Combatant rank and socialization to norms of restraint : examining the Australian and Philippine armies
Andrew M. Bell, Fiona Terry
Host item entries:
International interactions, Vol. 47, no. 5, 2021, p. 825-854
Bibliography : p. 849-854
How does combatant rank influence the adoption of international humanitarian law (IHL) norms—or “norms of restraint”—within military organizations? To date, few political science studies have directly examined the impact of rank in influencing combatant socialization to norms of restraint. This study helps to fill this gap by examining combatant rank and the transmission and adoption of norms of restraint in military organizations. To do so, it conducts the first known comparative research study exploiting original survey and interview data from two state armed forces—the Australian Army and the Philippine Army. Research results show that under some conditions combatant rank can significantly influence the norm socialization process. Data further suggest that the adoption of such norms may be linked to the nature of command relationships within the military: the relative influence possessed by senior officers and junior enlisted members may affect the degree to which official norms are transmitted to enlisted combatants. Finally, data reveal the potentially problematic paradox of rank: the noncommissioned officers (NCOs) most influential for junior enlisted soldiers may themselves be more resistant to norms of restraint than senior officers operating at higher levels of command. Such data provide noteworthy new data enhancing our understanding of rank, military culture, and combatant socialization to norms of restraint.
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