Combatants in African Conflicts : Professionals, Praetorians, Militias, Insurgents, and Mercenaries book cover
1st Edition

Combatants in African Conflicts
Professionals, Praetorians, Militias, Insurgents, and Mercenaries

ISBN 9781351065467
Published May 10, 2022 by Routledge
248 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping

What are VitalSource eBooks?

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book focuses on the different types of combatants in conflicts in Africa, exploring the fine lines between what might be classified as a militia in one conflict, a rebel in another, or a terrorist in a third.

Drawing on the work of Carl von Clausewitz, this book provides a conceptually stable and analytically sound new typology on combatants. Analysing the relationships between state and society, and drawing on Clausewitz's Trinity of passion, chance, and reason, the book presents a set of five types of armed actors: Professionals, Praetorians, Militias, Insurgents, and Mercenaries. Each type is developed through a close reading of foundational theoretical texts, reviews of contemporary studies, and a historical analysis of their unique characteristics. Unlike a reductionist binary perspective, this typology accounts for the dynamic, complex, and evolving relationships of these actors with the state and society.

A typology of combatants in conflicts in Africa can provide avenues for more in-depth analysis of such conflicts and holds implications for Security Sector Reform projects and other peace-building programmes. As such, this book will be an essential reference for scholars and students of African Politics and Military and Security Studies.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Trinitarian Theory

Chapter 2: The Professional Soldier Ideal Type

Chapter 3: The Praetorian Soldier Ideal Type

Chapter 4: The Militia Soldier Ideal Type

Chapter 5: The Insurgent Soldier Ideal Type

Chapter 6: The Mercenary Soldier Ideal Type


View More



Simon David Taylor is a former Senior Foreign Service officer at the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation and holds a Master of Social Science from the University of Cape Town and a PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He writes on African history, diplomacy, terrorism, and security issues.


"The book offers a thought-provoking contribution to the debate about who fights in war and how we can understand these actors and their agency. It provides an ideal type categorisation, which is illustrated by case material from the African conflicts; recommended reading!"

Isabelle Duyvesteyn, Professor of International Studies and Global History, Leiden University, The Netherlands

"Combatants in African Conflicts demonstrates that Carl von Clausewitz’s trinitarian understanding of war is highly relevant to contemporary warfare in Africa. The book’s careful application of lessons from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European history and beyond to conflict parties in Africa’s post-colonial wars results in a wealth of thought-provoking insights."

Henning Tamm, University of St Andrews, UK

"Simon Taylor’s book provides much-needed conceptual clarity over our contemporary understanding of combatants in Africa and beyond. It is not the least of its merits that it should do so strongly resting on African military history."

Henri Michel Yéré, Centre for African Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland