Peacekeeping: New Ideas

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February 19, 2014:   There has been a lot more peacekeeping activity since the Cold War ended in 1991 and that has allowed more aid organizations to get in and help the victims of the many wars and civil disorders going on at any moment. This makes it possible to get a better sense of how many victims of the fighting exist. For example, in 2013 there were 172 million people who had their lives disrupted by these conflicts. Some three percent (5 million) were forced to flee to another country). Another ten percent (18 million) were forced out of their homes but remained inside their country. The majority (87 percent) suffered unemployment, reduced access to food, medical care, fuel and other necessities.

Such civilian victims are nothing new. As far back as records are available it was known that a common military tactic was to simply send an army into enemy territory and allow the troops to loot, burn and generally misbehave. This would weaken the enemy and forced the enemy army to come out and fight. For most of human history it was difficult to force an enemy army to fight a battle. For thousands of years a skilled commander could only force a foe to fight a battle (two opposing armies agreeing to stop moving around and take the considerable amount of time needed to form up for a fight) by taking information from scouts, spies in enemy territory and diplomats, and coming up with ways to move his army, and communicate with the enemy force, and others in the area, to convince the other force to stop and fight. The battle itself consisted of the commander, on a horse or in a chariot, and usually on a high piece of ground, looking at his force and the enemies. The commander had aides doing the same thing, and telling the boss anything they saw. Messengers brought information from subordinates. The commander took in all this, and ordered his contingents to advance, or re-position themselves.

Many of the peacekeeping situations these days consist of similarly primitive “armies” facing each other. Despite cell phones and the Internet these groups lack what the professionals would call “command and control.” These irregulars spend most of their time raiding civilians and are very difficult to “bring to battle.” The ancient tactics raiding tactics result in maximum discomfort for civilians and maximum profit for the elusive warriors. Peacekeepers have begun to take a more aggressive approach to the bad guys and bring in peacekeeper units trained and equipped to go after the armed rabble that is causing so much unhappiness for so many local civilians. Helicopters and UAVs make it easier to “bring the enemy to battle” and a few defeats usually persuades the foe to settle down, flee the area or simply cease to exist as an organized force of marauders.

 

 

 


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