Defence Research Network

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Monthly Members' Newsletter

It's that time of year again...

For new friends, welcome! We are an interdisciplinary network of Masters, PhD and Early Career Researchers focused on defence, security and military topics in relation to policy, strategy, history, culture and society. We hope you find our network interesting, exciting, informative, and supportive.

For old friends, thanks for your continued involvement. We would be nothing without you! This September, we've got a whole host of new opportunities for you to start the term with, we've extended our essay competition deadline, and we're finally introducing you to our newest committee members!

Scroll down to get up to date with the news, opinions, and events from our members...

I can't be the only one thinking that September 2021 came around very quickly? As the new term starts for many of us next week, we at the DRN have been reflecting on the journey we have been on as a network over the past two years. Just before the coronavirus took its various shapes across the world, December 2019 saw the DRN relaunch with the help of the Defence Studies Department at King's College London. Welcoming around 50 people, we were excited and ambitious to connect with as many scholars in defence and security studies as possible. Soon after, this newsletter was born. For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, your dedication is much appreciated! 

This past year and a half have been - to reluctantly use the term - unprecedented. Our dreams of events, conferences, and meet-ups were put on hold as we collectively went into survival mode. However, in this time of global trauma, we have been so very overwhelmed by how many of you have engaged with and grown the DRN. We have felt more like a community than ever as we have helped each other navigate such a strange and all-encompassing situation. We have reached global audiences and learnt from so many varied and valuable perspectives - with our Twitter following reaching 2,629 at the time of writing! All of this would not have been possible without a dedicated committee, which you will see below is constantly growing. As the academic year begins we hope to continue working on our accessibility and the range of voices we include in our work.

In celebration of newness and embracing opportunities, then, this edition is particularly full of exciting job postings, calls for submissions, events, and participation requests. Whatever area of defence and security you are working in, there is bound to be something for you to roll with as you get into the swing of the new term. Unsure of what challenge to take on? Why not send a submission to our inaugural essay competition?! To give incoming Masters students an opportunity to take part, we have extended the deadline to 17th October - click here or scroll down for more information.

As always, we wish you a happy and healthy month!

The DRN Team 

In the News... 
UK-US-Australia nuclear submarine pact
The UK and the US have announced that they will help Australia to deploy nuclear submarines, posing a direct challenge to China's broad territorial claims in the Pacific. The deal would enable Australia to conduct patrols through the South China Sea, an area that China claims as its exclusive zone. The submarines would not be armed with nuclear weapons. Beijing has responded to the move by saying that it is 'irresponsible', running the risk of damaging international peace and exacerbating an arms race. 
North and South Korea launch ballistic missile tests 
Following this potentially intensifying arms race in the Pacific, North Korea has reportedly launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast this week. This is move is an open violation of multiple UNSC resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting such tests. Hours later, South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, announced that he had attended the test of his country's first submarine-launched ballistic missile. Although this move wasn't made in direct response to the North's activities, it provides a clear message to its neighbour that tensions are unlikely to defuse any time soon.
What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!
What we've been up to... 
Researcher Spotlight: New Committee Members!
As we begin a new academic year, we are excited to formally introduce to you some of our new committee members. They have already made a huge impact on the DRN's day-to-day, and we are really grateful to have them on board! If you are interested in joining them on our committee, make sure to reach out to us via email.
André Carvalho 
André is reading for an MSc in International Relations, Paraiba State University. Holds an appointment as Research Fellow at the South American Institute for Politics & Strategy and Research Intern at the International Institute for the Study of Security Verona. Contributes with Strife Blog & Journal as Series Editor. Research interests are: grand strategy, history of warfare, realist theory of IR, military transformation, deterrence and A2AD, wargaming.

Shannon Hill
Shannon is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her doctoral research is currently exploring the school transition experiences of adolescents living in Canadian military families. Shannon grew up in a Canadian military family and has first-hand experience going through education systems as a military-connected student. 

