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Mental strategies for fighting the IS: A field study of the Peshmerga soldiers in Northern Iraq
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
2016 (English)In: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, ISSN 1057-610X, E-ISSN 1521-0731, Vol. 39, no 11, 1007-1018 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study analyzes the war against the Islamic State (IS), specifically on the front in northern Iraq, and the mental strategies that the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers use to maintain their combat motivation. For this field study, dozens of soldiers of various ranks were interviewed and observed on three fronts outside of Mosul, Erbil, and Kirkuk in February 2014. While some mental strategies are nearly universal, others depend on the characteristics of the fighting force and the threat that they face. The article identifies five distinct mental strategies for dealing with the stress of fighting the IS: simultaneous dehumanization and humanization of the enemy, seeing a larger cause, use of humor, religious identity, and martyrdom. The findings suggest that factors beyond primary group cohesion, on which much previous research has focused, can play an important role in increasing soldiers’ fighting power.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 39, no 11, 1007-1018 p.
Keyword [en]
IS, Islamic State, Mental Strategies, War, Fighting Power
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-29658DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2016.1154750ISI: XYZScopusID: 2-s2.0-84961675694OAI: diva2:914940
Available from: 2016-03-28 Created: 2016-03-28 Last updated: 2016-09-22Bibliographically approved

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