Report on the professional and educational backgrounds within Non-state Actors.

Finnegan, Patrick (2023) Report on the professional and educational backgrounds within Non-state Actors. Discussion Paper. N/A.

Report on the professional and educational backgrounds within Non-state Actors.
Report submitted to workshop on how NSA recruitment practices influence operations.

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This report assesses how different recruitment strategies, focused on professional and educational backgrounds, has on Violent Nonstate Actors (VNSAs) operational activity. The groups chosen are the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and the Oath Keepers (OK). They represent different ends of relevant spectrums, which in turn impact on their operational options. Comparing these groups is beneficial for many reasons. Firstly, they collectively represent a historical and an emergent threat, allowing for lessons to be drawn and tested in real time. This allows us to assess how modern groups differ from prior threats or how some trends maintain salience over time. Their geographic distance also allows us to highlight the role played by national context. Secondly, they demonstrate the two extremes an organization can adopt in terms of how they target recruitment based on educational and professional backgrounds. Most groups will fall somewhere in between these poles but understanding groups at either end of this continuum will provide benchmarks for policy responses.
Although both groups are separated by time and space, valuable lessons can be drawn from this comparison. Most importantly, this report shows how relying too much on overt military skills and backgrounds may limit the innovative capacity and thus operational choices of the Oath Keepers, given their current strategy. PIRA was able to exploit a wider knowledge base derived from its almost total civilian membership. Their chosen membership and strategy allowed them to blend into society making them more difficult to identify and target. Another important lesson drawn from this comparison is the confirmation that organizational culture may be even more influential in VNSAs than in traditional militaries or civilian occupations. PIRA’s relatively greater diversity allowed it to subvert civilian professions already present in its source community and turn them against the state. OK’s prioritization of their quasi-military identity and the subsequent mono-cultural dynamic makes them more immediately threatening but may confine them in the long term.
While OK are not yet proscribed as a terrorist organization, their tactics and overt militarism is designed to instill fear. Their role in the events of January 6 also shows their willingness to engage in violence when they choose to do so. Their loose organizational structure and tendency to disavow violence which does not suit their immediate needs also grants them a level of deniability that might otherwise bring state action against them.

Keywords:Non-state actors, Education, professionalism, far right politics, Organisational change
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V391 Military History
N Business and Administrative studies > N215 Organisational Development
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:55274
Deposited On:25 Jul 2023 16:22

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