Multinational troops are increas- ingly deployed to areas of recent internal conflict characterized by multi-ethnic violence, paramilitary regimes and autocratic state leadership. The closeness of those troops to the local populations pre- sents interesting implications for contem- porary peacekeeping training programs and the development of military doctrine, in warfighting, peace enforcement and peacekeeping environments. In most cases, regional paramilitary forces and warlords garner local support by convinc- ing indigenous populations that their alle- giance will be rewarded with the provision of individual security and protection. Such is particularly the case when state security structures have collapsed or are controlled by the extended security hierarchy of a cor- rupt leader. In these circumstances, build- ing confidence among the local groups and swaying their support away from the destructive regimes becomes a priority for the intervention forces. The success of the multinational forces in redirecting this allegiance depends largely on whether or not the force is perceived as a credible security provider. For this reason, a careful bal- ance must be preserved between main- taining a robust posture and interfacing within the local population to strengthen confidence-building measures.
This article represents part of a much larger study that explains how differences in national military approaches observed in Haiti and Bosnia impacted the overall credibility of the multinational forces and their mandates. It discusses causes behind some of these differences and sur- veys the measures in place at the interna- tional level intended to overcome them. Due to Canada’s significant contribution to UN-led, regional organization-led and “coalition-of-the willing”-led multina- tional peacekeeping and peace enforce- ment interventions, the role of the Cana- dian Forces (CF) is the focus of this article. It also examines how political decisions taken in Ottawa have affected the perfor- mance of the CF on the ground and dis- cusses measures that may be imple- mented to restore the local perception of the CF’s position as a front-line peace- keeping partner.
Multinational military interventions that promote sustainable and enduring peacebuilding measures have become increasingly challenged due to the complex environments and the many different players that are brought into these theatres. The reality of contemporary conflict environments is such that members of the local population, who themselves remain the only agent for sustainable and peaceful change, are now able to view the behavioural conduct and operational effective- ness of the peacekeeping forces due to the close proximity in which they operate. A common method used by warlords, nonstate actors and paramilitary regimes in garnering the support of local communities is to offer security guarantees in exchange for their support. As a result, the main task for the international community in respond- ing to these conflicts involves determining the basis for local support and seeking to redirect the population’s allegiance toward the interventionist forces by demonstrating the provision of credible security. Research has indicated that disparate national approaches observed in recent multina- tional peace support operations have had an adverse effect on the way in which the interna- tional military forces are perceived, due to a fail- ure to build sufficient confidence measures at the grass roots level of society.
These situations test the professionalism of the military ground forces and their application of doctrine. However, troops serving in a multina- tional theatre of operations are often deployed under the strategic requirements and tactical pro- cedures of regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as under the more global auspices of the United Nations (UN), the world’s largest inter-governmental multilateral organiza- tion. The “organizational” approach to pre-deploy- ment planning, therefore, does not always corre- spond directly with national doctrine. Additionally, where there is a direct correlation between the organizational and the national approach, the interpretation of the same set of rules and procedures can be completely different. This results in a disunity of effort on the ground, an increasingly blurred local perception toward the international effort, and a prolonged conflict.
Such factors are now considered of primary importance as calls from Canada and her allies increase for enhanced military interoperability. Much of the discussion on interoperability has focused on Canada-US defence relations. In the past decade, however, Canadian Forces (CF) have operated with a number of other countries in var- ious peace support operations, especially in the former Yugoslavia. Canadian defence policy still maintains that the CF must be prepared for such operations in the future.
This paper will discuss the relationship between local populations and multinational military forces and examine the importance of this relationship in, what could be described as, “third generational con- flict theatres.”1 It will then discuss some national dis- parities observed in Bosnia and Haiti and seek expla- nations behind these differences at the international, national and in-theatre levels. Lastly, the paper will discuss recent initiatives aimed at minimizing the differences and the impact this should have on national defence policy and military leadership at all levels.
Much has been written on the “new” security environment and the growing complexity of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. While these emergencies are not a new phenomenon, they have become an important subject area for acade- mics and practitioners due to the increased ten- dency of the international community to respond. Military forces are no longer deployed along bor- ders or demarcation zones that separate antago- nistic states. Instead, they are expected to perform activities in the midst of these animosities such as patrolling dangerous areas, observing human rights violations, protecting military compounds and international headquarters, rebuilding local infrastructures and assisting in the delivery and administration of humanitarian aid.
