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Monday, April 24, 2006

History Lessons


You might be surprised to know that before any planned deployment the soldiers are taught a bit about the history and culture of where they are going.

We learnt about the Ottoman Empire and the result its collapse had on the region.

We learnt how the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo had sparked the First World War.

We learnt about the infighting during the Second World War, the role of the Ustase and the Communist partisans led by Tito.

We learnt how Tito had enforced peace on the different nations which made up Yugoslavia and how this peace had failed after his death.

In fact we learnt that the different peoples who made up Yugoslavia had been killing each other off and on for hundreds of years.

Unfortunately I didn't read "The Bridge on the River Drina" by Ivo Andric until after I'd finished my second tour in Bosnia. It is perhaps the best explanation of what has happened in that part of the world.

7 Comments:

Blogger Theblonde said...

I am surprised indeed. So are all soldiers included in this history lesson? And then are there tests?

Thanks for the effort you put into this post, I've enjoyed the read.

.....Would have taken me hours just to get that many links in correctly...

10:30 pm  
Blogger Katy Newton said...

I think you've recommended that book before, possibly on DK's site.

I suddenly realised the other day that I have no idea how former Yugoslavia ended up the way it did at all. As far as I was concerned, one moment it was all "You go to Yugoslavia" adverts and the next it was carnage. And even now that I know two or three people working there, if you ask how it happened you get two or three explanations.

11:52 pm  
Anonymous Stu Savory said...

Bet the americans don't do that.

Or the CinC didn't attend.

5:23 am  
Blogger Universal Soldier said...

TheBlonde - everyone gets country briefs which cover the history, geography, basic political situation, etc. But they don't test us - thank god.

Katy - it's a good novel as well as being a good description of why they hate each other.

Stu - couldn't tell you about the Yanks. Actually I think most of our senior officers do try to understand the areas where we are going to.

7:58 am  
Blogger Nick said...

For sure it's a complicated part of the world. Strange how, if you want to get a grip on how it works, you have to go back through a thousand years of history (at least). And each country in the area has its own version of that history - each slightly different in emphasis from the others. No wonder it's difficult to figure them out. (But I keep trying!) I'd have been interested to hear what your army historians made of it.

9:14 am  
Blogger toastedeggbanjo said...

People oft think of soldiers as the uneducated bully boys of the empire buliding days, the reality is there are extremely well educated and a lot of time and effort is expended on thier behalf in prep for such tours.

Once upon a time I was on my EFP course for promotion to Sergeant, I ended up having an interesting discussion with a young know it all uni grad of a 2nd Lt Education Officer who tried to brief us on Northern Ireland. He started badly by saying he had studied it and was on the side of the republicans, bieng a 4 time vet, of Irish Catholic stock maried to an Ulster Proddie I felt I had to put the young lad right and he was shocked when I was able to talk of the 1641 uprising and the aftermath of Drogheda.

1:00 pm  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

Seen 'Stripes'? Take Bill Murray along n he'd soon sort 'em all out...

It's great there's so much effort put in to help you guys understand a bit of the history of where you're goin' so at least you've some idea why you're bein' shot at.

You're posts are real eye openers for me. Thanks.

5:16 pm  

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