the curriculum topics of those modules seem to be clearly underlied by multicultural perspectives more aligned to a folkloric approach, valuing cultural diversity, but silencing cultural conflicts and prejudices, as expected in more critical, post-colonial multicultural perspectives. (MCLAREN, 2000; HALL, 2003; 2004)

Indeed, as could be noted in the documentation, some of the objectives clearly point to a multicultural awareness, emphasizing the need to understand cultural diversity in order to act in culturally disparate situations which touches on a broad multicultural perspective (MCLAREN, 1997; HALL, 2003). However, it does not seem to explicitly incorporate the discussions and concepts related to multiculturalism embedded by tensions present in critical, post-colonial and post-modernized perspectives, drawing upon an understanding of identity as an historic, social and cultural construction in contrast to an intrinsic character to be revealed. (MCLAREN, 2000)

It seems to be clear from the above excerpts that issues such as communication and negotiation, understanding of different cultures and languages, as well as a perspective of empathy towards ‘the other’ are present, indicating multicultural sensibilities (CANEN & COSTA, 2007; CANEN & CANEN, 2011). However, a more explicit and concrete mention of multicultural would be likely to contribute to a better understanding and incorporation of these instructions, arguably enriching and strengthening the preparation of the military agents for peacekeeping missions as well as other operational missions.

By the above illustration, we can infer that the curriculum of CCOPAB has the potential for a multicultural training for soldiers; however, those excerpts seem to convey the idea that the curriculum touches on more abstract multicultural terms, even though at some points prejudices and discriminations are mentioned.

At least, at the level of intentions, the curriculum points out the importance of cultural issues in an era marked by the expansion and the complex nature of modern peace operations. It reminds its readers that peacekeepers represent the United Nations and their own countries; therefore, a positive or negative attitude will impact directly on the mission success.

2.2. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB): multicultural potential and limits in soldiers’ perspectives

The importance of mediation in conflict resolution is strictly connected to a multicultural attitude towards those perceived as different, highlighting the straight imbrications of multiculturalism. Bearing that in mind, we have also analyzed how the curriculum of the CCOPAB has been mediated by those who were targeted by it. We have therefore tried to glean the sense made of that preparation by Brazilian military personnel who had experienced different peace missions, including the following ones: the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III); and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Interviews held with those subjects were instrumental in conveying their feelings, needs and challenges. It is important to note that the interviewees included soldiers, who carry out given orders, up to generals and commanding staff, in the political and strategic planning of the missions. For ethical reasons, their names were omitted in this narrative.

In the limits of the present paper, some of the answers provided by the interviewees should give a glimpse of their ideas concerning the extent to which they felt the curriculum of CCOPAB in the Brazilian Army helped them feel prepared to act in disparate cultural contexts. Initially, most of them seemed to believe in the natural “knack” of Brazilian military agents towards understanding cultural diversity and effectively dealing with it (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), regardless of multicultural education:

[…] Brazilian people have always been a little bit extroverted […] it’s not the characteristic of other people […] they are more serious people […], they are closed up […] This question of maintaining security is a positive aspect, but it is a bigger issue that includes Brazil as a whole […]. However, smaller actions such as social-civilian activities, contact with the people, day-by-day constant talking, helps to make them [the host country] feel Brazil as a friend country that is there [in Haiti] to help. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH).

Others; however, felt the need to express their feelings as related to the curriculum of the Center in terms of the extent to which they felt some aspects could be worked out more intensely for a multicultural perspective:

I think it would have been interesting if we had worked with those concepts [of respect, for instance] right away in the course, independently of the peace mission […]. We should have known the reality [cultural one] we would have to face, and that really would have made things easier […]. If one can make this preparation [cultural one] […], it would be excellent. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As shown by the above excerpts, it seems that despite having developed their own strategies to deal with cultural differences, the military personnel interviewed have expressed their feelings about the relevancy of being adequately be prepared to act in operations where they are exposed to cultural plurality in their daily routines. The above data seem to point out that a more structured preparation could boost their efficiency in dealing with cultural plurality, and could represent an asset to the Brazilian Army curriculum development. Even though some of the topics the interviewees pointed as lacking in their preparation were present in the curriculum objectives, as briefly discussed in the previous section, it seems to be clear they were not highlighted in curriculum practices and mediations.