In addition to her personal experience, Shannon also brings professional knowledge as an educator to the work she is doing as she is currently a certified teacher in Ontario (OCT).
Connect with Shannon via email: or Twitter: @Shannon_LD_Hill

Phil Mitten 
Phil is a serving British Army Sergeant with operational experience in Afghanistan. A Military Instructor with a keen interest in the lived experience of people, much of his focus is on ground level leadership, followership, retention, and personnel development. During his seventeen years of service, he has self-studied a Masters Degree in Education with a Leadership and Management specialisation, and an Honours Degree in History.
Dr. Jordan Beavis
Jordan is a military historian who completed his PhD at the University of Newcastle, Australia, in 2021. His doctoral research examined the military connections and linkages that existed between the Australian Military Forces and the other armies of the British Commonwealth in the interwar period. Jordan was the 2018 recipient of the prestigious C. E. W. Bean Prize for his Honours thesis.

Major Jono Johnson
Jono is a second year PT PhD student at the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences at Birmingham City University. His research explores a complex intervention to develop constructive leadership behaviours and emotional intelligence in military commanders to improve the Mental Health and Wellbeing of service personnel. He holds an MSc in Leadership in Leadership and Management from the University of Portsmouth. He is a Late Entry Commissioned Officer in the British Army having served for over 30 years; he is currently on operations in the Middle East. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jono1688
Deadline Extended: 17th October 2021
DRN Essay Competition 2021 • Future Threats & Challenges: Is the World Ready?
We have extended the deadline of our essay competition to allow incoming Masters students to apply.

We are pleased to invite all Masters students and recent graduates in International Relations, History and related fields to submit an essay for our inaugural essay competition. The essays should explore the future of global security and look to answer the following question in an innovative, creative and critical way: Future Threats and Challenges: Is the World Ready?         
The competition is a chance for you to share your thoughts in a new way, not restricted by academic standards. By participating you will get useful experience and can give valuable visibility to your research. 
The submission will be peer-reviewed by the DRN committee, and three prizes will be awarded (in Amazon vouchers). The first prize of £50 will be awarded to the Best Essay'. Two other prizes of £25 each will be awarded to The Most Creative Essay’ and the essay presenting ‘The Best Case-Study’. The winners will also receive recognition on the DRN’s social media platforms.
The essays must be written in English and should not exceed 2,000 words (excluding references and bibliography). You are free to use any referencing style as long as its use is consistent. To keep hold of this information, download our flyer.

Please send your essays to and include ‘DRN 2021 Essay Competition’ in your subject line.

The deadline for submission is 17th October 2021.

Good luck! 

For any queries about the competition please contact the DRN via email ( or reach out to us on our social media platforms
EISA ECR Workshop: What do we know about war?

This week has been a busy one as the European International Studies Association has hosted its 14th Pan-European Conference. Prior to the official conference, a number of ECR workshops were held to give early-career scholars the opportunity to share and discuss their work. With one session asking 'what do we know about war?', it is unsurprising that we were keen to participate! Our brilliant co-Chair Hannah presented her work and has been kind enough to share her thoughts with the newsletter...
"I have been lucky to participate in two recent ECR workshops and learnt so much from presenting my work in these forums that I wanted to share with you some of the things I picked up and to demystify what it's like to take part. 
I had spotted an advert on Twitter for this workshop and the outline sounded right up my street. I applied and was accepted using an abstract I had developed for a similar ECR workshop (at which I had presented just a 10-minute presentation outlining my thoughts). To have a second workshop a couple of months later was really fortunate and meant I could work up a paper to get some feedback. Nearing the end of my PhD this was an opportunity to test out how I might write a paper to present the main argument of my thesis.

I don’t mind sharing that I was daunted to approach a workshop where a whole hour had been dedicated to my paper. Everyone had had the papers in advance so all participants had been encouraged to read everyone’s papers which meant they were all ready to contribute. After giving a 10-minute presentation of my paper, I had lots and lots of feedback. This is not always the easiest thing to hear especially because it is easy to compare your papers with others there but over the 8 papers presented I began to see a pattern of themes that we could all learn from as well as recognising that we were all at different stages, the papers were also at different stages of development and they all had different strengths. 

