Accepted paper:

New to Peacekeeping, Not to Combat: Sierra Leone's Experiences on AMISOM


Maggie Dwyer (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation examines Sierra Leone’s first major involvement in peacekeeping since the end of its own civil war. Using interviews with soldiers, military leadership and advisors, the research explores the impacts of peacekeeping, both on individuals and on the broader development of militaries.

Paper long abstract:

In 2013, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) deployed to Somalia as part of AMISOM. The mission was highly significant for Sierra Leone as it was the first large-scale deployment the country had conducted since the end of its own civil war in 2002. While the RSLAF's involvement in AMISOM has been praised as successful, both within Sierra Leone and internationally, there were also major challenges with the mission. In particular, the protracted Ebola crisis caused the battalion to extend their time in Somalia by almost a year, leading to increased stress and disciplinary issues. Using interviews with the Sierra Leonean peacekeepers, the presentation provides the rank and file perspective. This view from the lower ranks is often neglected but vital to comprehending the ground level tensions that can challenge peacekeeping efforts. Although new to peacekeeping, most of the soldiers were not new to combat. The research shows the ways that the peacekeepers often contextualized their time in Somalia against the backdrop of their experiences in the Sierra Leone civil war. The findings extend beyond the battlefield and will also look at how peacekeeping affected soldiers' lives upon their return home. The ground level perspective will be supplemented with the view from military leadership, including interviews with officers, international advisors, and top commanders in the RSLAF. Through these multiple vantage points, the research explores the various impacts of peacekeeping on the troop contributing countries, both on individual soldiers and on the broader development of militaries in Africa.

panel P050
A bottom-up perspective on military intervention in fragile states