This seems to be understood by the subjects of the study, as plainly expressed in the following excerpts:

[…] to listen is very difficult […]. If everybody learns to listen, there won’t be struggles, but we, in general, do not know to listen […]. It’s country “a” wishing to impose itself on country “b”, country “c” imposing itself on country “d”, and so on […]. I think the idea that must underlie [our preparation] is exactly to accept the differences […]. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think the Army should develop a programme towards reinforcing this conception [respect and acceptance towards the different] […] not everybody has this experience of respecting another culture. In some ways, we could also integrate people’s cultural backgrounds to the scientific, more organized, more directed knowledge. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve our performance in order to have the soldiers doing it consciously rather than unconsciously. (soldier 8, from MINUSTAH)

Other testimonies of soldiers about the curriculum can be important at this point:

There is a 50 minute instruction. It is mainly theoretical: do like that, culture is this, it is that […]. There aren’t practical exercises […]. There should be someone from another culture who could be there for a programme […]. What happened was a 50 minute theoretical instruction about this [cultural issue] (soldier 1, from MINUTASH).

I think soldiers should have been advised on the following lines: you are going to a mission where there are problems which you will not solve as you are used to, but you will have to solve them, even by not really solving them […] (soldier 4 from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think we should have had a more complete study: we should have studied the culture of the country where we have to act, the culture of the political parties there, we should know deeply the history of the conflict, all regional problems […]. All that cultural part should have been known. (soldier 7, of UNAVEM III)

It would have been interesting […] to talk to the trainees exactly what they are bound to face, in terms of challenges and cultural aspects…surely there are many aspects that won’t be the same among the countries, but those pieces of information are important in order for us not to have a cultural shock. (soldier 5, from MINUSTAH)

We can also, in some way, join what the person has in his/her cultural background with knowledge. I mean scientific knowledge, more organized, more directed. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve this performance so the person does it consciously, not unconsciously. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As can be noted, even though the soldiers recognize the relevance of the techniques and the training received, they seem to wish that the curriculum should emphasize more the multicultural dimensions in a more concrete way. However, that seems to be on the way of improvement, as it was explained to me by the actual main mediator of the curriculum development in the referred Center, in a recent visit. In fact, the following excerpts should be useful in providing an illustration of that progress, in terms of curriculum development, as explained by its main mediating actor:

We have come to the conclusion that […] the soldier is not the only component: there also are the civilians, who are in the day-to-day peace keeping operation, who face the routines, the difficulty of the use of foreign language, and a lot of other things. […] So, during the training, we set up 04 (four) concurrent fiction case incidents in which we took civilian students from the International Relations Course of a University in Sao Paulo, as well as journalists from another one […]. In those simulated situations, when a soldier made a mistake, or took the wrong decision, got “shot” or “killed” the commander, the journalist was there to show the news, the international relations person to report and analyse, and, this way, all the wheel moved […]. The exercise became smart. That made a very big change and, from there, with other troops, we worked the same way […]. When you get the soldier to be the “actor”, even without wearing his uniform, if I put him/her in front of a colonel, he/she has never seen in his/her life, he/she will make a mistake…but together with journalists, he/she will become coerced to question, even because the profile of the journalist is completely different. (…). All of our exercise is in the street, is contextualized […]. I think our ability to interact, of having several players […], should be a competitive advantage of our own, as compared to some of other centers that prepare soldiers to peacekeeping missions […]. The evolution of the curriculum was done inasmuch as things started to become more structured. (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

Some areas, some professionals who are doing research in masters and doctorate courses are researching something that we are interested in (…). If this information get here to us tabulated, done […]. I consider it extremely relevant. […] Suddenly, we are also going to contribute to the study of an academician […] it will let him/her improves his/her research. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

