Workshop on Military Professionalization and the Colonial Legacy of British Military Training
On October 30, 2019, Dr. Kristine Eck, an associate professor of Uppsala University gave a talk in a workshop titled “Military Professionalization and the Colonial Legacy of British Military Training.” This workshop was supported with funding from the Grants-in-Aid for Challenging Research and the Top Global University Project.
Professor Eck started her talk with the question: “What kind of effect do colonial practices have on countries after independence?” A robust literature finds that colonial legacies live on in the political, social, and economic institutions and practices of former territories after they have gained independence. However, there are limited studies which examine whether colonialism had impact on national militaries. Given this motivation, Professor Eck’s team disentangles two components of military professionalization and studies their connection: military training and institutional specialization. In this particular talk, Dr. Eck provided a research done in the context of the UK and its colonial territories, which received varying levels of training at the metropole prior to and directly after decolonization.
Professor Eck argued that the more officer cadets were sent for training to the UK, the more likely the national military was to develop organizational specialization within its force. The theory is based on the idea that the training that foreign cadets received in the UK taught them norms regarding how to conceive of a modern army, and that these officers in turn exported ideas about force specialization to their national militaries, resulting in a more sophisticated force composition. This argument was tested by using new archival data on training of foreign cadets at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst (RMAS), an elite officer training school in the UK, for the period 1948-1971. This project brings together and contributes to two different strands of literature: colonial legacies and military professionalization.