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Book Review: Blurring Military and Police Roles

By Marleen Easton, et al.; Reviewed by Ross Johnson, CPP

***** Blurring Military and Police Roles. Edited by Marleen Easton, et al. Eleven International Publishing, www.elevenpub.com; 239 pages; $49.00.

An absence of war does not guarantee that the conditions for democracy and a stable economy will take root. To achieve this, nations need security at the community level: freedom from the burdens of crime, terrorism, corruption, reprisal, and all the other social diseases that follow in the wake of warfare. To achieve this, countries have enlisted military forces as “peacekeepers” who have policing roles.

Blurring Military and Police Roles is a fascinating collection of scholarly essays on this subject from both the police and military points of view, as well as from historical, organizational, and operational perspectives. It is current, including lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, and historical, reaching as far back as Colonial South Asia and beyond. The first part of the book deals with context and concepts, and the second with the implications and challenges of this evolution of security.

In the first part, the chapter “Blending Through International Deployment,” is particularly interesting. The author, David Last, compares and contrasts the role of police and military through history, including the very recent experience in Afghani­stan. He points out that police and military forces evolve to meet the needs of the state but are changed by their experiences, including foreign operations. Last also demonstrates how the police and the military forces can be viewed as being on a continuum of increasing size and violence that starts with police and continues through SWAT teams, paramilitary groups, special forces, and counterterrorism units, and ends with the military—a nation’s last word in the use of force.

(To continue reading this review from our April 2012 issue, please click here)

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