If it were to include a subject for those who are going to such mission environment, it would be towards the cultural dimension of that country. It makes things much easier […] to emphasize on the cultural history of that country (…) a class, a class period, talking about cultural aspects of that country and giving tips that may be followed by those who are there in mission, to have a really better relationship performance, taking care of cultural aspects, as some training centers outside Brazil already do […] focusing on culture. Point out cultural awareness aspects. Provide a lecture on cultural aspects of the country [referring to the relationship of those in mission with the local population). (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 May 2012)

The above excerpts seem to point out to a much more integrated, cross-culturally informed curriculum practice, in line with many of the feelings previously expressed by the interviewees as related to the need to be culturally trained to face situations from different perspectives. Another excerpt from the above curriculum mediator also highlights the development of a more culturally informed approach to curriculum development, touching on other markers of identity, such as gender power relations, as can be noted in the following discourse:

Now sexual abuse, gender, and cultural awareness are discussed, towards a more humanitarian approach (…). Haiti has moved from peace enforcement, which had started with the United States, towards our action which has begun with peacekeeping, moving now towards peace-building. The big focus now is on the humanitarian support, how to live with these ‘guys’ […] hence the idea of the Center is to launch this course, the C3M – operation and civil-military coordination – because it is important that our soldiers begin to understand how to deal with the civilian and the humanitarian agencies.” (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

As depicted in the document analysis and interviews, it seems that albeit a concern with cultural issues and their implications for peace operations in the preparation of soldiers is present in the curriculum of the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (undoubtedly a positive feature of the case study), there is still a need of a more structured, academic and systematic reflection. The fact that our last visits to that Center showed increased sensitivity to multicultural aspects is undoubtedly a very welcome and auspicious feature, the importance of having military agents adequately and competently prepared for acting in multicultural scenarios is a necessity yet.

As shown earlier, Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center has been improving its curriculum in a multicultural sense, as briefly illustrated by the excerpts of two high level trainers earlier on in this paper. It seems to be much more aware of the relevance of multicultural issues in the preparation of military agents, which has contributed to the establishment of some partnerships between the referred Center and Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), in order to help with culturally-contextualized activities during pre-deployment. We consider that as a positive step and look forward to the strengthening of stronger partnerships that could take multiculturalism produced in the HEIs on board. That could surely help to promoting transformational educational practices both in military and civilian education contexts, towards a more multicultural and peaceful perspective.

3. Conclusion

The present study focused on sociocultural changes required to prepare soldiers to face the challenges imposed by the Revolution in Military Affairs, pointing out the role of education and training of military personnel in a multicultural approach in order to better benefit from the development of technical and technological means. The study aimed at emphasizing the need to invest in education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

Based on the collected data, it was noted it is necessary to provide educational opportunities for Brazilian military personnel to face the challenges imposed by the new operational environment. One possible alternative is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), since it fosters the development of projects and stimulate each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes. Another way evidenced through the interviews held with military personnel was the need to develop a systematized cultural training for depĺoyment of soldiers in multidimensional and multicultural scenarios.

In this direction, it was realized that a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is already taking place, mainly within Brazilian Process of the Transformation of the Army (BRASIL, 2011), as the guidelines of Brazilian Army Commander had highlighted already. Therefore, it is the intention of this research to re-visit Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center in the future. It is to figure out the extent to which its curriculum and the perception of the actors and agents directly involved with the preparation/training for peace missions have expanded towards a multicultural perspective in more engaged critical and post-colonial approaches. As a result, I intend to enlarge this research to operational environments, other than peacekeeping operations, mainly because as Sir Rupert Smith (2008) has highlighted “war amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead.” (p. 374)

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Prospects for a Settlement of the Libyan Conflict: Three Scenarios of the Mid-Term Forecast



More than ten years ago, in February 2011, the Arab Spring began in Libya. The armed uprising quickly escalated into an armed conflict that had Muammar Gaddafi overthrown. Since then, the civil war has not stopped in the country. At the heart of the current conflict in Libya is the confrontation between the Government of National Accord (GNA), located in Tripoli, and the Libyan House of Representatives, located in Tobruk. The government in Tobruk is supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. In April 2019, the LNA attempted to seize Tripoli, but it was forced to retreat following months-long siege of the city.

