Preparing capable Australian Defence Force personnel for peace operations: principles and foundations
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 21:08 authored by D. J. Schmidtchen
Since the end of the Cold War the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has increasingly provided support to peace operations conducted by, or with the sanction of, the United Nations (UN). The constabulary role peacekeepers are asked to perform on these operations appears to demand skills that are qualitatively different from those developed through conventional military training. ADF peacekeepers have been involved in operations to restore peace within, rather than between nations; they have been asked to deliver humanitarian aid; to provide a secure environment for the conduct of elections; and to restore the rule of law in areas lacking central civil order. This is a role that requires restraint in the use of force, impartiality in action, and resolution by mediation, skills that appear to be the anthesis of those required for war, and incongruent with conventional military preparation and training. -- As part of this study 41 ADF peacekeepers consented to be interviewed on their deployment experiences with the aim of examining and improving current human resource policy and practice in preparing military personnel for peace operations. The study evaluates the adequacy of current predeployment preparation and the broader competency based training philosophy underlying ADF training and education. -- The findings are explored in two contexts. First, peace operations require skills, knowledge and attitudes beyond those provided in conventional military training and education. Consistently, experienced peacekeepers highlighted the need for greater conceptual understanding of their role in a constabulary type operation. Moreover, they identified that there was an increased need for the 'soft' skills of advanced interpersonal interaction, to overcome obstacles in cross-cultural communication, leadership, negotiation, mediation and liaison. Second, the development of these skills requires an approach to training and education that is beyond competency. This study highlights that the competency based approach to preparing peacekeepers does not prepare them well for an environment that consistently presents them with unfamiliar problems in an unfamiliar context. The utility of a Capability Model (Stephenson, 1987, 1992) of performance is explored and developed to provide a method for understanding the skills required by individual peacekeepers. The concept of organisational capability is developed in this study as a model that can be used to prepare military personnel for peacetime and operational employment. -- The report recommends that for future practice the ADF adopts individual and organisational capability as an organising concept in training and education that overcomes the traditional shortfalls of a competency based system. For further research, it is recommended that modifications to preparation content be guided by a systematic task analysis of peace operations. The consistency between the literature and this study suggests that this research could be conducted as an international collaboration project. Finally, it is recommended that future researchers consider the qualitative approach adopted in this study as a means of providing greater research depth and texture, while continuing to meet the scientific quality standards of objectivity, reliability, validity, and utilisation.