Organising for Counterinsurgency: The Adaptation of British and German Military Doctrine in Afghanistan

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This article maps and explains differentiation in the development of the stabilisation and counterinsurgency doctrines of the British and German militaries during deployment in Afghanistan. In doing so the study analyses the neglected issue of the organisational capabilities of the British and German militaries to develop and apply military doctrine that is appropriate to the exigencies of the contemporary operational environment. Drawing upon documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews, the study uncovers new empirical material on the institutional reforms which have been undertaken to strengthen the adaptability of doctrine and its application in operations. It finds that while the British military’s organisational capabilities were characterised by deficits at the tactical level between 2006 and 2009, recent years have seen significant improvement. In contrast, the organisational capabilities of the German military remain stunted. The study’s empirical findings have important implications for theories of military change. While the article identifies international structure as the main independent variable driving doctrinal adaptability, it finds that domestic variables exogenous to the military form the dominant intervening factor determining the development of effective organisational capabilities. The article argues that neoclassical realism provides strongest analytical leverage in understanding the factors determining the capacity of militaries to adapt doctrine to the operational environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-58
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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