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The Impact of Modern-System Training on Battlefield Participation by Kurdish Soldiers
Journal of Conflict Resolution  (IF3.211),  Pub Date : 2022-05-20, DOI: 10.1177/00220027221078332
Matthew Cancian

What drives soldiers to risk death on the battlefield? Scholars have suggested that battlefield participation is driven by ideology, coercion, and cohesion while overlooking the importance of confidence in tactical success. On contemporary battlefields, training in effective, modern-system tactics will increase initial confidence and create a positive feedback loop of battlefield participation and combat effectiveness. I test this theory through the as-if random assignment of Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers) to modern-system training by Western countries. One third of the Peshmerga had no formal training, one third had non–modern-system training from other Peshmerga, and one third had been trained in the modern-system. While non–modern-system training slightly increased unit confidence, it did not impact battlefield participation; coalition training in modern-system tactics dramatically increased confidence and, more importantly, led to higher levels of self-reported battlefield participation