Current developments

2020 was marked by unprecedented efforts by international organizations, world powers and regional players, as well as attempts by both sides of the Libyan conflict, to resolve it by political means. On January 19, 2020, an international conference was held in Berlin, the participants of which called for the disarmament of all paramilitary groups and devised specific mechanisms for controlling the arms embargo. However, neither the conference resolution nor the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic led to—at least—a cessation of hostilities.

On October 23, 2020, representatives of the GNA and LNA signed a ceasefire agreement in Geneva, which the UN labelled historical. In November 2020, the Joint Military Commission, composed of representatives of the warring parties, agreed on practical steps to implement the agreement. In particular, agreement was reached on the creation of a military subcommittee to monitor the withdrawal of troops. On December 27, 2020, an official Egyptian delegation arrived on the first visit to Tripoli since 2014, where they discussed the prospects for mending Libyan-Egyptian relations as well as the economic agenda and security issues. Parliamentary elections in Libya are scheduled to be held in December 2021. Besides, there was agreement to hold a referendum on the Constitution in 2021.

Some politicians, scientists, and representatives of the expert and analytical community are optimistic about an early settlement of the Libyan conflict, but many of their colleagues, on the contrary, are quite skeptical. On the one hand, the escalation of hostilities that began in April 2019 has indeed subsided. On the other hand, experience shows that setting any specific dates for the electoral processes in Libya and provisions for transparent mechanisms to establish legitimate government bodies do not mean that elections will be held and their results will be subsequently recognized.

When predicting what the Libyan conflict will be in the medium term, it is necessary to take into account that the war in Libya is an absolute disequilibrium system. While the existing trends are susceptible to change sparked by the course of how things unfold, the conflict may take on new trajectories.

Scenario I. Political settlement

The civil war in Libya has been going on for more than ten years, and there have been repeated attempts to come to a political solution to the conflict over this time. The hope that this will happen remains. The efforts undertaken in 2020 to reach national consensus may not have been in vain as they could become a solid foundation for a political settlement of the conflict. The country may well manage to hold all-Libyan elections, with the people who will come to power enjoying relative legitimacy, both in the eyes of the world community and among ordinary Libyans.

Libya has 44.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves[1]. Cessation of hostilities will allow counting on Libya’s oil exports partially restored and, possibly, on new oil pipelines constructed. The long-awaited reconstruction of the transport infrastructure, oil production and oil refineries will ensue, which will play an instrumental role in the economic renaissance of the united Libyan state.

The new Libyan authorities will face a number of important tasks, including restoring production facilities, infrastructure and the housing stock of the country. Russian and foreign companies will have the opportunity to participate in the restoration of the Libyan state. At the meeting of the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation with the Libyan delegation on January 28, 2021, they discussed not only the prospects for diversifying trade between Russia and Libya but also avenues for participation of Russian companies in restoring energy, agriculture, industry, social and transport infrastructure in Libya.

China will certainly show its interest in the post-war revival of Libya. The GNA has welcomed the possible participation of China in reconstructing the country’s infrastructure once the war is ended. Over the past few years, Chinese diplomats have repeatedly met senior officials from the GNA to ultimately sign a Memorandum of Understanding under the Belt and Road Initiative.

There will be an opportunity to resume the deliveries of Russian weapons to the country. However, although the economic situation in the country will stabilize, the Libyan leadership is unlikely to have enough financial resources to pay for military imports. Competition with manufacturers from Europe and the USA may lead to a forced decrease in export profitability[2].

At the same time, there is a strong imprint of tribal relations on the Libyan society[3]. Even if political peace is established in Libya, it will be quite fragile. The society will remain fragmented, which means that the risk of social tensions growing will remain. Extremist and terrorist organizations operating in Libya can use this to destabilize the situation in the country. Weapons proliferation (mainly small arms)—which for many years were virtually freely distributed throughout the country—will serve as an additional factor in a hypothetical social explosion.

