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TriggerHappy, Autonomous, and Disobedient: Nordbat and Mission Command in Bosnia (thestrategybridge.org)
70 points by joostdevries on Sept 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



Sending in peacekeepers who cannot shoot back is absurd. It's political cowardice at it's worst. We really need to figure out this world governance thing and how to effectively rebuild rogue nation states. I'm not sure what that looks like, but probably not the UN.


After the Iraq fiasco I think a little humility should be in order. Grand schemes for "world governance" have a tendency to go wrong, and it's hard to come up with a definition of "rogue" that doesn't include too many countries.

The limitations on the peacekeepers were part of the broader context of trying not to simply invade the place and trigger conflict with Russia (e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/18/world/us-clashes-with-russ... ), a pattern which continues today in Syria.


It really is, why even bother sending them? Even if the directive was to break contact when fired on, you can't safely do that without firing back! It's just absurd, and unnecessarily dangerous for the soldiers on the ground.


"Then they [the Croatian militants] issued an ultimatum: hand over the three Muslim nurses, and we will leave you alone."

Quite nauseating to think that this happened in Europe in the 90's.

Edit: even more nauseating to go on vacation there and realize that the people who did this are no different from yourself. This could happen anywhere.


Indeed. This is partly why people are so sensitive about anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy in the West today. It's an alarmingly short slippery slope from "send them back" to "send them back and burn their houses" (e.g. Rohingya) to "just hand them over so we can murder them" to "send in the genocide squads", as in Srebrenica that was mentioned at the end of the article.


The tough part is to find the right balance between top down management that usually results in paralyzing micromanagment, preventing quick and dynamic reaction, and a possible loss of control over the single acting units turning into rogue actors.

As the article correctly states, this is an issue of trust, but trust can only be earned with experience, which is lacking in such a complex environment.


This trust is a result of intentional training towards enabling everyone down to private to know when to make a decision and when to bother chain of command. It's not only training of management, it's more like a culture.

I guess this post in part has some traction with hn because mission command seems like a wonderful management technique. Just let the people who knows best and have first hand information make efficient decisions, fast, right? But it actually takes good people and a lot of training to work in practice. On every level there has to be a "feeling" of what's reasonable. And management, in turn, must learn when to step back, and maybe more importantly not punish afterwards when equipped with hindsight.

(Served two years in swedish army, too young for Bosnia myself but couple of my officers were in nordbat2)


Everyone involved has to know the objective, which is a lot of more work than most people understand. Besides that I think that the selection and training for the BA0X where uniq for the swedish army who could pick from a large volunteer base.


"The culture of mission command in Sweden dates back to 1943, when senior Swedish army officers were taking note of the tactical superiority of German troops fighting Soviets on the Eastern Front."

Auftragstaktik: mission command - part of the German Army doctrine developed in the 19th C. TN DuPuy's Genius for War gives an excellent explanation.


Missing a dash between "trigger" and "happy" is bothering me more than it should. Reads like a new vulnerability name...

Please fix the title as it is "Trigger-Happy" in the original.


HN titles have an 80 character limit.

The dash doesn't fit.


Fair enough, but it's not only the dash, the actual title says "Nordbat 2". "Nordbat 1" was something different (albeit related of course).

It seems to me that punctuation shouldn't be taken into account to compute the character limit.


Remove the 2nd comma then, its useless.


I'm neither a mod nor the submitter. I can't do anything with titles.


This is precisely how i expect UN forces to behave. Bravo!




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