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Issue 2023/01

Resilience - aspects of crisis competence

The cover photo of this issue shows a Ukrainian soldier in the trench near Bakhmut. The photographers Kostyantin and Vlada Liberov took this and other harrowing pictures of the Ukrainian war. It is emblematic of the Ukrainians’ spirit of resistance.

In this country, too, the Russian attack has changed the threat situation; soldiers in particular have to deal with the possibility of a military or hybrid attack. We take this up and discuss aspects of personal and societal resilience.

After a brief introduction to the concept of the “containerterm” by Herfried Münkler, oriented towards security policy, Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl elaborates the various dimensions and the transformative claim in her fundamental contribution. Referring to peace spirituality, she shows a way how resilience thinking could show the way out of routine, resignation and passivity. In the following, Cornelia Richter examines the relationship between religion, spirituality and resilience. She understands the latter as a crisis phenomenon that defies a static, preventive “fit for fight” approach, and sheds light on the importance of the core themes of Christian faith for experiencing and suffering through ambivalence and destructiveness. Craig Steven Titus approaches the phenomenon of resilience by highlighting several complementary dimensions of virtue and how they can provide the strength to stand up for others and work through extreme adversity.

The article by André Schülke and Alexander Filipović looks at sustained immunization against the corrosive effects of pervasive disinformation. In doing so, they emphasize a viable educational foundation. Finally, Eva van Baarle and Peter Olsthoorn take a critical look at military resilience-building programs and stress the need for moral awareness and power of judgment according to the mission spectrum of today’s armed forces.

The special then takes a look at particular challenges for soldiers. I spoke with psychologist Dr. Ulrich Wesemann from the Psychotrauma Center at the Bundeswehr Hospital in Berlin about the stresses of deployment and the limits of “mental fitness”. In addition, Peggy Puhl-Regler, Alexandra Hoff-Ressel and Peter Wendl from the Center for Marriage and Family in Society (ZFG) provide a detailed account of how military families can face up to the conditions of their profession (which have been exacerbated by the Zeitenwende, Germany’s historic geopolitical shift).

The struggles involved in coping with a severe impairment can be seen at the Invictus Games. The games for mentally or physically impaired soldiers will be held in Germany for the first time in September 2023. To mark the occasion, we introduce you to Frigate Captain Björn Baggesen, who competed at the Invictus Games in The Hague last year. The illustrated portrait “I want to be a role-model” at the end of this issue tells you how it all came about, what he and his wife Grit experienced there and took with them, and what role sport can play in recovery.

The fact that it makes sense to strengthen oneself for one’s own life, job and the challenges that come with it is particularly obvious in the military. But resilience should not be misunderstood as an unconditional claim to emerge unscathed from any adversity. In their article, the ZFG team write: “Developing fundamental awareness of the vulnerability of the body and soul is intrinsic to the very nature of being a human and soldier, and therefore also has its place in the character guidance training curriculum.” This issue of Ethics and Armed Forces aims to provide impulses for a differentiated debate. As always, we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who have contributed to this issue.

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Rüdiger Frank

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