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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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US Air force : Competing with rivals or creating a new weaponry market?



US President Donald Trump has once again stressed the need for formation of US space force, reasoning that Russia and China are pioneers in the area.

The US Space Force, which is intended to have control over military operations in outer space, would be a new branch of the military by 2020, on par with the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard.

Trump’s remark proves that Washington’s main objective of the space force is not to lag behind in the competition with its traditional rivals.

This is the first time since the adoption of National Security Bill in 1947 that a new branch of military is added to the US Armed Forces. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), sometimes referred to informally as US Space Command, will be a major branch of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. This command intends to support US military operations worldwide with a variety of satellites and cybercrime operations. Approximately 47,000 people in 88 locations throughout the world will carry out AFSPC operations.

Trump believes that a mere US presence in space is not enough,  that it must dominate it as he does not want to see the dominance of China and other countries in space.

The new space force will have the same power as the other branches of the US Armed Forces, and will monitor space and cyber-attack operations, including satellite management and launches, including launches of ballistic missiles. But unlike NASA, which focuses mainly on space exploration and scientific discovery, the new space force will focus on military aspects and space defense.


The BBC writes that military and non-military operations in space carried out by the US Global Positioning System (GPS) could interfere with each other. Satellite navigation uses GPS, which the US military invented and is used by civilians, too.

“People are unlikely to know that space is now a military environment,” said Alexandra Stickings, research analyst for Space Policy and Security within the Military Sciences team at RUS, explaining that this has been going on for decades.

During the Cold War, the US and Soviet Union weren’t fighting in space but used spy satellites. At that time, Washington had deployed an anti-satellite rocket in the Pacific Ocean, and Moscow developed a weapon that could destroy a satellite in orbit.
According to Secure World Foundation, China, Russia and the US have the technology to destroy satellites. These weapons are missiles thrown directly from earth to a satellite in orbit.

These weapons are known as “same orbit” and are actually satellites launched by rockets from the ground. After the missile is separated, the satellite will target itself to the orbit of the satellite and will either connect to it or collide with it.
In 2007, China launched an anti-satellite rocket to destroy a meteor orbiting 800 kilometers above Earth. The experiment succeeded.

Meanwhile, Washington has claimed that Russia is developing a laser aerial system designed to disrupt US space systems. The Pentagon also claims that Moscow is creating missiles that can be launched from fighter planes to destroy US satellites.

Cecil Eugene Diggs Haney, a retired US Navy admiral who previously served as Commander, United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), said that the US should study raise funding for space programs and overall preparedness.

Fruitless efforts to demilitarize space

Although the US is pursuing military goals in space, under the pretext that China and Russia are taking military action there, in 2008 Moscow and Beijing proposed a draft international agreement to prevent the deployment of weapons in space. To this day, Washington has made various excuses and has not signed the agreement.

In 2014, Russia presented another draft resolution to prevent the deployment of weapons in space to the UN General Assembly, which once again faced opposition from the US and its allies.

In line with that, Reuters writes that evidence suggests the Trump Administration has defined space as a new battlefield. In his speech in the Pentagon, Mike Pence said: “History proves that peace only comes through strength. And the next generation of Americans to confront the emerging threats in the boundless expanse of space will be wearing the uniform of the United States of America as well.” Trump’s vice president several months ago also said that the US should strengthen its space force in the future as much as its ground forces.

Many people like Pence believe the US will face new threats in space soon. The Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, General David Goldfein, recently delivered a speech at the Air Force’s annual meeting where he said that mankind will eventually face space warfare that must use information from all areas, including air, cyber, land, sea and space, to increase its military strength.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has recently announced that the Pentagon agrees with the plan to form a space force and considers space a new battleground and that it plans to create a combat command. He added that the Pentagon fully understands Trump’s concerns about protecting U.S assets in space, thus the US intends to take this into account because other countries have shown that they can attack these assets.

NASA chief told CBS News in an interview last month: “Our very way of life is dependent on space. If we lose the GPS signals, there are no interbank transfers, and no food in the stores among other things, which is why hostile countries around the world are taking steps to harm US capabilities.”

Some argue that the formation of a space force is time-consuming and requires a huge effort. Some political observers have also warned that a space force could trigger an arms race in outer space. Critics believe that many of the assigned missions are already being carried out by the other branches of the US military, and that a “space force” is unnecessary and too costly.

Former US Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has claimed that few or no one in the Pentagon wants President Trump’s Space Force. “None of them are in favor of a Space Force, I say none of the top leaders, but they’re stuck.”