Scenario II. Escalation

It is possible that the establishment of even a fragile peace in Libya will not take place at all. One of the possible scenarios may be another escalation of hostilities. There can be many nominal reasons for the opposing sides to bring forward mutual accusations. These range from provocations during the pre-election period to non-recognition of the results of electoral processes. As a result, this can lead to a sharp escalation of tensions.

As Stephanie Williams, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, noted, every time the situation in Libya seems to have reached its lowest point there is a surge of violence. In September 2020, the UN announced that the LNA and the GNA—despite the relatively calm situation on the front line—will resort to receiving help of allies from abroad, thus accumulating modern weapons and military equipment. In two months, some 70 aircraft with suspicious cargo for the LNA landed at airports controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s army, and three cargo ships stopped in the ports in the east of the country. 30 aircraft and nine cargo ships delivered cargo for the GNA.

At a meeting on the Libyan political dialogue on December 2, 2020, Stephanie Williams announced that there are ten military bases in Libya that are fully or partially occupied by foreign troops and that host about 20,000 foreign mercenaries. The cessation of hostilities was used by the government in Tripoli and the LNA to cement their positions and enhance the combat effectiveness of their troops, including through assistance from abroad. In January 2021, it was recorded that the mercenaries were building a defensive line and fortifications—presumably, in order to repel a possible attack by the GNA troops on the LNA-controlled territory.

Against the background of the confrontation between Russia and the United States likely to intensify, the degree to which the conflict is internationalized may increase, much as the control over the arms embargo tighten and the role of private military companies as a foreign policy asset of individual states expand. Private military companies help reduce political risks that a state’s engagement in the war in Libya entails, while actively supporting one group or another by sending weapons, military instructors or mercenaries.

There is a danger of destroying the remnants of Libya’s oil infrastructure, the backbone of the country’s economy. Artillery shelling of residential areas will cause additional interruptions in water and electricity deliveries to Libyan cities. Illegal migrants attempting to enter the EU countries, especially Italy, will become more frequent.

The Republic of Turkey, which claims a leading role in the region and seeks to revive the “former greatness” of the Ottoman Empire, is sharply intensifying its actions[4]. Most likely, Ankara will support the government in Tripoli, not only with weapons, but also with troops, as it happened in January 2020. Egypt will continue to support the LNA, as it hopes this can minimize Libyan weapons being smuggled into Egypt. At the same time, the possibility of direct military intervention by Egypt remains extremely low. Even if Turkey sends large military units to help the GNA, Cairo will be reluctant to enter into a protracted military conflict, the outcome of which is unclear. Moreover, a direct military clash between Turkey and Egypt is practically impossible on account of their belonging to military and political blocs. Rather, in response to Ankara’s decisive actions in Libya, Cairo will deploy troops on the border with Libya or transfer part of its units to the LNA-controlled Libya’s eastern regions. However, the prospect of the Egyptian troops advancing further to the West seems unlikely.

Scenario III. Maintaining the status quo

Despite attempts by both sides to embark on political dialogue, official statements by representatives of the opposing sides contain aggressive, accusatory rhetoric. For example, in a video message to the delegates of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Faiz Saraj referred to Khalifa Haftar’s offensive in Tripoli in April 2019 as “a tyrannical attack of the aggressor.” In addition, he urged not to compare foreign support for the “militants of Khalifa Haftar” with the help provided to the government in Tripoli “within the framework of legitimate agreements.”

In today’s conditions, it will be rather difficult for the main political forces in Libya to organize the work of the central electoral commission and other bodies in preparation for the elections. Besides, it should be borne in mind that the GNA, the LNA and a number of independent armed factions operating in Libya can control the electoral processes and, if necessary, sabotage them. One of the parties may try to disrupt the elections altogether. At the same time, the escalation described in scenario II seems rather unlikely to occur, as the world community is paying greater attention to the war in Libya.

