Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations: Afghanistan and Lebanon

Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations: Afghanistan and Lebanon

Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations: Afghanistan and Lebanon

Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations: Afghanistan and Lebanon


As of September 2017, the United Nations alone deployed 110,000 uniformed personnel from 122 countries in fifteen peacekeeping operations worldwide. Soldiers in these missions are important actors who not only have considerable responsibility for implementing peace and stability operations but also have a concomitant influence on their goals and impact. Yet we know surprisingly little about the factors that prompt soldiers' behavior. Despite being deployed on the same mission under similar conditions, various national contingents display significant, systematic differences in their actions on the ground.

In Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations, Chiara Ruffa challenges the widely held assumption that military contingents, regardless of their origins, implement mandates in a similar manner. She argues instead that military culture--the set of attitudes, values, and beliefs instilled into an army and transmitted across generations of those in uniform --influences how soldiers behave at the tactical level. When soldiers are abroad, they are usually deployed as units, and when a military unit deploys, its military culture goes with it. By investigating where military culture comes from, Ruffa demonstrates why military units conduct themselves the way they do.

Between 2007 and 2014, Ruffa was embedded in French and Italian units deployed under comparable circumstances in two different kinds of peace and stability operations: the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Based on hundreds of interviews, she finds that while French units prioritized patrolling and the display of high levels of protection and force--such as body armor and weaponry--Italian units placed greater emphasis on delivering humanitarian aid. She concludes that civil-military relations and societal beliefs about the use of force in the units' home country have an impact on the military culture overseas, soldiers' perceptions and behavior, and, ultimately, consequences for their ability to keep the peace.


Fatma is from Bar-al Canoon, a small village in Southern Lebanon, where more than 18,000 soldiers are deployed under the United Nations flag. At the end of my first interview with her in 2007, she asked a striking question: “Why, Chiara, do we need all these soldiers to bring peace?”

While this book may not be able to answer Fatma’s seemingly simple but ultimately complex question, it does recognize the crucial role that military organizations play in international peace and stability operations, and tries to better understand the dynamics that influence military behavior on the ground. At the time of writing, more than 100,000 soldiers are deployed in un peacekeeping operations worldwide. Another 300,000 are deployed under the auspices of regional organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Soldiers in these missions are important actors, with significant responsibility for implementing peace and stability operations—and a corresponding influence on the goals and impact of peacekeeping missions. Yet we know surprisingly little about the factors that influence soldiers’ behavior. in an attempt to address this gap, this book examines the behavior of military organizations in peace and stability operations.

Soldiers deployed in multinational peace and stability operations are typically assigned to a specific area—called an Area of Operations (AO) or Area of Responsibility in military parlance—along with other soldiers from their country of origin. in their ao, soldiers are expected to implement a specific mandate to keep or enforce peace, in accordance with their rules of engagement (ROE). Usually, they are equipped with weapons. They may also have some responsibility for delivering humanitarian aid and maintaining control of their assigned territory. Their day-to-day tasks can vary widely, and could include, for example, conducting patrols, neutralizing improvised explosive devices, delivering humanitarian aid, organizing meetings with the village chief, launching programs to benefit vulnerable groups, and conducting . . .

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