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FrontlineCombat and Cohesion in Twenty-First Century$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719663

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719663.001.0001

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Discipline and Punish

Discipline and Punish

Encouraging Combat Performance in the Citizen and Professional Army

(p.93) 5 Discipline and Punish

Anthony King

Oxford University Press

Although discipline is widely recognized as important to the armed forces, the threat of punishment in encouraging troops to fight has tended to be ignored or disparaged by scholars. This chapter explores the relative role which courts martial for cowardice have played in the citizen army of the twentieth century and today’s professional force. The chapter concludes that, unpalatable though it may be, harsh sanctions for cowardice probably did play a significant role in citizen armies. However, recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan show that while incidents of combat refusal have occurred, the professional force, with a single exception, has completely eschewed the court martial. Instead, the professional force has compensated for the absence of formal judicial proceedings with the institutionalization of informal sanctions against those who have deemed to fail. The chapter explores how informal mechanisms of shame and honour have been employed by professional soldiers to motivate each other.

Keywords:   courts martial, cowardice, punishment, combat refusal, shame, honour

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