In the recent past, international military forces have been labelled as being “passive spectators” and accused of “turning their backs” on the atroci- ties and human rights violations committed by the warring factions in these environments. The charges have often evolved due not to the fault of the individual soldier but to the national and inter- national political forces that control their behav- iour in the field. In order to deploy troops to these regions, and search for a peaceful settlement to the conflict, the UN normally develops a mandate that falls within the UN’s Chapter 6 operations. Chap- ter 6 refers to the section of the UN Charter that endorses military deployments that uphold the principles of consent, impartiality and the non- use of force except in the case of self-defence.2
The issue of consent is fairly straightforward. In March 1995, the re-installed Haitian government gave the UN permission to station international military forces in various areas on the Caribbean island to help maintain security and stability. The intervention force was called the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) and was authorized by the UN Security Council under a Chapter 6 peacekeeping mandate. The troops would be impartial to all indi- viduals and groups and pledged to maintain a sta- ble and secure environment in which the demo- cratic Haitian government could be reinstalled. Lastly, the troops were permitted to use life-threat- ening force only in self-defence, and only in a graduated and measured way that ensured mini- mum collateral damage.
These principles and procedures have applied to many other interventions, as far back as the 1956 UN Emergency Force (UNEF) deployed to the Sinai, the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFCYP), which is still stationed there today, the 1992 UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia, the 1993 UN Pre- ventative Deployment (UNPREDEP) in Macedo- nia and the ongoing UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). These types of operations are most appropriate for the issues discussed in this paper due to the restrictions imposed on the troops and the tasks they are expected to perform.
Chapter 6 mandates are most common during the earlier and latter stages of a conflict. If a con- flict or humanitarian emergency deteriorates to the extent that more robust military action is required, a new mandate is often issued under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of force.3 The ratification process behind approving the more robust UN mandate has proven difficult in the past, particularly if it trig- gers sensitivities for certain UN Security Council members who have the ability to exercise a veto. Such a scenario prevailed during early talks on the deployment of military troops to Kosovo, and the subsequent decision for the OSCE to lead due to the dual veto exercised by both China and Russia.4 Alternatively, the entire operation can be taken over by a “coalition of the willing” or a unilateral single-nation intervention. The American- and British-led “coalition of the willing” in the 1990 Gulf War and the 1994 US-led Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti serve as respective examples of these arrangements. Thus, it is possible to catego- rize contemporary conflict interventions into the following three types: a UN-sanctioned/UN-led operation, a UN-sanctioned operation led by a regional organization, or a UN-sanctioned inter- vention led by an “executive agent” or a small “coalition of the willing.” The American-led coali- tion, which launched airstrikes on Taliban mili- tary strongholds in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, underlines more recent utility of “coalition warfare.” This action drew on American-led rules of engagement and would be classified as the employment of air power to deter an aggressive threat under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.5
When security and stability returns and humanitarian activity resumes, a new UN man- date that upholds the same Chapter 6 principles underwrites the new phase of operations. Inter- national troops are expected to perform a more integral role within the local society and assist in peace-rebuilding programs, security sector reform and democratic development. The forceful and more robust approaches featured in the earlier Chapter 7 mandates are no longer used, except in the case of self-defence. In some cases, the military forces retreat to carrying out a support function only, in an effort to give primacy to a newly devel- oped security force and to re-empower local civil authority. Such was the case for the UN Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), which succeeded UNMIH in 1996. A similar “single nation” parallel can be drawn with the British Army’s ongoing intervention in Northern Ireland, where soldiers provide background support to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
It is during these transitional stages in multi- national peacekeeping environments when the local population either redirects its allegiance to the international community (represented by international military forces and humanitarian groups) or remains loyal to the individuals and groups behind the initial demise of the country. The latter occurs when conflict populations are not convinced that the international forces can provide them with security at the individual level. This encourages them to turn to their fac- tional group leaders (or their own stakeholder group during the conflict) for reassurance. Local warlords, nonstate actors and paramilitary groups are aware of this phenomenon and have used it to garner support and entice young recruits and child soldiers.
On the other hand, the international forces can work hard to build the trust and confidence nec- essary for the local residents to believe in their efforts and support their programs. Over time, the loosening of ties with the paramilitaries and fac- tional leaders encourages steps toward reconcilia- tion and helps remove the bitterness. Achieving such an environmental transformation and changed mindset is necessary before interna- tional funds are spent on infrastructural recon- struction and societal rebuilding. Convincing each individual person that his or her own secu- rity is no longer at risk is paramount to a long- term solution.
There are many practical initiatives that can help to foster trust and credibility and remove the deeply rooted fear that helped sustain the status quo ante. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to acknowledge all possible initiatives, recom- mendations that address this problem from a mil- itary doctrinal and leadership perspective will be explored. The problem is examined in the context of research carried out in Haiti during the third UN mandate, and during the 1996 Stabilization Force (SFOR) deployment in Bosnia. Both cases involve the participation of the CF, as well as many NATO and UN allies with whom Canada will con- tinue to serve in the future. The choice of cases also reflects the contemporary nature of conflict, which includes a spectrum of activities ranging from low-intensity warfighting to more tranquil peacebuilding tasks.