What did I learn about writing a paper? 
  • Have the courage of your ideas. 
  • Who is your paper talking to?  
  • What is your big argument/contribution/golden thread (is there more than one paper in there)? 
  • Don’t have too much literature. Use enough literature to set up your intervention, get to what you want to say. 
  • Where is your voice in the literature? 
  • Evidence that which allows you to make a particular assertion.
We also had a discussion about how to ‘use’ these workshops and were encouraged to see the hour dedicated to our paper as our time. It is hard not to feel like you need to respond to every question and acknowledge other’s contributions, but we talked about making sure you get what you need from the experience. This means that you don’t have to comment on everything everyone says. 

I got so much from this two day workshop and I would absolutely encourage you to look for similar opportunities. We had two Master students as well as PhD students at the beginning and ends of their journey. 

The programme was split into three sessions (fortunately over two half days so that we were not to Zoomed out!) on the lived experiences of war, temporality of war, ambiguity of war. We heard about the individualisation of war, problematising war, operational art, Syria, war monuments, child soldiers and martial scepticism. It was a really stimulating programme and got me thinking about different literatures to those I usually engage with. 

I admit that in the days ahead of the workshop, it felt like a bit of a chore to know I had seven papers to read before it started but apart from the challenge of making time for this I genuinely enjoyed reading them and it is so refreshing to be forced to read more outside of one’s usual field. If I am honest I still thought that beyond my paper feedback I might not get that much from the other sessions as there was not so much obvious overlap with my work from the article titles. I was so wrong. There were so many themes across the papers that paralleled with mine from visibility, narratives, boundaries, power, aesthetics, martialism but beyond a long list of themes, I learnt much more about how to write a paper from my own feedback but also the discussion of everyone else’s papers.

I owe a huge thank you to Michelle Weitzel and Raphael Leduc for all the invisible work that goes into organising a workshop and to Prof Keith Krause, Dr Tarak Barkawi and Dr Antoine Bousquet for the time they put into reading and critiquing all of our papers and giving generous, thorough, kind and constructive feedback to us all. I know it was hugely valued by all participants. I wish all the participants good luck in developing their articles and getting them published – I look forward to reading them."
Is Peace Just the Absence of War? 
21st September, 1pm - 2.15pm (BST)

Held aptly on the 40th anniversary of World Peace Day, for this webinar a collection of brilliant speakers will be reflecting on the nature and deterioration of peace in the 21st century. Hosted by the Director of the LSE's Centre for Women, Peace and Security, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, this discussion will interrogate what exactly a culture of peace might look like and how might we build it, bringing together insights from Afghanistan, Colombia, and many others.
The speakers are: 
Roméo Dallaire (@romeodallaire), founder of Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace, and Security. A celebrated advocate for human rights, Dallaire is a government and UN advisor as well as a former Canadian Senator.

Guissou Jahangiri (
@guissoujahangir), a women's rights, cultural, and peace activist. She leads advocacy campaigns in Afghanistan and the greater region and has spent five years in war-torn Tajikistan as a Human Rights Watch researcher.

Rosa Emilia Salamanca (
@milucina), the Director of Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica, a feminist organisation based in Colombia.

For more information and to sign up, click here.

Cleveringa Dallaire Critical Conversation Series
From 22nd September  

The Cleveringa Dallaire Critical Conversation Series is hosting a series of eight conversations over a five-week period starting on the 22nd of September 2021. These conversations will explore the issue of leadership and moral dilemma during times of conflict and crisis. They will address issues such as: how leaders sustain moral codes in times of adversity; how leaders cope with the impact of war on the battlefield, in UN leadership, in criminal courts, and at home; how leaders find repair following moral injury. 

Led by 
Roméo Dallaire, the conversations are hosted by  Leiden UniversityHeroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium at the University of Alberta and The Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security at Dalhousie University.

Find out more about the schedule and register here.
Moral Injury and Families’ experiences of supporting Veterans and Emergency Services First Responders to seek help for mental health problems
29th September, 4.30am (BST) 

Open Door and ASCN are inviting us to join them for the launch of their new research on Australian Military and Public Safety Connected Families. As well as presenting their research and launching a 'Guide for Families' informed by the voices of its participants, the webinar will include a panel discussion with leading experts in the field.

