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Chapitre d'ouvrage

Historical Experience as an Intellectual Resource Fostering Operational Change: The German and British Armies in Afghanistan

Abstract : This contribution tries to explore some of the ways in which the British and German armies are using historical experiences within the process of operational adaptation in Afghanistan. The first insight is that for both armies, the use of historical references only played an insignificant role during the initial deployment preparation for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. However, having become aware of a lack of operational coherence on the ground in Helmand, the British Army has « rediscovered » the importance of applying some fundamental counterinsurgency principles through an analysis of the contemporary value of its colonial experience. This reading has contributed to make the British military approach more coherent and more focussed on protecting the population instead of pursuing the kinetic confrontation with the insurgents. In the case of the Bundeswehr, a thorough discussion of the historical experiences which have formed the basis of today’s counterinsurgency doctrines has been largely absent until today. Initially, the German military approach had been mainly dominated by the unconscious projection of the Balkans experience on Afghanistan. The operational reaction to the escalating violence in the Kunduz area was focussed on a hesitant introduction of kinetic means. Even today, the discussion among Bundeswehr officers concentrates on the necessity to perform in combat situations; however, the existing deficits in non-kinetic military activities are largely being ignored. In contrast, a thorough analysis of counterinsurgency experience could show that exactly these aspects play an essential role in any successful counterinsurgency strategy. In conclusion, the text aims at providing an interpretation which sees historical experience as an intellectual resource which can help to foster operational change beyond mere tactical adaptation.
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Chapitre d'ouvrage
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Soumis le : mardi 7 juillet 2020 - 15:22:41
Dernière modification le : samedi 4 septembre 2021 - 03:12:59


  • HAL Id : hal-02892472, version 1



Eric Sangar. Historical Experience as an Intellectual Resource Fostering Operational Change: The German and British Armies in Afghanistan. L’académie de la boue : Regards croisés sur l’apprentissage des forces armées, IRSEM, pp.26-39, 2012. ⟨hal-02892472⟩



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