The research used to support the argu- ments in this paper formed part of a doctoral dissertation that examined the disparities of multinational land forces in peace support operations. The study covered the multinational interventions in Haiti (1994-1996), Bosnia (1996, 1998 and 1999), Somalia (1997) and Northern Ireland (1999), the latter of which was used to explore whether or not parallels existed between the multinational research findings and a single-nation intervention. Research was under- taken in each country using rural and urban sam- ple sets to increase the reliability of the data. For example, in Haiti, the urban area of Port-au-Prince and the rural areas in and around Cap Haitian were used. Similarly, in Northern Ireland, the urban area of West Belfast and the rural area of South Armagh were used. The case of Bosnia proved more challenging as, to maintain reliabil- ity and achieve accurate analyses, representation from many different rural areas was used to com- plement the research findings from the multi- ethnic region in and around Sarajevo. The same was true in the urban region of Mogadishu, Soma- lia, and the various tribal clans represented in the rural districts.
The data gathering, simulation and interpreta- tion phases of this work employed a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research meth- ods. Due to the nature of the problem, and the extreme shortage of statistics in an already under- developed area, a qualitative model based on inter- pretive quality perspectives dominated.6 The main- stay of the data gathering involved numerous interviews with local representatives, all of whom were asked the same questions but who were also given room to elaborate on points which they clearly felt strongly about and make observations that were directly related to some of the incidents that the author was investigating. Each national sample set was made up of the following propor- tions of respondents: at least 35 percent from indi- viduals between the ages of 18-35; at least 40 percent from individuals between the ages of 35-50; and at least 20 percent from people in the 50+ age bracket. These proportions were applied equally to each of the different ethnic factions represented in the areas researched. The total number of people in the different sample sets varied, but remained consis- tent in relation to the population density of each area. The author also augmented the research with some quantitative research methods in order to monitor reliability7 and ward off claims that the research relied too heavily on anecdotal comment.
Following the analysis of the research, the author returned to each region for validation and evaluation purposes. Using smaller, but wholly representative sample sets, a validation question- naire8 was used, which summarized the interim research findings. Individuals completing the questionnaires were asked to indicate on a scale of five gradients whether they strongly agreed or strongly disagreed with the findings. The ques- tionnaires left room for additional comments, which were also incorporated into the research to enhance clarity.
The research methodology used was effective in penetrating the mindset of the conflict commu- nities and discovering how the behaviour and per- formance of different national militaries affected their overall impressions of the multinational force and the role it would play in determining their future. These issues are important within the wider interoperability debate for the following reasons:
The next few sections will explore some of the background detail and research findings from the Haiti and Bosnia case studies. While the involve- ment of the CF will remain the focus of this paper, it is important to remember that the broader study encompassed an in-depth view of twelve other nations, both NATO and non-NATO.
Haiti has suffered from civil unrest, government corruption and oppres- sive leadership for years. The circumstances of its birth as an independent state bestowed four potentially destructive legacies on Haitian society: The passing of power to the local Creole aristocracy, the precipitous and brutal changes of leadership that became a model for future Haitian governments, the violent tactics of Haiti’s founding leaders and the use of Voodoo and, finally, the protracted wars of independence that destroyed the island’s flourishing plantation economy.
The oppression of the Creole population by the Mulatto elite was challenged many times by renowned leaders like Toussaint Louverture, François Duvalier and his son who succeeded him, Jean-Claude Duvalier. However, this only created a black elitist regime, which continued to subject the majority of Haitian people to the same oppres- sive, impoverished and difficult life to which they had become accustomed. Each regime, along with their extended “families,” controlled the few legit- imate and illicit sources of economic wealth, polit- ical control and a powerful security apparatus that shared the riches.9
This kleptocratic nature of governance survived until the end of the Duvalier legacy in 1986, and through a series of similar regimes and bloody coups that lasted for four years.10 In December 1990, the Roman Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was sworn in as President by free and fair elections.11 A coup d’état led by senior military offi- cials and the capital city’s chief of police removed him from power six months later.12 Following US- led efforts to broker an agreement for the return of President Aristide, and the military regime’s refusal to implement the terms of the agreement, a UN-sanctioned, US-led force mandated under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter was sent in to restore peace.
The mandate of the operation authorized the US force to use whatever means necessary to return President Aristide in accordance with the Gover- nor’s Island Agreement.13 On March 31, 1995, the force was replaced by the UN Mission in Haiti, a multinational peacekeeping force acting under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter. The force was tasked with maintaining a secure and stable environ- ment, assisting in the training of a new national police force, and facilitating a free and fair elec- toral process.14 In 1996 the force was downsized and renamed the UN Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) and was supported primarily by Cana- dian and Pakistani peacekeeping battalions, a French gendarmerie contingent and others partic- ipating in a UN Civilian Police Force (UNCIVPOL). A small group of US Army logisticians also pro- vided support and was stationed at an airport com- pound. Its task was to assist in the professional- ization of the national police force and in the maintenance of a secure and stable environment.
