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“Imagining War and Keeping Peace?” by Dr Chiara Ruffa

  • Seminar Room G Manor Road Building OX1 3UQ (map)

A light sandwich lunch is provided for seminar participants at 12:50. 

“Imagining War and Keeping Peace?” investigates military organizations in peace and stability operations. The departure point for this book is the observation that different national contingents deployed in peace and stability operations under similar conditions display significant and systematic differences in the way they operate on the ground, specifically, in the way they conduct patrols and carry out force protection, and the way that they interact with the local population and local military forces. Dr. Ruffa empirically documents these tactical level variations, which she has termed ‘force employment’, and she categorizes how different armies behave by using a concept derived from the literature on military effectiveness, which she calls ‘Unit Peace Operation Effectiveness’. The core objective of the book is to answer the question: what influences variations in soldiers’ tactical behavior? Based on empirical evidence, she proposes that a key, often overlooked, factor influencing behavior is military culture: a set of deeply ingrained attitudes, values, and beliefs, which are internalized among members of a given military organization. Military culture helps to explain why soldiers behave differently within the margins of maneuver left at their discretion in peace and stability operations. It frames the set of conceivable options for soldiers and provides them with reference points that guide behavior, such as how to perceive and understand the enemy, and interpret the surrounding context. Military culture helps to fill the margins of maneuver that exist on the ground. To further analyze the military culture concept, the book also considers how military cultures arise, finding that they are nested into the specific domestic political configurations of the armies’ respective countries. This means that a military culture, with well-defined traits, emerges under specific domestic conditions, usually following a critical juncture. She hypothesizes that military culture may acquire new salient traits or renegotiate old ones providing them with new meanings to respond to new domestic conditions. The book’s empirical evidence is drawn from four in-depth comparative case studies, French and Italian units deployed under similar circumstances in two very different kinds of peace and stability operations: the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL II) and the NATO mission in Afghanistan (ISAF). The evidence was collected during fieldwork undertaken in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Rome, and Paris between 2007 and 2014. The sources of evidence used are in-depth interviews, surveys, field observation, and secondary sources.

Chiara Ruffa (Ph.D. 2010) is a senior lecturer at the Swedish Defense University and a research associate at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. Her main research interests are peace operations, civil-military relations and the sociology of the military. Ruffa has a book in press with Pennsylvania University Press and has published in, among others, Security Studies, Armed Forces and Society, Security and Defence Analysis, Small Wars and Insurgencies.