The war in Libya provokes conflicts in at least 14 countries in Africa and Asia, mainly due to weapons smuggling[5]. Despite the possible strengthening of international control, maintaining the existing balance of power in Libya will provoke new conflicts and serve as a hotbed of destabilization in the neighboring countries, such as Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. Should the next plan for a political settlement of the conflict fail, Libya risks becoming another Afghanistan, close to Europe.

What of the Libyans?

The last two scenarios seem to be the most likely. In 2019, the Arab Barometer[6]. conducted a sociological study that clearly shows how Libyans themselves perceive the situation in their country and what they see as key problems [7].

Top challenges (Figure 1) cited include foreign interference (19%), fighting terrorism (16%), corruption (14%), security (13%), economy (12%), internal stability (9%) and political issues (8%)[8].

It also turned out that Libyans have little confidence in political institutions (Figure 2). Among the most trusted institutions are the army (59%), the police (46%) and the judiciary (37%), while the least trusted are the government (10%), parliament (9%), and political parties (4%)[9].

Figure 3 offers an interesting view of the surveyed Libyans on democracy. According to the polls, democracy is always the preferable political system (58%). At the same time, many rated democracy as indecisive (37%), unstable (34%) and bad for the economy (34%)[10]. With this in mind, it is possible that the Libyans are unlikely to trust their single government.

No matter how the conflict’s landscape changes, there is reason to believe that the Libyan society will in any case remain divided for quite a long time. Its further fragmentation will almost certainly occur against the backdrop of hostilities coupled with the pandemic and a decrease in Libya’s oil exports. Socio-economic problems will create additional space for radical sentiments growing. The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have high mobility as well as an ability to regenerate, which means that an attempt may well be made to revive a new Islamic Caliphate, albeit not as large as it is was a few years ago.

In the report of the Valdai International Discussion Club “The Middle East: Towards an Architecture of New Stability?”, Vitaly Naumkin, Scientific Director of the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies, and Vasily Kuznetsov, Head of the RAS Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, noted that the situation in Libya will affect the entire Maghreb in the foreseeable future[11]. It is almost certain that Libya and the neighboring countries will be overwhelmed by a new wave of radicalization. According to the Arab Center for Research and Political Studies report, 2% of Arabs have a positive attitude towards ISIS and other radical groups, with another 3% having an extremely positive attitude towards them. This is the highest percentage since 2014–2015[12].

The situation in the region may aggravate, and it is necessary to increase effectiveness of the control over the transportation of weapons to and from Libya. In October 2020, the UN Security Council, chaired by Russia, adopted a resolution that extended the permit to inspect ships on the high seas off the Libyan coast. Indeed, this was the right step. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, humanitarian aid to Libyans also remains relevant, and it may include supplies of the necessary medical equipment to equip hospitals as well as personal protective equipment, of which Libya is now experiencing a shortage.

From our partner RIAC

  1. Fedorchenko, A. Krylov, D. Maryasis, N. Sorokina, F. Malakhov. The Middle East in the Focus of Political Analytics: Collected Papers: on the 15th Anniversary of the Center for Middle East Studies, 2019. P. 49.
  2. Ibid. P. 452.
  3. Ibid. P. 12.
  4. V. Avatkov. Ideological and value factor in Turkish foreign policy [Vestnik MGIMO], 2019, no. 12(4). P. 124.
  5. Fedorchenko, A. Krylov, D. Maryasis, N. Sorokina, F. Malakhov. The Middle East in the Focus of Political Analytics: Collected Papers: on the 15th Anniversary of the Center for Middle East Studies, 2019. P. 24.
  6. Arab Barometer is a nonpartisan research network that provides insight into the social, political, and economic attitudes and values of ordinary citizens across the Arab world.
  7. Libya Country Report /Arab Barometer V. 2019. P. 2.
  8. Ibid. P. 3.
  9. Ibid. P. 5
  10. Ibid. 2019. P. 7.
  11. V. Kuznetsov, V. Naumkin. Middle East: Towards a New Stability Architecture? 2020. P. 16.
  12. The 2019-20 Arab Opinion Index: Main Results in Brief, Arab Center for Research and Political Studies. P. 58.