The events which preceded the deployment of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia had slight similarities to the international arrangements in Haiti, but came with complexities that were rem- iniscent of a region made up of about seven dif- ferent ethnic factions, some of whom were fight- ing against themselves, and with conflict raging throughout the country (for different reasons depending on where one lived). In addition, the ambiguous political system that continued to change as the Yugoslav federation fell apart posed huge legal challenges to members of the interna- tional community who were poised to intervene. Threatened Serb minority populations in Croatia and subsequent fighting along Croatia’s border with Bosnia resulted in the deployment of a Chap- ter 6 peacekeeping force tasked with monitoring the designated UN protected areas that contained those populations.15
The independent recognition of both Croatia and Slovenia encouraged more violence. By this time, similar problems had spread in and around the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo where all three eth- nic groups were co-located. In the spring of 1992, the UN responded to a plea from Bosnian Presi- dent Alija Izetbegovic and sent in a UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to facilitate the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid.16 Once again, the UN force served under a Chapter 6 traditional peacekeeping mandate and was expected to uphold certain rules of engagement and princi- ples associated with the mandate.
As the fighting in the former Yugoslavia spread and the situation deteriorated, combined with sev- eral failed attempts at brokering a diplomatic solu- tion, measures were increased to bring in NATO involvement and with it, a more robust mandate.17 The deployment of the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) in the fall of 1995 seriously weakened the position of the factional fighters,18 which encouraged the factional leaders to seek diplo- matic dialogue. They were eventually brought to the negotiating table where they signed on to the US-brokered Dayton Peace Accords.19
NATO, under IFOR, lasted for one year and was replaced by the Stabilization Force (SFOR), which is still there today. There are three area commands, all of which answer to a central command in Sara- jevo.20 While SFOR represents a UN-sanctioned NATO-led force subject to the authority of the NATO commanders, it is still deployed in a peacekeep- ing/peacebuilding capacity and is therefore expected to carry out the rebuilding and reinte- gration role inherent in post-conflict operations.
Research was carried out during the UNSMIH deployment to examine whether or not different national military conduct and behaviour impacted the local population’s impression of the UN Force. Interviews were conducted on the streets, in residential neighbourhoods, restaurants and cafes, prisons, municipal offices at the local police stations, in the more rural areas, and in the aid agency and military compounds. Views were gathered from the local inhabitants and interna- tional personnel assisting in all phases of the oper- ation. Although this information was collected during the UNSMIH deployment in the spring of 1996, feedback on national military troops also included those who participated in earlier phases of the intervention.
Feedback on the American troops was divided according to time periods: during the earlier Chapter 7 operation that authorized the use of force, and the later support role the American forces contributed to the UN force. People gener- ally felt that the American military was the right force to bring in during the earlier days of the con- flict, as a lightly-armed peacekeeping force would not have deterred the violence, crime and politi- cal unrest. This was particularly the case for the people interviewed in Port-au-Prince where the worst violence was erupting.
In the northern city of Cap Haitian, the Amer- ican response to a particularly violent firefight with the paramilitary group Force Armée d’Haiti (FAD’H) resulted in increased support for the international force. The incident saw American warning shots to deter a gang member from shoot- ing a pro-Aristide demonstrator outside the Cap- Hatian police station answered with direct fire toward the American troops. In response, the Americans shot and killed ten of the paramili- taries. The response to the incident strengthened support for the Americans in particular for at least two reasons.
First, it demonstrated to young potential para- military recruits that similar behaviour would not be tolerated and showed the disincentives of sub- scribing to the cause.
Second, residents of Cap Haitian commented on the renewed confidence instilled by the Amer- ican action, which led to the reopening of local businesses that had been continually looted by the paramilitaries. For the majority of people in Haiti, any extra income besides state allowances was usu- ally made from market stalls in the city and town centres, thus, the American performance had brought hope that the markets could function once again. One former mayor even suggested that the robust, resolute approach proved to many people that the American’s current involvement in Haiti was different from the nation-building tac- tics used between 1915 and 1934 that had gener- ated so much resentment toward the US.21
After the arrival of other national troops con- tributors and the official handover of command from the US to the UN, local groups were able to observe the behaviour of several different military forces and remark on the way they were manag- ing the transformed peacekeeping/peacebuilding environment. Local Haitians living around Port- au-Prince grew to resent the American military forces for their insistence on using dedicated mil- itary vehicles (and not the open-sided UN trucks used by the other national battalions). Moreover, the locals questioned the need for the tall heavily- manned guard towers that the American forces had constructed at each of their sites, and the requirement to travel in groups of no less than eight with heavy military vehicles wherever they went. This approach during a more peaceful envi- ronment had a compelling psychological impact on the Haitian population and enhanced the understanding of the UN presence.
