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Journal article

The strategic civilian: challenges for non-combatants in 21st Century warfare

31 Mar 2016

Australia's commitment to overseas complex emergencies involves ever increasing numbers of civilian and police personnel. Just as relatively junior military personnel are expected to demonstrate strategic levels of awareness, flexibility and leadership so civilians are playing critical roles within contemporary combat zones. Many of these civilians are junior in rank, but when deployed into conflict areas carry enormous responsibility for decisions and as representatives of their agencies and countries. Although the division of roles between civilians and the military is generally clear, what is perhaps less well understood is the strategic role of civilian diplomats, aid personnel, police and advisers. While public servants should not be involved in fighting, they share that danger and they will be engaged in mediating between warring parties and delivering aid. This article discusses the necessity of preparing civilian and military personnel to work together, to understand what each brings to conflict termination and resolution. It also considers the challenges faced by civilians in-theatre. The article outlines some of the principles underpinning the employment of civilians in modern conflict.

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