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Military operations

Military operations

Photographer:Fotograaf: Photo: Sacha Ruland

Dies 2012

Military operations. It's one of the seven topics that will be presented by young researchers of Maastricht University tomorrow during the 36th foundation day of Maastricht University.

Dr. Hylke Dijkstra (1983, Groningen), postdoc at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The foundation day lecture. Good preparation is half the work done:

“I am definitely preparing well, but I like speaking before a broad audience. I am allowed to tell a broader story; I will refer to a number of issues from my PhD thesis, but I will also look forward. I want to show what I do and who I am.”

What do you find interesting about your research?

“I am interested in military operations by the United Nations, Europe and NATO, and in particular in their decision-making and responsibilities.

Worldwide there are now 250 thousand soldiers sent on missions abroad, a record number. Just after the Cold War, the figure was 11 thousand. This growth is gigantic and the cause is of course the large number of missions. Take Afghanistan, where we have been for years, or Darfur and the Congo, where the United Nations peacekeeping forces are stationed.

“What is important to know, is what happens internally, how a military operation is carried out, who makes the decisions, and who is responsible. On the one hand there are the UN secretary general, the head of NATO and top civil servants in Brussels who want to interfere. On the other hand there are the member states that want to have their say, because it’s about their soldiers. There is continuous tension and an ongoing political game.

“A concrete example: a NATO commander decided to attack a convoy of military vehicles in Libya. Moammar Gadhafi was killed during this attack. He died as a result of his injuries. That is when I want to know: who made the decision, what is behind it?”

A researcher in heart and soul?

“I won’t deny that I am ambitious, but since my childhood I never thought ‘research is my ultimate dream’. Nevertheless, everything has been going well so far. I completed my PhD in June and I am starting a postdoc in Oxford in September.” Dijkstra received a Marie Curie scholarship from the European Union (amounting to more than two hundred thousand euros) for his stay in Oxford.


Wendy Degens

Also speaking at the Dies symposium: researchers Anique de Bruin and Kristiaan Wouters



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