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Mercenaries and the state: how the hybridisation of the armed forces is changing the face of national security

Varin, Caroline (2012) Mercenaries and the state: how the hybridisation of the armed forces is changing the face of national security. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The military has been a symbol of nationhood and state control for the past two hundred years. As representatives of a society’s cultural values and political ambitions, the armed forces have traditionally been held within the confines of the modern state. Today, however, soldiers are expected to operate in the shadows of conflicts, drawing little attention to themselves and to their actions; they are physically and emotionally secluded from a civilian population whose governments, especially in the ‘West’, are proceeding to an unprecedented wave of demilitarisation and military budget cuts. Simultaneously, these same governments are increasingly opening their armies to foreign nationals and outsourcing military operations to private military and security companies. These experiments with the hybridisation of the armed forces have effectively changed the face of national security. This thesis explores the impact of hybridisation on the values, cohesion and effectiveness of the armed forces by comparing and contrasting the experiences of the French Foreign Legion, the private military companies in Angola, and the merging of private contractors and American troops in Iraq. Mercenaries have been used as a foreign policy tool to improve the strategic impact of national armies. As non-state actors, however, they are unaccountable to the hiring state and beyond the control of the military establishment. It is both timely and important to understand the experiences of soldiers and mercenaries fighting together in modern battlefields as this appears to be the trend for the future, and has a direct impact on civil-military relations, military effectiveness, and consequently on the overall security of the state. The study concludes that, although mercenaries and private security companies can contribute to the military effort and may be a useful foreign policy tool, the impact that these non-state actors have on the national army must be taken into consideration to avoid weakening the state’s armed forces. Furthermore, the differences between warriors of various nationalities and allegiances, and the difficulties in coordinating public-private partnerships in joint military operations undermine the legitimacy of the state – and by default its policies – by weakening the cohesiveness and morale of the national armed forces and by alienating the citizen iv and the soldier. Results can be used to inform national governments and the armed forces in their inevitable process of hybridising their troops with foreigners and private contractors in the quest to answer the budgetary and moral concerns of their country.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Caroline Varin
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Coker, Christopher

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