1st Edition

Understanding Battlefield Coalitions

Edited By Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Ryan Grauer Copyright 2023
    272 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book improves our understanding of battlefield coalitions, providing novel theoretical and empirical insight into their nature and capabilities, as well as the military and political consequences of their combat operations.

    The volume provides the first dataset of battlefield coalitions, uses primary sources to understand how non-state actors of varying types form such groupings, reports interviews with policymakers illuminating North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations, and uses cases studies of various wars waged throughout the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries to understand how other such collectives have operated. Part I introduces battlefield coalitions as an object of study, demonstrating how they are distinct from other wartime collectives. Using a novel dataset of actors fighting in 492 battles during interstate wars waged between 1900 and 2003, it provides, for the first time, a comprehensive portrait of the universe of battlefield coalitions. Part II explores processes and dynamics involved in the formation of battlefield coalitions, addressing how potential coalition members prepare for future battles in peacetime (as well as the consequences of such preparations) and the dynamics of mission design. Part III focuses on how battlefield coalitions are organised and fight when combat ensues, notably their decision-making rules and practices, command structures, and learning capacities. Part IV addresses three curious tendencies observed in the operations of battlefield coalitions: partners under-providing effort in combat, rebels and terrorist networks persisting in cooperation even when their interests diverge, and members defecting from the collective. Part V concludes with a chapter outlining for future researchers what we know about battlefield coalitions and what remains to be understood.

    This book will be of much interest to students of military and strategic studies, defence studies and International Relations.

    Part I: Introducing Battlefield Coalitions

    1. Battlefield Coalitions: Preparation, Organisation, Execution

    Rosella Cappella Zielinski and Ryan Grauer

    2. A Century of Coalitions in Battle: Incidence, Composition, and Performance, 1900-2003

    Rosella Cappella Zielinski and Ryan Grauer

    Part II: Preparation 

    3. Exercising Escalation: Do Multinational Military Exercises Provoke Interstate Security Crises?

    Kathryn M.G. Boehlefeld and Kelly A. Grieco

    4. When the Coalition Determines the Mission: NATO’s Detour in Libya

    Stéfanie von Hlatky and Thomas Juneau 

    Part III: Organisation

    5. Battlefield Coalitions as International Institutions: A Conceptual Framework

    Casey Mahoney

    6. Command and Military Effectiveness in Rebel and Hybrid Battlefield Coalitions

    Dan Reiter 

    7. Learning from Losing: How Defeat Shapes Coalition Dynamics in Wartime

    Sara Bjerg Moller 

    Part IV: Execution           

    8. Regime Type, War Aims, and Coalition Member Effort in Combat

    Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Ryan Grauer, and Alastair Smith

    9. Why Rebels Rely on Terrorists: The Persistence of the Taliban--al-Qaeda Battlefield Coalition in Afghanistan

    Barbara Elias 

    10. Coalitions and Wartime Diplomacy: Speaking with One Voice

    Eric Min

    Part V: Looking Ahead 

    11. Next Steps in the Study of Battlefield Coalitions

    Alex Weisiger


    Rosella Cappella Zielinski is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Boston University, USA. She is the author of How States Pay for Wars (2016).

    Ryan Grauer is an Associate Professor of International Affairs, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, USA. He is the author of Commanding Military Power (2016).

    'Many wars are fought by alliances and coalitions, yet we have very little systematic study of how such groupings fight together on the battlefield. Cappella Zielinski and Grauer amass a terrific team of analysts to ask and answer important questions about how wartime cooperation works or fails on the ground.'

    Stephen Saideman, Carleton University, Canada

    'Understanding Battlefield Coalitions

    is an impressive effort to consider the political and operational challenges of an increasingly common aspect of war-fighting. This theoretically and empirically rich collection of studies improves our understanding of modern warfare and sets an agenda for future research.'

    Brett Ashley Leeds, Rice University, USA