Commanders as Negotiators: The Marine Corps and Marine Infantry Battalion Commanders in Helmand, Afghanistan 2008-2014
Baskin, Michael Sam.
Abstract: This dissertation examines the use of negotiation by U.S. Marine infantry battalion commanders deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan from 2008-2014. The study utilized an inductive approach with both historical and ethnographic methods to identify and explain a clear pattern in negotiations in armed conflict and inform negotiation theory. It built on interviews with over forty Marine... read moreinfantry battalion commanders who served in Helmand, and integrated additional primary and secondary sources. The study serves as a significant work in establishing U.S. Marine Corps history in Helmand province from 2008-2014. The study consists of nine chapters. In addition to the literature review and methodology chapters, the study includes a chapter on the formations of the U.S. Marine Corps as well as a chapter on the multiple factors that led to the entry and then expansion of U.S. Marine Corps forces into Helmand in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The next three chapters consist of Marine negotiations during three phases of operations including Clearing, Holding, and Transitioning. The study integrates an analytical framework of institutional factors, conflict analysis and stakeholders, negotiation role, and levers of influence across the three chapters. The final chapter integrates cross-phase analysis of each component of the analytical framework. By looking at one military organization (the U.S. Marine Corps) in one Afghan province (Helmand) over a multi-year period, the study finds that institutional factors that are outside the control of battalion commanders such as doctrine, command structures, organizational temperament, and recruiting practices, all heavily shape their use of negotiation throughout different phases of a conflict. Similarly, battalion commanders function as an interlinked bargainer when they balance the broader mission with the characteristics of the local conflict and the expectations of their subordinates. These insights indicate that when assessing the use of negotiation over time by multiple agents from one organization, military or civilian, an institutional perspective is warranted. In addition, from a historical perspective, because Helmand does not neatly fit the self-image of the U.S. Marine Corps, the lessons learned there are unlikely to be integrated into Marine training and education in the future.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Eileen Babbitt.
Committee: Nadim Rouhana, and Abigail Linnington.
Keyword: International relations.read less