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War as nothing but a duel: war as an institution and the construction of the Western military profession

Abstract

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.

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Perception of specific military skills – the impact of perfectionism and self-efficacy

Abstract

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.

Open access
Organizational challenges and leaders’ coping strategies: a qualitative study of Swedish military staff organization

Abstract

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.

Open access
Predictors of Gaming Behavior among Military Peacekeepers – Exploring the Role of Boredom and Loneliness in Relation to Gaming Problems

Abstract

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.

Open access
Bayesian belief network for assessing impact of factors on army’s lean–agile replenishment system

Abstract

A dynamic time-separated lean–agile spare part replenishment system can prove beneficial to the army by being efficient (cost saving) during peace and effective (assured availability) during war. The logistics echelons must have certain attributes in order to implement such a dynamic replenishment system. The purpose of this article is to identify the factors/attributes that are necessary in a spare part replenishment system of vehicles and weapon platforms in order to implement a time-separated lean–agile strategy through a systematic literature review. Furthermore, the article will investigate the impact of these factors/attributes, individually and collectively, on overall system performance. This will enable logistics managers to focus only on the factors that have greater impact on the system. A model explaining the effects of various contributory factors/attributes on the overall logistics system has been developed through a comprehensive literature review, experts’ judgments and inputs from practising logisticians in the military field. The article then models the system using a Bayesian belief network (BBN) on Netica software. After the development of the model using Netica, a sensitivity analysis based on the mutual information criterion is conducted to identify the critical factors that most significantly affect a dynamic lean–agile spare part replenishment system. The study addresses the identified need of applying BBN to model an uncertain and complex military logistics domain.

Open access
Examining the relationship between personality, organizational political skill and perceived team performance in a multinational military staff exercise context

Abstract

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.

Open access
Meaning and inconsistencies of meaning – exploring the perspectives of Norwegian veterans in Afghanistan

Abstract

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.

Open access
Measuring military university Students’ motivational goals in the domain of physical exercise

Abstract

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.

Open access