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Danish Soldiers Narrate Civil-Military Interaction: Experience, Critique and "Identifying Best Practices"

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review

In the aftermath of military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western militaries have been grabbling not only with these – for many – ‘failed missions’, but also with how to deal with a contemporary moment of hybrid wars and ‘chronic crisis’ (Vigh 2008). While numerous political commissions have issued reports evaluating these military engagements (e.g. the Chilcot Report 42 in Britain), Western militaries have also evaluated their own performances –
sometimes cast in vocabularies of public administration as ‘best practices’, ‘lessons learned’, etc. The question arises, however, what characterizes a ‘best practice’, who defines it and how? Against the backdrop of management reports and the critique of political commissions, this paper hones in on the lived experience of Danish soldiers engaged in CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation) on the tactical and higher tactical levels in these past missions. Based on ongoing ethnographic fieldwork and extensive interviews as part of a larger research initiative ‘Perception and Legitimacy in CivilMilitary Interaction’, the paper excavates and discusses two selected cases on the basis of soldiers’ own experience and memory of what constitutes successful or failed practices. If we move beyond the constraints of both self-appraisal- and denial in official discourse and move to the level of ordinary experience of soldiers, is critique then possible? And how might we qualify that critique following the cues of recent anthropological and critical theory? By triangulating with other sources (field reports, media sources and others), the paper demonstrates how the discussion of these cases serves theoretically as a window into the tensions of
critique in the military as part of a world where critique has – in the words of
Bruno Latour (2004) – ‘run out of steam’.
StatusUdgivet - 2017
BegivenhedEuropean Research Group on Military and Society: Biannual Meeting 2017 - Athen, Grækenland
Varighed: 27 jun. 201730 jun. 2017


KonferenceEuropean Research Group on Military and Society

Bibliografisk note

Paper presented at ERGOMAS 2017


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