The following is a selection of Behavioural Conflict book reviews.  To access the full reviews just click on the link following each review.

Major General HR McMasters, US Army

IISSIn Behavioural Conflict, Andrew Mackay (a retired British Army Major-General) and Steve Tatham (a serving Royal Navy Commander and author of Losing Arab Hearts and Minds: The Coalition, Al Jazeera and Muslim Public Opinion) argue that the need to understand and alter group behaviours is ‘the defining characteristic of resolving armed disputes’ (p. vii). In making this point, the co-authors draw on their extensive experiences in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, the Levant, Iraq and Afghanistan, leavening those experiences with additional research and insights from the disciplines of psychology, behavioural economics and anthropology. Because young servicemen and women will continue to be thrust into unfamiliar cultures, teaching them how to understand certain behaviours and to exert influence to alter them will be a critical element of success in future military operations ...

Dr Neville Bolt. Teaching Fellow in the Department of War Studies, Kings College London

RUSIA change is long overdue – certainly in the world of military strategic communications. It has become axiomatic that information-rich message clusters be launched over horizons at (hostile) populations, both seen and unseen, in the hope of finding sympathetic targets and achieving behavioural change. Well, according to Andrew Mackay, Steve Tatham and their fellow contributors, it can no longer be a question of if but when we abandon this fallacy, and transform our own behaviour. What is called for, they plead, is a Copernican shift of perspective...

Untallguy. Army Rumour Service Blog

Army Rumour Service BlogGeneral Sir Rupert Smith, Martin Bell, untallguy: what a lineup and not one you are going to see on a regular basis. We’re not on each other’s Christmas card lists nor do we play Sunday League football together. What we do have in common is a very high regard for Behavioural Conflict – if you think that you may be going on operations between now and, say, 2050, read this book. If you wish to become a better professional member of the Armed Forces, read this book. In short, read the book – now.

The authors, Major General Andrew Mackay and Commander Steve Tatham, have subtitled their book, Why Understanding People and Their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict and this neatly encapsulates the main drive of the book: that Influence will be a key factor in future operations and that we, the British Armed Forces, do not do it well and that we need to do it better. Seeing what I see in my current appointment, I agree wholeheartedly with the authors...

Professor Robert Hinde. St John's Cambridge

This book addresses the questions of how to influence both the home population and the enemy in times of conflict. Aimed primarily at service personnel and politicians, it can be read by a much wider audience as an elementary introduction to the science of communication. It includes a chapter on ‘The science of influence’ by Lee Rowland. Analysing the nature of conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo,Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan,largely on the basis of personal experience, the authors describe the use (or misuse) of communication. Messages and policies crafted in Whitehall often proved irrelevant on the ground. Communication is never simple. The message sent by the sender (S) may have a different meaning to the recipient (R) to that intended by S. Attempts by US soldiers to stop Iraqi youths throwing stones at them by distributing leaflets demanding that the children should stop did not work because the children interpreted the message as indicative of their own success. The success of a message depends not only on accurate transmission but also on what R expects, desires and does, and may be influenced by a larger communication system in which S and R are embedded.

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