The speakers are:  
Tiffany Sharp, Veteran Families Advocate
Allira Newlands, Police Families Advocate
Leonie Nowland, Assistant Secretary, Client Coordination and Support, Mental Health & Wellbeing Service Division, DVA
Mark Carroll, President Police Association of SA

To sign up, click here.  
Illicit Money: Financing Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century
30th September, 3pm - 4pm (BST) 
RUSI invites you to join them for a conversation with their Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies associate fellow Jessica Davis on her latest book, Illicit Money, which brings new thinking to understudied dimensions of how terrorists procure and protect their funds. 
To find out more and sign up, click here. To buy Jessica's book, click here.
Extremism and Gaming Research Network Launch
6th October, 4pm - 5pm (BST) 
Also coming from RUSI, this event celebrates the launch of their Extremism and Gaming Research Network. During this event, members of the network will set the scene for the research agenda of the network and discuss existing research and recent findings on gaming and extremism.

The speakers will be: 

Linda Schlegel, Associate Fellow, modus|zad.
Milo Comerford, Head of Policy and Research, Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
Rachel Fielden, Analyst, Moonshot.
Galen Lamphere-Englund, Research and Insights Director, Love Frankie.

The event will be chaired by Dr Jessica White, Research Fellow, Terrorism and Conflict, Royal United Services Institute. To find out more and register, click here.

Defence and Security Doctoral Symposium
9th November 2021, 10am - 4pm GMT 

Hosted by Cranfield University, the Defence and Security Doctoral Symposium provides research students and early career researchers in defence and security with an opportunity to present their work to a sector-wide audience. It covers both technological and social science research. This year, they are holding an all-virtual event running between 10am and 4pm on the 9th of November. As well as panels, roundtables, and posters, the event also includes exhibition space for industry and other employers of defence and security researchers. 

Although the deadline for submissions has now passed, registration is open and we are looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible! 

 To find out more and register, check out their webpage

Landpower Wargame
30th November, 10pm-1am (GMT) (6pm-9pm EST)
On the 30th of November Mike Dunn, a Battle Simulations Specialist with the Army University at FT Leavenworth, KS, will be virtually conducting a session of Landpower, a US Army educational wargame. This tabletop wargame was developed to prepare the next generation of mid-grade officers to plan, fight, and win on the potential future battlefield. Dunn will take you through the structure and professional military uses of this game. To learn more and register, click here.
As always, keep an eye on our Twitter for new events and opportunities posted/retweeted every day!

Planning a future event?
If you are planning a defence-related event and you would like to reach an audience of like-minded researchers, we'd love to come along! Drop us an email and we can include it in our next newsletter.
If you are interested in any of our events but don't want to go alone, or simply want to expand your network, please reach out on Twitter or drop us an email and we can connect you with fellow DRN members who may be planning to attend.

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.
Job Opportunity: Post Doctoral Research Associate
University of Exeter
Deadline for applications: 20th September 2021
Interviews expected to take place: 30th September 2021

The College of Social Sciences and International Relations at the University of Exeter is looking to hire a Postdoctoral Research Associate on a full-time, fixed-term basis from the 1st October 2021 to the 31st March 2022. The post will be supporting the work of Dr Sarah Bulmer on the Military Afterlives project. The successful applicant will analyse life history interview data and co-author research papers with the project team. 
For more information on this exciting opportunity, follow this link and/or contact Dr Bulmer at 
Job Opportunity: Research Assistant at the Policy Institute
King's College London
Deadline for applications: 20th September 2021
The Policy Institute at King’s College London is looking for a Research Assistant to work on high-profile and influential policy research and analysis projects. You would have the opportunity to work directly with senior policymakers, politicians and practitioners, as well as media and thought leaders across a range of important policy areas. The post is offered on a full-time, fixed-term contract for 2 years. If this sounds up your street and you're interested in finding out more, follow this link.
Call for Papers: Sandhurst Trends in International Conflict Series 
Practicing/Employing/Working/Doing/Making Security: the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Military Operations

3rd March 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 21st September 2021
Hosted by the Department of Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the latest iteration of the Sandhurst Trends in International Conflict series will focus on the integration of the WPS agenda in military operations. 

