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The word of command: communication and cohesion in the military
Armed Forces & Society
Military sociologists have attempted to explain how military institutions develop and maintain high levels of social cohesion. They have focused primarily on how the personal and intimate social interactions between soldiers produce bonds of comradeship. This comradeship is taken as the basis of social cohesion. Although sustainable, there is an unfortunate bias in the work of military sociologists. They focus almost exclusively on informal rituals in which personal bonds are forged. In fact, the decisive rituals that bind military groups together are the formal processes of training. Drawing on ethnographic analysis of the British armed forces and the Royal Marines, in particular, this article attempts to redress the balance. It examines the drills—above all, the communication drills—that British troops are collectively trained to perform and claims that these constitute the key social rituals for the British military. On the basis of this analysis, an alternative account of comradeship is proposed
© 2006 by Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society.