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The Irony of Afghanistan: US Plans Departure amidst Anarchy



afghanistan terrorism
A family runs across a dusty street in Herat, Afghanistan. (file photo) UNAMA/Fraidoon Poya

The peace and prosperity in Afghanistan have been a mere myth for decades. With a succession of invasion by a blood-ridden Taliban rule followed by a 2-decade long US invasion, the said country has seen little tranquillity when it comes to human rights and secure living. While the US vowed to ensure a democratic regime laced by a rule of law in Afghanistan, the withdrawal seems anti-climactic: especially after spending trillions of dollars and suffering thousands of soldiers in warfare. As the egress nears, however, the one glimmer of hope dwindles faster than expected. The hope of peace. It is ironic, however, as to how an invasion initially programmed to contain terrorism is culminating whilst the transition witnesses similar bloodshed and instability.

The Taliban have been infamous for launching attacks against the Afghan armed forces and the US military on a perpetual basis. Not to mention hundreds and thousands of civilians facing the raucous vigilantes for years. While the agreement ensured the safety of the foreign soldiers, however, the civilians continue to face the brunt. The recent attack in the capital city of Kabul is a prime example of how the world superpower leaves the battlefield after instigating the barbaric factions for almost 20 years.

The bombs detonated last Thursday in the neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, resonating the community pithing the peripheries. The Shia-Hazara community, the largest community in the region, was the main target (as it has been for years by both Taliban and Islamic State). The targeted school rendered a majority of female students who were conceived to be the main target instead of their religious affiliation. Regardless of the underlying intent, the attacks left 68 dead while 165 victims are still struggling in hospitals. The sheer brutality of the attacks signifies how brazen the rebels stand in their positions while the western powers stagger off the mainland under a facade of victory when all that has been achieved is a fragile democracy and a ravaged land that potentially stands open to any militant group even before the forces exit.

Surprising, unfortunate, and even maudlin is hardly the sentiment to describe the brutality. It is the outright indifference that incriminates the US in the warfare that follows its exit. As the officials collect stationery and books strewn across the street, doused in blood, the US is blame-worthy to the slaughter that would most likely not be the end of the tyranny of the militants. The fact that is ridicule-worthy, however, is that the Taliban attended the mediation talks recently and ensured order and calm in Afghanistan, attesting to their will to enforce Shariah in Afghanistan whilst not meddling or overthrowing the government in the ensuing of the US egress. Mere days and the streets are coated with blood especially as Eid festivities are marking the same streets scattered with the remains of the innocent.

While the Taliban denied any involvement in the recent attack, either side poses a problem. If the involvement is in fact a reality, like it has been on similar occasions in the past, the gruesome fact stands tall. No one can stop the Taliban from spreading chaos if they truly want to. The pervasive nature of their rebellion could be gauged by a thorough historical analysis. A group that reached the United States in 2001 and a group that could not be withered by legendary powers like the Soviet Union in the 80s. The Taliban have steered the negotiations and even the US is aware of the leverage they enjoy given it is their homeland whilst the foreign forces have failed to dent their vice-grip on the terrain of Afghanistan.

If, however, the Taliban are taken true to their word, this poses a far sinister possibility. The attacks signify an underground nurturing of an offshoot militant group, possibly the IS or Boko Haram. With US and NATO exiting in September, the Ghani-regime struggling to ensure stability, and the Taliban holding power in scores, anarchy is much more plausible than tranquillity. The US withdraws from the land in the name of ending the endless war. The reality, however, is that the US is receding from an endless war. The war that was ignited by the US would continue to burn with or without the US. The difference is the switch from armed personnel to innocent students and minorities. It is a matter of perspective and, well, ownership and acceptance.

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5th Generation Warfare: A reality or Controversy?



In the truest sense, the constant repetition of phrase ‘the 5th generation warfare’ by our military leaders in every media conference has been true in the light of the exposition of the Indian sinister campaign against Pakistan in the ‘Indian Chronicles’. Those who were mocking the idea of 5th generation warfare in the context of Pakistan need to revisit their opinions, suggestions and warfare analysis.