The symposium aims to generate a conversation between academics and practitioners to better understand the contemporary challenges and obligations militaries have towards: protecting civilians; increasing women’s role in peacekeeping and peacemaking; preventing the six grave violations against children; stopping modern slavery and human trafficking.

They are inviting paper presentations from scholars and practitioners which address the challenges and opportunities of integrating human security and the WPS agenda into strategic and defence policy. Key questions to be explored might include:
  • The renewed relevance of WPS in 2022 and developments and innovations in worldwide National Action Plans.
  • How best to prevent conflict-related sexual violence?
  • Can WPS adapt in light of changes in the conduct of warfare, including the deliberate targeting of women and children and the use of human shields in urban operations?
  • What are the best cases of successful integration of WPS into strategic and defence policies and how can these be shared globally?
  • How can theory best inform practitioners preparation and planning on operations, and how can practitioners experiences be included in theory?
  • What have been the major shortcomings of militaries globally in increasing women’s participation and what can be done to address them?
  • The challenges and best practices for protecting children in armed conflict from the 6 grave crimes, including the demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers. 
  • What role can and should militaries have in stopping human trafficking and supporting domestic police forces?
  • How can human security and WPS address other vulnerable groups such as LGBTQI+, undocumented, and displaced communities?
  • How can professional military education and trainers adapt to address the importance of gender mainstreaming and the human terrain in contemporary conflict? 
If you wish to submit a paper, the deadline to submit an outline and abstract is the 21st September 2021. All submissions and questions should go to To read more, follow this link.
Call for papers: The Algorithmic Turn in Security and Warfare Conference
6th - 7th January 2022
Centre for War Studies (CWS), University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Odense.
Deadline for submissions: 15th October 2021

Launched in August 2020, “AutoNorms: Weaponised Artificial Intelligence, Norms, and Order” is a five-year, ERC-funded project that brings together a research team under the leadership of Dr Ingvild Bode. It features research exploring how the development and application of autonomous weapon systems transform use-of-force norms. 

Holding a conference on the "algorithmic turn" in security and warfare, they invite participants to discuss functional applications of AI shaping the social, business, legal, and political fields. Looking to diverse settings such as borders, surveillance, predictive policing, weaponised AI, and military applications of AI, they are interested in submissions that draw upon various social sciences, such as science and technology studies, political theory and ethics, critical geography, history, cultural analysis, international law, and International Relations.

To take part in the conference, submit a 300-word abstract by the 15th of October 2021. For more information and how to submit, download their flyer here.
Job Opportunity: Wargaming Analyst
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Deadline for applications: 18th October 2021
Dstl is looking to hire a team of Wargaming Analysts to join the Defence Wargaming Centre. Using wargaming as a structured analytical technique to understand conflict, the team will provide advice to the Ministry of Defence and the wider UK Government. Analysts brought into the Defence Wargaming Centre will benefit from Dstl's Wargaming Development Framework to give a broad range of opportunities to develop the breadth of skills needed to be a professional wargamer. As well as building a broad range of skills, you will be given opportunities to specialise in areas of wargaming. For more information and to apply, follow this link.
Call for Papers: BISA Conference 2022: Can the world survive?
Submissions open: 4th October 2021
Deadline for submissions: 4th November 2021
Conference held: in person, Civic Centre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 15th June 2022
Submissions will soon be open for BISA's 2022 conference and we are very much looking forward to what is always a brilliant event. This year, they are asking: can the world survive? Is the world able to cooperate effectively to address global challenges? With global attention turned towards the pandemic, what major shifts in global politics are taking place out of sight? Does the digitisation of international politics create new forms of hybrid activism and change, or augment existing divides and inequalities? And how do we access international politics? Answering these questions is no easy task, and they are looking for brilliant individual paper, panel, and roundtable submissions that are up to the challenge. They encourage submissions which are topically, empirically, theoretically, and methodologically diverse and adventurous. Find out more here.

