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  • 1.
    Käihkö, Ilmari
    Swedish Defence University, Department of War Studies and Military History, Strategy Division.
    ‘Once a combatant, always a combatant’? Revisiting assumptions about Liberian former combatant networks2022In: Journal of Modern African Studies, ISSN 0022-278X, E-ISSN 1469-7777, Vol. 60, no 1, p. 23-43Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Building on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this article draws from military sociology to revisit past portrayals of Liberian former combatant networks and assesses four central assumptions connected to them: that formal wartime command structures continue as informal networks long after the end of the war; that former combatants are united by a wartime identity and form a community to an extent separated from the surrounding society; that wartime experiences have had a major disciplining effect on former combatants; and that former combatants are both good mobilisers and easy to mobilise in elections and armed conflict alike. Finding limited evidence close to two decades after the end of war to support these assumptions, I ultimately ask whether it would be more productive to both theory and Liberians alike to widen investigation from former combatants to structural issues that affect many more in the country.

  • 2.
    Utas, Mats
    et al.
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Strategy Section.
    Jörgel, Magnus
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Strategy Section.
    The West Side Boys: military navigation in the Sierra Leone civil war2008In: Journal of Modern African Studies, ISSN 0022-278X, E-ISSN 1469-7777, Vol. 46, no 3, p. 487-511Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The West Side Boys were one of several military actors in the Sierra Leonean civil war (1991–2002). A splinter group of the army, the WSB emerged as a key player in 1999–2000. In most Western media accounts, the WSB appeared as nothing more than renegade, anarchistic bandits, devoid of any trace of long-term goals. By contrast, this article aims to explain how the WSB used well-devised military techniques in the field; how their history and military training within the Sierra Leone army shaped their notion of themselves and their view of what they were trying to accomplish; and, finally, how military commanders and politicians employed the WSB as a tactical instrument in a larger map of military and political strategies. It is in the politics of a military economy that this article is grounded.

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