The Pakistani battalion, which had been deployed since the transition to the UN force in 1994, had seemingly developed a good rapport with the local groups. Many of those interviewed commented on the Pakistanis’ determined look, the positioning of their guns and their attentive- ness during patrolling activities, which made the Haitians believe that the Pakistanis were very much aware and in control of the situation. Their ability to combine this structured approach with constant interaction with people, whether it was helping someone push a wheelbarrow down the street or building a soccer field for the children in a bad neighbourhood, built tremendous support for the Pakistani battalion in Haiti. People acknowledged that this more than made up for their inability to communicate in the local lan- guage. If any violence broke out, the majority of people interviewed were convinced that the Pak- istanis would resist any aggression and protect the population.
At a conference held in 1996, one British acad- emic and former war defence correspondent described the Canadian approach to peace support operations as “enormously generous” but relying more on the use of “soft tactics” shaped by peace- keeping policy approaches similar to those of the Dutch and Scandinavians.22 Recent debacles in Rwanda, Somalia and internal problems within the Canadian National Defence Headquarters have, in the recent past, put enormous pressure on the individual serving soldiers and have subjected them to rigid procedures that have, according to Canadian soldiers and their allied partners, restricted their operational freedom. The contin- uous need for the Canadian Forces to be seen as militarily “clean” and “politically correct” due to these past experiences has caused the average sol- dier to feel more limited in using traditional robust approaches. Thus, for the sake of satisfying a public and government back home that seem ill- informed about current operational require- ments, the reputation of the Canadian land forces as credible security providers has been compro- mised. The point here is that this is not due to the individual level of competence or professionalism brought into theatre by each soldier, but to the dis- couraging ethos that has been built by Canadian politicians who repeatedly fail to see the role these individual men and women play in defending Canadian national interests — at home and abroad — and support them appropriately.
In Haiti, shortly after the transition to the UN- led operation in 1995, Canada was forced to mod- ify its interpretation of the UN rules of engagement (ROEs) in order to protect a group of Canadian hydro workers who had been commercially con- tracted to restore electricity to the capital city of Port-au-Prince.23 When a warehouse they were working in came under paramilitary fire, Cana- dian troops had to request permission from the highest authorities to use force to deter the attack. The existing Canadian ROEs only permitted the troops to use force “in the case of self-defence” due to Canada’s insistence on the removal of “…and in defence of property” from the same clause prior to deployment of troops. Had Canada agreed to the original UN text, the ROEs during this incident would have been clear and the Canadian troops would have had the freedom to deter the attack from wherever they stood. The only counterattack that their initial ROEs would have permitted would have been for the troops to position themselves in between the paramilitaries and the hydro com- pound in order to use force “in the case of self defence” — clearly not an option in these violent circumstances. The ROEs were later modified to include the use of force in the case of self defence “and also in defence of the mandate,” which could justify the protection of the Canadian civilians. Most countries already use this text despite the Canadian belief that ambiguity in determining what would and would not threaten the mandate may result in unnecessary violence.24
The restrictions on the Canadians were obvious even to the local inhabitants. When people described the Canadian’s approach to patrolling and escorting, they remarked that they did not appear to be in control as much as the Pakistani troops. In addition, feedback also suggested that the troops tended not to hold their guns at the ready position like their Pakistani colleagues. There was also a perception that the Canadian sol- diers tended to avoid the more turbulent areas of the city where needy reconstruction projects required their assistance. Reports on their failure to defuse and control several street riots and stu- dent protests also highlighted the constraints under which they had to operate.
Almost all of the respondents appreciated the kindness shown by the Canadian military forces and the ease of communication through French cultural and linguistic affinities. Many respon- dents also commented on the friendliness of the Canadians and their consistency in smiling and waving to the local inhabitants. Nevertheless, in the case of heightened security measures, only 12 percent of the 147 local respondents interviewed in the city of Port-au-Prince stated that the confi- dence they had in the Canadians as credible secu- rity providers was quite low.25
Similar themes were noted from the research findings in Bosnia. Local Muslim, Serb and Croat residents were interviewed in and around Sara- jevo, the Bihac region of southwest Bosnia, Mostar, Banja Luka, Prijedor and in the Central Bosnian corridor of Drvar, Jajce, Gornji Vakuf and Bogojno. Canadians had served in many of these regions during different phases of the UN and NATO inter- ventions in the former Yugoslav Republic.