Does this all sound a bit daunting to you? Keep your eyes peeled because the DRN committee is planning to hold an event in October in which we will discuss our BISA abstracts. What's more, we would love to put forward a DRN panel or roundtable. If you have any ideas and/or would be keen to participate in this, don't hesitate to contact us by email or Twitter.
Grant Opportunity: Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy 
Deadline for applications: 1st December 2021
The deadline for applications for Horowitz Foundation grants is fast approaching! The Foundation makes approximately twenty-five grants each year. Research grants are open to researchers in all social science disciplines and are not restricted to US citizens or those enrolled in US institutions. The awards range from $7,500 - $12,500. For more information about criteria and eligibility, download the call for applications or visit their website.
Call for Papers: Journal of Advanced Military Studies

Deadline for submissions: 1st January 2022

The journal of Advanced Military Studies is looking for submissions for its Spring 2022 issue exploring military response to national emergencies and natural disasters. They are keen to read articles that address both contemporary and historical examples, including both foreign and domestic use of the military in emergency and disaster response scenarios. Submissions should be between 4,000 and 10,000 words. For more information, click here and/or contact 

Call for Papers: The Journal of Aeronautical History
The Journal of Aeronautical History is looking for papers that speak to diverse and non-technical areas of aeronautical history, from scholars at all stages of their careers.
As an internationally recognized, free-to-access, web-based, peer-reviewed publication of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the JAH covers all aspects of aerospace history and the development of aircraft and aeronautical engineering. The editors are particularly interested in hearing from PGRs, ECRs, and scholars researching non-technical aspects of aerospace history, whether that be the evolution of the science and engineering of flight, biographies of notable individuals, and/or civil and military organizational and operational histories. For more information visit their website, or e-mail , or Twitter @Cobraball3.
Call for Contributors: Defence-In-Depth
The Defence-In-Depth blog is run by Kings College London and has recently featured a number of blogs from DRN members. Their content is well suited to the breadth of our network and they are keen to hear from you with contributions from a wide range of subject areas. To submit a piece or discuss your ideas, contact the editor at
Supporting our community...
Call for Participants: Military Partners of UK Veterans
Emma Long is looking for civilian partners of UK veterans to participate in her study. She is interested in experiences of being 'connected' to Armed Forces life, from first becoming a military partner to the present day. If you want to find out more, reach out to her via email.
Call for Participants: Ex-servicewomen with experience of accessing mental health services.
Working within the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research, Dr Lauren Godier-McBard is looking for female veterans to co-design a research project into the provisions of mental health services for ex-servicewomen and their experiences of accessing these services. For more information, download her Information Sheet or contact her directly at
Fundraising for PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide  
At the end of this year the brilliant Gav Topley, a former co-chair of the DRN, is tackling Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for PAPYRUS, the national Charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide.  

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK, in 2018 over 1800 young people took their own lives. PAPYRUS provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK. We'd love it if you would donate to Gav's challenge here, and you can read about PAPYRUS' good work here. 
#DefResChat: On our holidays!
This month, our #TwitterHour team took a bit of a hiatus to give us all a well-deserved break.
However, don't fret! Another one will be coming your way shortly. Keep your eyes peeled on our website for all the info on the next #DefResChat, and don't forget to follow our Twitter. 

You can also find all our previous #DefResChats on the Archive section of our
website. Make sure to tag @DefenceResNet and hashtag #DefResChat to join the conversation.
Find Out More
What we're reading...
'In Conversation' with our Committee Members 
To start the new term, we have shaken up our 'In Conversation' series to ask our committee members a little bit about their experiences and academic journeys. You can find out more about our members by checking out our website! We can't wait to get to know you more as the term goes on...
Veronika Poniscjakova  
What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?
There are three big pieces of advice that I wish someone had given me. First of all, be prepared to enter a competitive academic market. Think about what skills or experience you need, what kind of publications or extra qualifications you should have on top of your doctorate. Start working on these things early on in your PhD. Secondly, don’t feel pressured to stay in academia, and again, think about what kind of experience or skills you need to get a non-academic job. Lastly, do not feel that you have to stick to your PhD topic for the rest of your (non)academic career; if you want to pivot completely, do it. The world is your oyster!

Emily Clifford
What got you into your field of study in the first place? 

