Land Warfare Centre, 26 February 2020

By Hannah West

What is the point in research if you don’t share it? And where better to share it than around a table that brings together practitioners, PhD scholars and established academics. I was lucky enough to be part of the second COIN Forum hosted by the Warfare Branch at the Land Warfare Centre, Warminster this week. Part knowledge exchange, part networking opportunity, I am hopeful we have a burgeoning research community that will foster encouragement and collaboration.

Two new PhD scholars opened with an overview of their research. I felt extremely lucky that both had such crossover with my own research that I was avidly glued to their every word and had numerous things to follow up with them about afterwards. Jemma Humphries asked how British Army organisational culture impacts on how personnel think about and enact cultural awareness during COIN operations. She shared how a sense of exceptionalism and competition has created an ‘us and them’ dynamic. Ryan Clarke then talked about NGO involvement in strategic resettlement during the Zimbabwean Liberation War 1972-1980 and their role in the history of strategic resettlement.

This was followed by an opportunity for other PhD scholars to share an update on their research. I started by explaining what my analysis of the Malaya campaign, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan is revealing about how we understand combat and the front-line. Martijn van der Vorm explored counterinsurgency experiences from ISAF Regional Command South from an organisational learning perspective sharing his intended case studies of the Netherlands, UK, Canada and Australia. Dr Alex Waterman then updated us on his research project, ‘Dancing with Devils: Comparing counterinsurgents’ integration of rebel and militia knowledge into doctrine’ explaining the challenges of access to specialist COIN communities and their doctrine. You can find out more about his project at Sorina Toltica discussed the challenges of preparing for fieldwork in Nigeria from ethics to access to conduct interviews to explore UK and US remote warfare strategy.

In the afternoon we were extremely fortunate to be joined by Maj General Qamar Retd of the Pakistani Army who shared Pakistan’s experience of COIN and the story of Swat emphasising the importance of getting to know the people. We are extremely grateful for the contribution of Dr Ed Stoddard and Dr Huw Bennett whose experience brought so much to the debate. We want to thank the Stabilisation Team at Warfare Branch, Land Warfare Centre for hosting us and organinising the logistics. We can’t wait for the next forum in early September. If you research counterinsurgency and are interested in finding out more about the COIN Forum then do get in touch ([email protected]).