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Policing: the unspoken element of irregular warfare

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

The recent wars in Iraq (2003-2011) and Afghanistan (2001-present) have revived the
study on irregular warfare within the wider debate on the changing character of warfare.
Moreover, the terrorist attacks carried out in Europe in (2015-2017) have urged a
reflection on the link between the ‘war on terror’ and the domestic security. The academic
discussion on these issues has overlooked policing as an element in irregular wars and
how its contribution is critical during these type of violent conflict. This thesis addresses
this gap in literature by conducting three historical analyses on Italian military history in
order to identify key characteristics of the role of police forces during irregular wars. This
study is grounded on archival research on military and police operations during:
Brigantaggio (1861-1870), The War of Resistance during World War II (1943-1945) and
the fight against the Red Brigades (1970-1982). The thread that unites these three case
studies is the operational history of the Arma dei Carabinieri, the Italian police force with
military status who has recently conducted stability operations in the Balkans, Iraq and
Afghanistan. This research shows how overlooked aspects of military history can
contribute to the current debate on irregular warfare and, by concentrating on gaining
influence and legitimacy over the population, policing is a critical factor in this type of
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Oct 2018

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