Several Canadian soldiers recalled a well- known incident that occurred on April 1998 in the central Bosnian town of Drvar. During the repa- triation of Serb groups to the now Croat-domi- nated town, the Croat residents of the area rebelled and ignited riots on the streets. The reactions of many Canadians were described as being “con- fused” and “fearful.” This apparently became more evident when many of the troops jumped back into their SFOR trucks in the hope that the prob- lems would die down. Perhaps these reactions also reflected the fact that, at that time, Canadian land force doctrine did not include crowd or riot con- trol. British troops arrived shortly after in armoured vehicles and secured the area. Many Croats and a significant number of the repatriated Serbs said that, at the time, they were very happy to see the arrival of the British troops.
A number of Canadians interviewed concluded, fairly or otherwise, that, although it would have been in the ROEs to shoot, the political ramifica- tions back home in Canada made them resist.26
Other more senior onlookers also acknowledged that the ROEs were such that the troops could have fired, but that the response would not have reflected the Canadian approach to these inci- dents.27 The recommendations of a more senior officer were to always threaten areas with future military presence as opposed to immediate robust reactions. As such, immediately following that incident, local authorities were instructed that any further incidents would result in an indefinite deployment of SFOR troops in the town. Appar- ently, since that statement was issued, no further problems in the area were reported. However, feed- back from the local residents indicated that the belated but robust intervention of the British sol- diers had served to deter any further incidents.
Serbs in most areas did not warm to the Amer- ican ground troops due to several reasons. When diplomatic efforts reached an impasse during the UN deployment in 1993, the American support for the “lift and strike” option caused some degree of resentment. Moreover, in various press releases and official statements, visiting US officials rarely acknowledged the problems caused by the Muslim and Croat populations in Bosnia. This was partic- ularly the case when the Serbs received strong con- demnation by the US in the February 1994 mortar incident in the Sarajevo market despite the fact that incident reports analyzing the projection and impact of the firing weakened the argument that the Serbs bore any responsibility.28
Most military personnel living and serving in Bosnia were aware of the “heavy” approach used by the Americans when serving on the ground. In the context of the more recent American inter- vention in Kosovo, Professor Lawrence Freedman offers the following thoughts on the American obsession with force protection:
As a US Army brigade moved into Kosovo as part of the force that intended to bring calm into the country after the war, its mission statement listed as its first priority “self-pro- tection” with the “peacekeeping tasks” sec- ondary. While the troops of US allies inter- mingled with the local population, US troops stayed in a guarded and well appointed com- pound, separated from the society that they were supposed to help calm.29
In Bosnia, inquiries into the travel plans of American troops at checkpoint stops were often met with soldiers jumping out of heavily armed military vehicles in order to guard the delegated spokesperson while he or she dealt with the fac- tional representatives. This top-heavy approach, particularly during the SFOR mandate that focused on peacebuilding and reconciliation, was viewed as unnecessary and served only to raise anxieties among the ill-informed and aggravate others. As in Haiti, the troops never travelled in groups of less than eight people with a minimum of two armoured personnel carriers.
Local residents believed that the Americans had little interest in speaking and interacting with them. They believed that the troops felt indiffer- ent toward understanding the local situation and lacked the capacity to think laterally and beyond their own cultural beliefs. Following the August 1997 shooting of the Bosnian Serb paramilitary Simo Drljacha by British Special Forces,30 demon- strations were mounted in front of the SFOR Civil- Military Centre (CIMIC) in Prijedor which, at that time, was being manned by American officers. The CIMIC had been set up earlier that year to serve as an information centre for locals and a place where they could speak to ground troops about various SFOR programs and initiatives. After this incident, the Americans on duty at the CIMIC refused to speak to the locals or make efforts to defuse the situation, which generated even more hostility. Soon after the incident, they were replaced by a group of Czech officers.
Bosnian Muslims living in the Bihac region recalled an incident that further underscored the Americans’ reluctance toward understanding local dynamics. A number of American soldiers had been tasked with distributing IFOR newslet- ters (a peacebuilding tool used to improve com- munications and understanding) in the area of Bos Krupa. The newsletters were translated in slightly different dialects and emphasized slightly different issues, depending on whether the target audience was Serb, Muslim or Croat. Both the interpreters and a substantial number of local res- idents realized that little care was being taken toward the distribution of the material. This indif- ferent and detached attitude, which was exhibited on many occasions, undermined ethnic sensitivi- ties and did not help the Americans gain respect and credibility in a very ethnically mixed region.
