‘Shaping hearts and minds: Claret operations in Borneo, 1965-1966’

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For Western militaries, the choice between enemy-centric and population-centric approaches to unconventional warfare is really no choice at all. Contemporary counterinsurgency doctrines are clear on the decisive importance of hearts and minds in delivering success: in these conflicts, the population is the prize. As this article identifies, however, context may limit in important ways the relevance of many hearts and minds activities. Despite the scale of Commonwealth military success against Indonesia during Operation Claret in 1965–66, and despite the declared importance of hearts and mind activities in support of this success, the specific context that existed during the campaign limited the extent to which hearts and minds could exert a decisive impact. In particular, the limited nature of Commonwealth objectives, which did not seek to change the political ownership of the border area, meant that the local population could not, in the long term, be protected from the consequences of choosing to side with Commonwealth forces. Therefore, despite often being well disposed to Commonwealth troops, rational concerns for their own well-being limited the willingness of border villagers to provide overt help.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-827
Number of pages25
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number4
Early online date1 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Claret
  • Confrontation
  • Hearts and Minds
  • Cold War
  • Counterinsurgency


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