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Title: A century of child soldiers : a critical review of their impact on land forces
Author: Callaway, Anthony Leonard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 5799
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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As of today, it is estimated that there are approximately 300,000 children serving as part of regular armed forces, terrorist or armed groups in a variety of roles across the globe. The term child is here defined as a person under the age of 18 years. In recent years Western forces have had occasion to engage such persons. It has been forcefully argued that children having regard to their preponderance and utility, particularly when coupled with the development and miniaturisation of modern weaponry are uniquely adapted to the modern battlefield and insurgent roles. Whilst there is nothing new in the deployment of young people in warfare and combat roles, and which has a very long historical pedigree, it has been suggested that the very fact that a child is utilised to engage regular forces represents the very antithesis of what a soldier represents; particularly when considered from a Western perspective. In other words a ‘child soldier’ does not fit the cognitive framework of regular troops: their training, legal structures and ethical and cultural values. This thesis is an attempt to consider the extent to which Western regular forces regard their combat roles when called upon to engage children, and in particular, the extent, if at all, their combat efficiency is influenced as a consequence. The UK, US and Israel are the subject of consideration by means of targeted questionnaires directed to military personnel who have either engaged children or undergone training in this regard. By this approach it is intended to discover whether the fact of child engagement had any or any appreciable influence upon the manner in which such soldiers regarded the military contract upon which they may have been engaged or have been trained to apply. In addition to considering the approach of the modern soldier, part of the field work involved examination of current training regimes carried out by a two-day visit to the International Land Warfare Centre, Warminster where the themes of this thesis were examined and additionally by a further series of targeted interviews of senior officers responsible for the design of training programmes. In order to extend the data base and to provide a historical context, the experience of UK service personnel in the Second World War was made the subject of examination with particular reference to individual engagements with members of the Hitler Youth during the latter stages of that conflict. This required examination of the oral archive at the Imperial War Museum, London. The conclusion that was reached and which was in some ways counter-intuitive, was that notwithstanding the fact that soldiers did regard children as those in need of protection and nurturing, perhaps as a consequence of their education, cultural factors and common humanity, when deployed on the battlefield, however that is defined, a child is considered just as much a threat as any other enemy and is engaged accordingly.
Supervisor: Jones, Hilary Edgar ; Greenberg, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available