Like all repetitive human interaction, even war has been institutionalized and fought according to conventions and norms. Historically, this institutionalization is apparent from the way war has been compared to the duel, first in the 14th century and most famously by Carl von Clausewitz 5 centuries later. This article continues this train of thought and argues that the observed limits of Western “professional orthodoxy” and “strategic vocabulary” can be traced to how war has been institutionalized by the military profession. This offers an alternative explanation to the prevailing views of why the West has struggled in contemporary wars: it is the fundamental mismatch between these professional norms in the West and those held by their opponents that forms the biggest asymmetry in contemporary war. As this asymmetry is unlikely to disappear, these professional norms need to be reconsidered: just like the aristocracy with the duel by the late 19th century, the Western military profession appears stuck in an institution that is increasingly becoming obsolete. Without such reconsideration, the attainment of decision – the central strategic objective in war – and hence victory in future wars will remain uncertain.
Helga Myrseth, Sigurd William Hystad, Reidar Säfvenbom and Olav Kjellevold Olsen
We investigated the development of specific military skills in Norwegian cadets during the three-year military academy training as well as the impact of perfectionism and self-efficacy on the development of these skills. Latent growth-curve models were performed with perfectionism as a time-invariant predictor and with self-efficacy as a time-varying predictor. There were significant increases in the Individual Coping Capacity (ICC) and Cooperation in Difficult Situations (CDS) subscales but not in the Motivation to Achievement (MA) subscale. The initial skill levels were not related to the growth of the skills. Both adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism predicted initial values of ICC and CDS, explaining 5% of the variance in the initial ICC levels and 12% of the variance in the initial CDS levels. Perfectionism variables did not explain the development of the three types of military skills over time. Moreover, self-efficacy significantly predicted ICC at all time points and CDS and MA at all time points except at T3. We therefore concluded that cadets with high adaptive perfectionism scores are likely to have higher initial skill levels and that self-efficacious cadets are expected to show a greater development of military skills during military academy training.
Aida Alvinius, Alicia Ohlsson and Gerry Larsson
Numerous societal change processes such as globalization, professionalization and social and technical acceleration have challenged military organizations. The aims of this study were to (1) gain a deeper understanding of coping strategies used by the military leaders at the strategic level to manage everyday organizational demands and (2) relate these strategies to multidisciplinary models of organizational challenges. Owing to an insufficiently developed base of research, an inductive approach was used. Interviews were performed with 23 Swedish brigadier generals and colonels. Five coping strategies were found for handling the negative organizational aspects: repair work, catching up, reproducing, using formal and informal strategies and managing loyalties. The theoretical concepts of narcissistic, anorectic and greedy organizations were used as a framework when interpreting the inductively generated coping strategies. It was suggested that the specific connection found between individual-level coping strategies and theoretically framed organizational challenges is new. The results of this study are discussed theoretically and may be valuable in educational settings when evaluating the working conditions and performance of high-level officers.
Helga Myrseth, Olav Kjellevold Olsen, Einar Kristian Borud and Leif Åge Strand
The aim of the current study was to explore gaming problems in post-deployment veterans and to investigate whether boredom and loneliness can predict levels of gaming problems. The general well-being of veterans post their deployments to war zones is linked to an array of negative health consequences, and veterans may be at risk for developing gaming problems after homecomings. Problems that may be related to engagement in gaming include coping with negative emotions, such as boredom and loneliness, which are often faced by homecoming veterans as well. The sample in this study comprised Afghanistan veterans (N = 246), with a mean age of 37.5 years (standard deviation = 9.6 years), and 8.8% of the veterans showed symptoms indicative of problem gaming. This is not higher than that found in the general adult population in Norway. Logistic regression analyses showed that boredom proneness (lack of internal stimulation) and enhancement motivation were independent significant predictors of gaming problems, after controlling for age, gender, coping motivation, social motivation, anxiety, depression, loneliness, lack of external stimulation, hazardous drinking, and combat exposure. These factors accounted for as much as 65.8% of the variance in gaming problem status. We conclude that veterans who are highly motivated by enhancement motives and score low on lack of internal stimulation may be prone to developing gaming problems.
Ricardo G. Lugo, Stefan Sütterlin, Benjamin J. Knox, Øyvind Jøsok, Kirsi Helkala and Natalie Marie Lande
The rapid technical progress in cyber threats and cyber security poses increased cognitive demands on cyber officers. The macrocognitive demand characteristics placed on the cyber officers exceed those in most common military contexts and are new in nature. Research on decision-making competence within the cyber domain is needed to identify strategies and give a better understanding of how these strategies can have consequences depending on task characteristics. Belief in one’s capabilities to handle a certain task has been shown to be a key factor for cognitive performance. This study investigated how high self-efficacy negatively moderated intuitive decision-making tendencies on performance when facing a problem that required counterintuitive strategies.
Twenty-seven cyber officer cadets from the Norwegian Defence Cyber Academy participated in an experiment assessing self-efficacy, interoceptive sensitivity, and decision-making. Participants with high situational self-efficacy generally performed better, but this relationship was moderated by interoceptive sensitivity.
The findings suggest potential detrimental effects of intuitive decision-making tendencies in combination with high self-efficacy. Implications for training and feedback structures in cyber defense are discussed.
The aim of this study was to test whether the existing achievement goal orientation instrument could be modified to measure goal endorsement in recreational physical training. The participants were 139 second-year students at the Finnish National Defense University. The orientations were assessed using a modified questionnaire that included four orientations: mastery-intrinsic orientation (focus on learning new things and developing competence), mastery-extrinsic orientation (focus on learning and mastery but with extrinsic criteria such as grades), performance-approach orientation (focus on outperforming others) and performance-avoidance orientation (focus on avoiding judgments of incompetence). Based on the exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, factor structures were compared. The comparison of psychometric results of different models supported the four-dimensional instrument. The participants mostly strived for personal development of fitness, as well as good results. They also emphasized social comparison to some extent but had very little concerns of failure or appearing inferior.
Roger Lien, Kristian Firing, Mons Bendixen and Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair
This qualitative study explores the meaning-making process of veterans to address the positive aspects of military service in international operations. Thirteen veterans from a Force Protection Unit in Norway were interviewed about their deployment to Afghanistan. A thematic analysis revealed three main themes reflecting meaningful aspects of the service. “Confirmation of ability” refers to finding meaning by coping with stressful situations and being recognized for it. “Cohesion of peers” refers to finding meaning by belonging to a team and giving mutual support within the team, such as backing up each other and caring. “Significance of effort” refers to finding meaning by seeing their efforts as a contribution, as well as by receiving recognition and gaining status for their efforts. The analysis also revealed accompanying themes of inconsistencies, which in turn activated different coping strategies. The findings have been substantiated through a functional exposition of meaning: purpose, value, efficacy, and self-worth, as advocated by Baumeister (1991), and are discussed in the context of previous research and a theoretical concept of meaning making. Steps for future research are proposed.
Alicia Ohlsson, Erik Hedlund and Gerry Larsson
Military staffs are composed of many smaller teams that are interdependent upon each other for a positive functioning level of the whole staff. Many factors can improve or harm the harmony of the staff. Recently, there has been an increased interest in the soft factors that may affect team performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the Big Five personality dimensions, political skill and perceived team performance in a multinational staff training event. The sample included 185 military staff officers (49% response rate). The results indicated that the personality dimension Emotional stability and Political skill had a limited, yet statistically significant, predictive power on team performance. Practical considerations and future research directions are suggested.