Exploring Morale in an Active Warzone: A Study of the Predictors of Morale During Deployment to Afghanistan
Soldiers’ morale is an important determinant for the success of military operations. However, the military morale literature lacks studies that rely on a theoretical background, use comparative data from pre-deployment periods, or specify the factors that affect morale during deployment. This article aims to provide a theoretically-informed analysis of aspects understood to influence the morale of Danish soldiers during deployment in an active warzone. We use an explorative approach to investigate the main determinants of morale in a deployed unit using the following eight factors: cohesion, esprit de corps, leadership, shared purpose/common goal, resilience, preparedness and training, discipline and working conditions. The theoretical background provided by van ‘t Wout and van Dyk provides a multidimensional focus on morale, focusing on cohesion, leadership, discipline, purpose, and work environment. The data were obtained from questionnaires given to the soldiers in the Danish battlegroup prior to and during deployment in the southern part of Afghanistan in 2007; 423 were included in the study. Our results indicate that leadership, cohesion and common purpose are the three most important determinants of forming the perception of morale.Published on 2021-12-29 12:08:32
Deployment of Light Infantry Under Air Mobility Doctrine – A Historical Study of Helicopter-deployed Light Infantry
Can the present learn from the past? Moreover, if so, what lessons can we learn?
The Danish Parliament instructed the Armed Forces to create a light infantry unit. What resulted is the Slesvig Regiment of Foot, designed to conduct operations using helicopters and/or navy vessels.
This article is an analysis of the lessons that can be learned from three historic cases using light infantry in an air mobile capacity and under an air mobility doctrine. The need for such an analysis comes from the fact that this is a new way of conducting military operations for the Danish Army.
The cases are the American insertion at Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam 1965, the Rhodesian Bush War 1974–1980 and the British Operation Palliser in Sierra Leone 2000; all three chosen because they illustrate similarities and differences that will give the analysis the broader perspective needed to provide suitable lessons for a future Danish concept of operations for the light infantry unit. All three cases have a doctrinal background that are applicable in a Danish context.
The article argues that there are a number of lessons to be learned, such as the adherence to an air mobile doctrine, command and control measures, the level of training, and the experience and mind-set of the commanders. The elements of surprise, fire support, aggression when needed, flexibility, communication and the units’ organization and equipment also provide valuable lessons.Published on 2021-12-27 13:33:53
Collective Command: Problems and Perspectives for Military Operational Leadership in the 21st Century
Anthony King’s Command: The Twenty-First-Century General claims to present a new perspective on command, in which a radical change of command from an “individualistic” to a “collective” practice has taken place since the 20th century. In this article, we critically assess two key ideas in King’s work, namely “collective command” and “complexity”. These are issues which are mirrored in contemporary collective leadership literature and complexity management discourse. We argue that this engagement with collective leadership and complexity has some unfortunate consequences for King’s assessment of military organization and how command practices have changed. The outset for our critique is what we perceive to be a “surreptitious slide” – namely a slide from analytical insights about the present and past to generalizations and prescriptions about the future of command and the organizational context in which it unfolds. The slide is reflected in a lack of specificity concerning what is and what ought to be. We suggest that scholars and practitioners attend to the diversity of actions within timeframes, specific situations, and contextual settings rather than evoke wishful thinking and legitimize specific visions of future realities. This would, among other things, shed light on how concrete issues of power, conflict, and tensions co-exist in divisional headquarters and beyond.Published on 2021-12-21 15:01:56
From 2002 to 2003, F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Royal Danish Air Force flew side by side in the hostile skies over Afghanistan. United under the wings of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF), a unique, trinational alliance, they represented their countries’ flying contribution to the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Each country deployed six F-16 fighter-bombers, together forming one squadron-sized detachment. In theory at least, the EPAF enabled the smaller European air forces to make a proportionally greater contribution to OEF than they could have done individually. By joining forces, the participating air forces made optimal use of their limited resources – a typical small powers strategy enacted by the three countries to overcome the structural limitations of their military capabilities in a long-standing allied arrangement. This article is a comparative study of the experiences gained concerning the cooperation between the three air forces and the interoperability of the EPAF detachment within the larger OEF coalition; its conclusion is that, although working within the trinational framework revealed differences on the political, military-operational, tactical-technical and personnel level, most of these problems were eventually overcome. All things considered, the EPAF did offer these smaller countries an instrument to demonstrate their solidarity with the United States and provide a significant contribution to the Global War on Terror, making it a prime “operational” example of effective small or middle power strategy to mitigate (combat) limitations in an asymmetrical multinational relationship vis-à-vis the United States.Published on 2021-11-15 11:33:02
Juggling Risks: Towards a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment for Pregnant Soldiers in the Danish Army
This article investigates the negative experience of pregnant soldiers. Drawing on seven interviews with female officers pregnant during their service in the Danish army, the article shows how, obliged to prioritise between the welfare of their unborn child and themselves on one hand and, on the other, the physically demanding performance of the military role model leading by example in the successful execution of their duties, these officers find it difficult reconciling the role of mother-to-be and the role of soldier. The pregnant body offers a challenge to the pregnant officer’s performance as a disciplined and physically able soldier, it is argued; this, in turn, challenges the pregnant officer’s social identity as soldier and leader. The article offers evidence that prevailing gender biases present difficulties for pregnant soldiers seeking to successfully navigate the demands of their work life. As leaders in the army seem to overlook these challenges, the two principal purposed of the article are as follows: First, to spell out the need to better support serving mothers-to-be through the enforcement of a pregnancy policy intented to secure a healthy work environment. Second, that if we are to secure equal opportunities for men and women in the armed forces, equity must be achieved through strategies of gender mainstreaming. However, a change in the work culture of the army is needed to make equity socially acceptable. These purposes will be supported by reference to the case study of pregnant soldiers.Published on 2021-10-25 10:16:11
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