Another incident in 1995 in the Bosnian town of Doboj also illustrates the same top-heavy Amer- ican approach that tainted the Haitians’ view of the American forces during the peacekeeping and peacebuilding stages of that conflict. A group of Muslims had been given permission by Danish and British troops to cross a bridge to visit a ceme- tery (in the newly proclaimed “Serb” side of town) where relatives had been buried. Riots broke out and Serbs began chasing Muslims, throwing stones and physically beating them. As the British and Danish troops fired warning shots into the air, their efforts were overshadowed by the sudden appearance of American gunships, with blades tilted downward in order to spray stones and objects into the air in an “overkill” effort to move back the crowd. Several Danish and British officers who witnessed the incident suggested that alter- native, more graduated levels of force could have been used to prevent further threats and violence.31 Many of the local residents who were interviewed felt that the use of gunships had sent a very pow- erful message to the factional militant groups in terms of consolidating more resources and heav- ier equipment. Other individuals felt that the Americans were trying to use “scare tactics” to increase compliance in the area.
Due to the broad range of national troops con- tributors that served in Bosnia between 1995-99, the local populations identified several other national tendencies that affected their perception of the international effort. The behaviour of the Bangladeshi and Malaysian soldiers toward the Bosnian women and the significant time they spent in local bars and restaurants had affected IFOR’s reputation in both Sarajevo and Bihac. In the more southern area of Mostar, while the locals warmed to the Italian and Spanish troops, they worried about their ability to offer sufficient protection in the case where fighting re-ignited between the Croat and Muslim factions in the area. Residents in and around Sarajevo and Mount Igman felt very strongly toward the French Foreign Legion’s “over the top” approach to “spraying bullets in response to a tree branch breaking in the wind.”32
The results proved that certain categories of military “professionalism,” perceived from the local perspective, were observed in Bosnia. On one end of the scale were troops described as “net users” as opposed to “net contributors” of security. These included the Malaysian, Jordanian, Bangladeshi and Ukrainian troops. To a certain extent, the Russians were also grouped in this cat- egory, despite their potential to take strategic advantage of their historical alliance with the Serb factions. The national contingents described above were considered a liability to the multina- tional effort, particularly in many instances where impartiality, credibility and professional- ism were often compromised. This suggests that differences in approaches to ROEs and thus, effec- tiveness, are more the result of which forces the countries come from rather than a lack of com- mon training. While common training programs would, without question, help bridge the gaps, the cultural ethos that shapes a national military’s interpretation and leadership approaches toward a common doctrine and ROEs are central to achieving a more unified response.
Grouped in the next category were troops like the Spanish, the Dutch and the Canadians. These groups were known to practice softer and less robust soldiering, which, to the locals, would not be effective during periods of heavy violence. In addition, the local perception was that these troops lacked the operational freedom necessary to offer adequate protection if tensions between the ethnic factions resurfaced. On a more socio- behavioural point, the locals generally felt that these troops kept a certain “distance” from the local groups and did not engage themselves in the local environment as much as they could have. Adjectives such as “withdrawn” and “detached” were used several times to describe the approach of these groups to patrolling.
However, it should be noted that recent discus- sions with personnel from the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)33 suggested that the Canadian contribu- tion in the Canton 10 region of central Bosnia has made notable progress in the past few years in terms of interfacing with the local community, coordinating with other civilian agencies and assisting in the peacebuilding strategies. Admit- tedly, the threat in Bosnia has diminished and social and economic rebuilding in multiethnic areas is now the priority. Perhaps a move away from the ambiguity inherent in volatile Chapter 61
Abbott, Elizabeth. Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy. Lon- don: Robert Hale, 1988.
Bass, Warren. “The Triage of Dayton.” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 77, issue 5 (Sept/Oct 1998): 95-109.
Bellamy, Christopher. “Knights in White Armour.” Presented at Defence-Development-Disaster: Security Imperatives in the New Millennium, Prague, November 7-8, 1996.
——. “NATO Takes Step into the Unknown.” Times (London), December 21, 1995, p. 8.
Canadian Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Discus- sion with the author, New York. May 7, 1996.
Coleman, Christopher. Discussion with the author, New York. May 16, 2001.
Department of National Defence. Shaping the Future of Cana- dian Defence: A Strategy for 2020. Ottawa: Ministry of Pub- lic Works and Government Services, 1999.
Eggleton, Art. “Speaking Notes for the Honourable Art Eggle- ton, Minister of National Defence To the Toronto Board of Trade.” Ottawa: Department of National Defence. Available: https://www.dnd.ca/eng/archive/speeches/ 2001/dec01/14dec01trade_s_e.htm
Evans, Michael. “Eyes in Sky will Back Unarmed Peace Terms.” Times (London), October 14, 1998, p. 13.
——. “NATO Jets Take on a Reconnaissance Role Over Bosnia.” Times (London), April 16, 1993a, p. 1.
——.“UN and NATO plan joint attack role in Bosnia.” Times (London), August 7, 1993b, p. 1.
Freedman, Lawrence. “The Third World War?” Survival, Vol. 43, no. 4 (Winter 2001-2002): 61-88.
Hillen, John and Bill Nash. “Can Soldiers be Peacekeepers and Warriors?” NATO Review, Vol. 49, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 16-20.