She also said that close to 35,000 people are already working in the US Air Force and formation of a new military wing could be disruptive.

Since Democrats in the US Congress also do not support Trump’s plan, formation of a US space force may also face a legal barrier. For example, Senator Brian Emanuel Schatz has called establishment of US Space Force a stupid idea and predicted that it would never be realized.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has also criticized the plan saying, “Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending more billions to militarize outer space.”

Farid Karimi writes in Zoomit:  “The United States now has more than 800 satellites in total, but while the US Army will not need any new satellites, it cannot form a space force overnight.  The formation should be approved by the Congress, just as the US Air Force separated from the Army long ago with Congressional approval.

A new weapons market

In addition to the US, Russia, and China, many other states such as India, Iran and Japan have been operating in space and have launched satellites. No doubt they will also try to improve their defenses against their enemies in space. This will ignite a weapons race and a new weapons market.

The US, Russia and China are three of the world’s largest arms manufacturers and the world’s weapons market is in their hands. The formation of a new arms market puts more profits into the pockets of arms manufacturers.  That may be one reason for Trump’s insistence on the development of US space forces.

First published in our partner MNA

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Future of ISR Capabilities in South Asia



A number of problems faced by the inhabitants of the South Asian region include poverty, food scarcity, natural calamities, and mismanagement of the resources by the governments, corruption and so on and so forth. Cherry on the top is conflicting relationships regional nuclear neighbors leading to huge expenditures on military build-up. Thus, first priority of most of the regional states is to secure themselves from external and internal threats by spending of large sum of budget on military/ arms buildup.

The beginning of 21st century brought the information technology into play which changed the life as we know it. Developed world adopted this change much faster than the developing countries. However, because information technology eliminated the distances and was so cheap that even the developing states could not remain immune to it. Nonetheless, due to technological hurdles the journey is not as smooth as it was for developed countries.

It is a fact that every man-made technology has a flip side; same is the case with information technology. States started using the information technology for military purposes along with civilian purposes which blurs the lines of its use in peace time and war times. Previously information was just considered as integral component of warfare, but in present times information is the warfare.

States are flexing their muscles in technologies that help them to attain real time information on enemy to eliminate the element of surprise not only in war or crisis time but also in peace times. One significant technology which is making its mark to facilitate intelligence and information gathering is Unmanned Armed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also known as Drones.

Being a developing region, the focus of South Asian states should have been on the elimination of poverty and facilitation of basic facilities to its population. However, security concerns and threat perceptions forced states to invest in their militaries to ensure their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Security situation of this particular region is complex because two arch nuclear rivals that are neighbors are involved in continuous arms race.

Till last decade the focus of security concerns in South Asia were related to conventional and nuclear issues, but with the information warfare knocking at the door, the situation is gradually yet surely changing. With the evolution and amalgamation of new technologies into warfare, South Asian security situation is becoming more volatile and fragile. These difficulties are not arising because new technologies are coming into being but because of the myopia of states to restrain themselves to not use technology against each other.

Recent in South Asia reveals that information warfare which would involve cyber warfare, space weaponization and ISR technologies are making their way into South Asia. Both nuclear rivals do have the capabilities for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), which also include the technologies like drones and satellites.

These drones by both states were operated through existing ground control stations, which restricted the range, endurance and flexibility of these drones.  From military point of view drones control through ground based control station is a short coming. The same short coming acted as the much desired restraint on the use of technology in South Asia.

However, the recent chain of events reveal that drones will be used in South Asia by India through satellite control which will definitely boost the flexibility, range and endurance of the Indian Drones. India is all set to launch another satellite GSAT-7A which will be an advanced military communication satellite in geo-synchronous orbit; it would be especially designated to Indian Air Force.

India in its most recent Communication Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed with the US is trying to procure armed Sea Guardian Drone or Predator-B drone for effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Predator-B is not only capable of information gathering but can also fire “Hell Fire” missile and smart bombs. It is capable of flying at high altitude, with jamming proof systems like protected GPS, IFF (identification of friend or foe) receiver and has ability to re-arm as well.

Besides, Predator-B India is also in process to acquire missile armed Heron TP drones from Israel for $ 400 million dollars. Fleet of Harpy UAVs is also part of Indian inventory. Harpy is also technology acquired from Israel but is not equipped with missile. India has already shown the intention to create tri-services for space, cyber and innovative technologies in military to develop and use them more effectively in future.

To counter India in drone of UAVs technology Pakistan has also made its indigenous drone named Burraq, which is also capable of firing laser guided missile. Moreover, after the COMCASA and S-400 deal, Pakistan is buying 48 armed Chinese Drones, Wing Long II.