Needless to say, Pakistan is facing enormous threats across its borders. The temperature has been red hot in the East and west borders of the country. Since the government of the Modi in its absolute fascistic endeavors took over the valley of Kashmir, the idea of the 5th generation warfare has become incredibly important to understand the volatile and emerging situations. While the India is accusing Pakistan regardless of its pathetic human rights violation in Kashmir, it seems that the war of demonization continues between these two arch-rivals.

Technically speaking, the dossier that Pakistan has recently published of its intelligence reports which clearly indicate the network of India that has been put in place to malign Pakistan and to come true in its ominous ambitions. In the light of the possible threats, Pakistan has to protect the CPEC projects from India and all the workings going on along the one belt and road project as we have undeniable evidence of the threats to the projects. Amid the rivalry of India and Pakistan, there is a play of world super powers as well as both America and China wants to expand their influence in the Asia, and Middle East.

If one belt and road initiatives stand tall in the face of the foreign funded attacks it would become the strength of the country in the near future. Along with protection of the OBOR projects Pakistan needs to understand the fact that it needs regional players to take part in OBOR extension to raise the stakes in it so that other regional actors will help making OBOR a successful economic venture. Since South Asia has been at the center of war from the last three decades only economic success is deemed to cut this root out. It will hopefully carry out people who have been radicalized because of the prolonged war on terror and the subsequent longest war of America in the Afghanistan territory.

The root cause of the Pakistani society of becoming violently rogue has been due to the pathetically designed strategic policies. Now, every effort on the part of the state must ensure economic progress. Wading into foreign wars, in the name of saving Islam has proved detrimental and counterproductive. The recent dossier that Pakistan has published largely identified this fact that the fallout of extremism and the wide network of India has exploited the regional issues, especially secessionists movements, in the country. It is time for our state to take responsible actions against these terror hideouts. Naming them or just publishing a dossier would not make difference until the whole infrastructure of the terror sites raze down to Earth.

The intelligence report that Pakistan has published certainly brought some results to the fore. One, India has been demonized subsequently more prominently in the Arnab Goswami case where it has been openly told to the world that India had fake surgical strikes inside Pakistan. This whole drama was just a political tactic by the BJP party to win in the general elections lately. This proved to the world that India has been maligning Pakistan and its interests in the world. But things are unsettling now. Time has come for India to take upon itself the weight of  its sinister plans against a neighboring country.

It is also theoretically important for the state of Pakistan to really see the emerging trends in the lens of 5th generation warfare as military cadre has been pointing repeatedly in every media conference. If one see the attacks on the infrastructure of the OBOR, insurgents activities along the Durand line, and through the case of Aranab Goswami case, it is vividly clear that the nefarious activities in the guise of 5th generation warfare are true.

There are many political commentators in the Dawn Newspaper who have downplayed the visible threats of 5th generation warfare calling it a facade because of their abnormal understanding of the emerging situation in south Asia. That is why to understand a situation like surgical strikes that too fake one, one is left with no choice but to look up to the themes like 5th Generation warfare.

Until we expose India and our many other enemies through precise and strategic actions with the help of our strategic think tanks, Pakistan will not grow up economically because for economic ease peace is the necessary condition. The core strategy of Indian so far has been deploying maximum pressure upon Pakistan. It is true that India has been successful in some way to malign Pakistan. Visibly, Pakistan has made a lot of investment in the building up of the infrastructure for OBOR projects but apparently our intra-regional trade has been dipped to 7.4 down from 12.2 percent in 2011. It means we have been massively slowed down by India with the help of rising up temperature at the borders and planning attacks inside the country.

All in all, 5th generation warfare has been true in the context of Pakistan. To understand this, we need to connect the dots. The connection of Pakistani intelligence dossier, to attacks inside the country, to Arab Goswami case  and to the Indian lab of disinformation proves the fact that 5th generation warfare is not lost on us. It is a time to rethink on these lines as we will have a tough time in balancing our economy through OBOR, opening intra-trade to maintain political instability in the country.

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