Iqbal, J. Discussion with the author, New York. September 5, 1999.
Khan, Jehangir. Adviser, UN Department of Political Affairs. Discussion with the author, New York. May 17, 2001.
Mackinlay, John. “Improving Multinational Forces.” Survival, Vol. 36, no. 3 (Autumn 1994): 149-173.
Mackinlay, John and Jarat Chopra, eds. A Draft Concept of Sec- ond Generational Multinational Operations. Providence, RI: Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, 1993.
MacLean, Douglas. Discussion with the author, Bosnia. May 10, 1999.
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Riley, Jon. Discussion with the author. November 2000/May 2001.
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Smith, Nick. Discussion with the author, Osnabruck, Germany. February 1, 2002.
Traynor, Ian. “Muslims seek UN protection.” Guardian (Man- chester), March 28, 1992, p. 13.
United Nations. Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. New York: United Nations, Department of Public Information, Article 45, Reprint DPI/511-93243, 1994.
For Immediate Distribution –Thursday, August 1, 2002
Montreal – New IRPP Study Advocates more Multinational Training, Interagency Coordination, Joint Doctrine Development and Enhanced Clarity Between Canada’s Government and Soldiers in the Field. Divergent national approaches observed in recent multinational peace operations have had a negative effect on how international forces, including Canadians, are perceived. And this risks local groups losing confidence in the international effort, which could make them vulnerable once again to the forces that ignited the conflict. “Once this happens, the prospect of a sustainable peace becomes more uncertain and the task of the interventionists becomes increasingly difficult,” says Professor Ann M. Fitz-Gerald in a study released today by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
The study, entitled “Multinational Land Force Interoperability: Meeting the Challenge of Different Cultural Backgrounds in Chapter VI Peace Support Operations,” examines the realities and uncertainties of current conflict landscapes and the challenges posed to military interventionist forces deployed to these areas.
The author, a Canadian Associate Professor at the Department of Defence Management and Security Analysis of Cranfield University (United Kingdom), focuses on the need to gain the trust and co-operation of local populations, something that can only be done by providing credible security. However, Fitz-Gerald’s research indicates that “disparate national approaches observed in recent multinational peace support operations have had an adverse effect on the way in which the international military forces are perceived, due to a failure to build sufficient confidence measures at the grass roots level of society.”
Fitz-Gerald says that “the continuous need for the Canadian Forces to be seen as militarily ‘clean’ and ‘politically correct’ due to past events [Rwanda, Somalia and some past internal controversies within the National Defence Headquarters] has caused the average soldier to feel more limited in using traditional robust approaches. Thus, for the sake of satisfying a public and government back home that seem ill-informed about current operational requirements, the reputation of the Canadian land forces as credible security providers has been compromised.”
When talking about the local response to Canadian troops during the UN-led operation in Haiti, Fitz-Gerald says: “The restrictions on the Canadians were obvious even to the local inhabitants. When people described the Canadian’s approach to patrolling and escorting, they remarked that they did not appear to be in control as much as the Pakistani troops.”
Similar observations came from Bosnians, where Spanish, Dutch and Canadian troops “were known to practice softer and less robust soldiering, which, to the locals, would not be effective during periods of heavy violence. In addition, the local perception was that these troops lacked the operational freedom necessary to offer adequate protection if tensions between the ethnic factions resurfaced.”
“It is essential that future policies on multinational and bilateral interoperability consider the more operational and tactical requirements that are essential for improving cohesion and unity of effort on the ground,” the author concludes. These requirements can only be met through more multinational training, interagency coordination and joint doctrine development, as well as enhanced clarity between Canada’s political masters and the soldiers on the ground.
“Multinational Land Force Interoperability: Meeting the Challenge of Different Cultural Backgrounds in Chapter VI Peace Support Operations,” is the latest Choices study to be published in the IRPP’s National Security and Interoperability series. It is now available in Adobe (.pdf) format on the IRPP website at https://www.irpp.org – to access the document, simply click on the “What’s New” icon on the homepage.
Other studies in this research program include “The Canadian Forces and the Doctrine of Interoperability: The Issues,” “Canada and Military Coalitions: Where, How and With Whom?” and “Sailing in Concert: The Politics and Strategy of Canada-US Naval Interoperability.” The studies can be found free of charge on the IRPP website.
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For more information, or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact the IRPP. To receive IRPP media advisories and news releases via e-mail, please subscribe to the IRPP e-distribution service by visiting the newsroom on the IRPP website.
Founded in 1972, the IRPP is an independent, national, non-profit organization whose mission is to improve public policy in Canada by generating research, providing insight and sparking debate that will contribute to the public policy decision-making process and strengthen the quality of the public policy decisions made by Canadian governments, citizens, institutions and organizations.