However, in face of growing competition in  ISR capabilities and Information warfare, at the moment Pakistan might also ventured into dual use remote sensing satellites and designated military satellites, to not only have real time intelligence but to increase the endurance and range of its drones as well.

Thus, in the light of current trends it would be safe to say that space, cyber and ISR technologies are becoming part of South Asian military environment. Acquiring armed ISR technology like drones reveals that currently both states are preparing themselves for modern and sub-conventional warfare. Moreover, continuity in conflicting relationship between both states will catalyze the competition in ISR technology and induce more lethality in it which would lead to more instability.

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Romania Militarizing the Black Sea Region



Romania’s policy in the Black Sea region is aimed at creating strategic prerequisites for Bucharest to achieve long-term regional leadership.

Russia is the only Black Sea country, which does not fit into the geopolitical landscape being built by Bucharest. It is a country with which Romania, as a member of the EU and NATO, is not bound by allied treaties. Therefore, Romania views Russia as an obstacle to its plans, and its policy is aimed at getting this hurdle out of the way.

Strengthening European security is part of the general context of containing Russia will dominate the agenda of Romania’s chairmanship of the European Council from January 2019.

Worried by the current imbalance between the northeast (Baltic region: Poland, Baltic states) and the southeast (Black Sea region: Romania) flanks of NATO, Romania will seek to offset this by beefing up NATO’s military presence at both ends of the arc of instability now being created.

Russia’s presence on the Black Sea is seen by Bucharest as a sign Moscow’s growing influence in the eastern Mediterranean region, which, simultaneously, is reducing the West’s sway over the region. Bucharest sees that as a long-term problem as a drop in the West’s influence in the Mediterranean will significantly undermine Romania’s own position in the Black Sea region.

Even though Russia’s military doctrine does not pose any deliberate threat to Romania, this still does not deter Bucharest from making anti-Russian moves. Amid the US’ and EU’s current tensions with Turkey, Bucharest has a theoretical chance to fill the emerging void in NATO’s military architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Bucharest is ready (and willing!) to assume some of the geopolitical functions previously assigned to Ankara to act as a regional vanguard in the confrontation with Russia on the Black Sea and increase its strategic significance for the United States and NATO.

The Black Sea region, which links Eurasia with North Africa and the Middle East, serves as a gateway to the Mediterranean, which in turn, is a corridor to the Atlantic and the ocean. Romanian politicians of the past viewed the Black Sea as a road to the Caspian via the Caucasus isthmus with access to Central Asia.

The Black Sea is Romania’s only waterway to the outside world that allows it to widen the boundaries of Romanian influence.

Romania’s geopolitical doctrine considers the Black Sea as a constituent element of Romanian national identity along with the Danube and  Dniester rivers, and of Romanians as a Black Sea nation. The political tradition of Romania views the Dniester as a natural cultural, political and geographical borderline that separates Europe from Russia-Eurasia, Romanians from Slavs and the Romanian geopolitical area from Russia. The Danube is considered as a vital artery and cradle of the Romanian people, connecting it with the Black Sea and Europe.

Therefore, Romania’s expansionism on the Black Sea is not a variable but a permanent aspect Bucharest’s foreign policy, along with two other constant vectors to Moldova and the Western Balkans. This three-tier construction constitutes the basis of the Romanian geopolitical consciousness, which, regrettably, is resulting in ill-advised foreign policy moves.

Guided, or rather misguided, by this erroneous policy, the Romanian elites have made all these three components of the Romanian national consciousness and cultural identity dependent on the ever-changing political situation in their relations with Russia.

It was exactly this policy that inevitably pushed bilateral relations on a downward path, since Russia is viewed in this context as something hostile and contrary to the  manifestations of Romanian identity in the world in a political-spatial and cultural-ideological dimension.

Romania spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense with the purchase of modern weapons accounting for a hefty 33 percent of the country’s military budget – more than in any other of NATO’s East European members. It looks like Romania’s chances of equaling Poland in terms of its strategic importance to NATO may soon increase given the country’s geographic closeness to Russia’s Crimea.

Bucharest and Warsaw have already signed an agreement on strategic partnership, and Poland’s “Three Seas” initiative and Bucharest’s “Great Romania” project geopolitically complement each other.

The idea underlying the coordinated action by Warsaw and Bucharest is to create an anti-Russian corridor extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, which is part of Poland’s plan to promote European cooperation along the North-South axis.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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