I spent my early years in Saudi Arabia, and I really credit my curiosity around this experience for igniting my interest in feminism, human rights, security, and international politics. Particularly as a young, white woman growing a political voice in Britain, I was interested in the ways that international and domestic politics impacted people's lived experiences. On top of this, watching the Arab Spring erupt during my A-Levels gave me a real sense of how grassroots political movements work and the position of gender in this. After beginning an International Relations undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter I really got the bug of writing and was able to streamline my work to focus on conflict, race, and gendered violence. That was eight years ago, and I guess I have never stopped! 

Phil Mitten
What are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?
I'm currently reading 'The Rise of the Meritocracy - Michael Young' as some background research into a piece of writing I am considering putting together on the myth of meritocracy in the military. I used to be a fan of the concept, but on reflection based on seventeen years of service I have other views! Whether or not I'm enjoying the book is a tough question because I'm not 'enjoying' the book, owing to the disproven ideology, but I am certainly enjoying the research.

Hannah West
What is the most effective teaching method you have delivered or seen delivered? 

Teaching has been a steep learning curve during my PhD and one I haven't always enjoyed given how tough receiving anonymous student evaluation can feel when you are starting out.
The best advice I have had was from Dr Sarah Moore who said most people set off in academia thinking about what kind of researcher they would like to be, but rarely ask, 'What kind of teacher do I want to be?'. Thinking about this question was a turning point for me and in response to it I have tried to watch more people lecture (especially because with an undergraduate degree in engineering a long time ago now, my experience of been taught, let alone teaching, in the social sciences was limited). But one of the best examples I have come across was in fact something I read rather than having actually seen it delivered but it completely changed my thinking about what a lecture could look like. It came from Dr Ben Schrader who described how he used the 'gallery walk' whereby students in small groups walked around a room where he had pinned up photographs of Afghan children's art. In groups, they examine and discuss each picture and then come together for a group discussion. The artwork is juxtaposed against literature about drones and generates fascinating engagement with war in different ways. To me, this seemed a completely different way of setting up the teaching space for collaborative knowledge production. I haven't had the opportunity to put it into practice yet but I look forward to the day when I can.
Jemma Humphries 
What are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?

I'm currently reading The Changing of the Guard, The British Army since 9/11, by Simon Akam. I'm about halfway through this 600pager, and so far it has been fantastic in merging the overarching story of the invasion of Iraq, the story of the British military as an institution, and importantly some of the individual stories of British units in Iraq. Akam does a great job of exploring the evolving organisational culture of the British Army, transitioning onto a war footing, and interrogating how masculinity has permeated throughout the organisation. Spotlighting how masculinity intersects with warfare and operational effectives, and  ineffectiveness. I'm very much looking forward to the Afghanistan critique in the second half of this book. If you are looking for a critical take on The British Army over the past 20 years this is the book to read.

Shannon Hill
What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?

As someone who is nearing the end of my PhD programme, I often think about things I wish I had known at the beginning of my programme or things I wish I would have started doing earlier.  Here are just a few things that I have learned and picked up along the way:
  • While it may feel scary, put yourself out there and build a network. You never know what a conversation could lead to.
  • Surround yourself with individuals who support you academically and personally. You need people in your corner who care about you as a person, and not just how many articles you publish.
  • Don’t feel pressured to work 24/7. A healthy work-life balance is key for productivity. It is important to take breaks and re-charge.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others are often going through similar experiences, so it is important to speak up when you have questions. There is no need to struggle alone!
  • Your interests will change over time, so get involved in lots of different projects, initiatives, etc. You won’t know what you like or don’t like until you try it.
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Blog Spotlight: Reflecting on Afghanistan 
A month after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after international forces withdrew from the country, many of us have been reflecting on this crisis in relation to both our political responsibilities and personal experiences. Here, two DRN members, academics, and British Armed Forces veterans have shared their thoughts...
In 'We need to talk about RAF Air Transport', Dr Sophy Antrobus and Andy Neatherwood discuss the centrality of RAF Air Mobility Force to the Afghan evacuations. They put this in context of both the history of RAF Air Mobility operations in early-noughties Afghanistan and Macedonia and the MoD's plan to cut the RAF Mobility Force by nearly 30% over the next two years. Read the article here.
In 'A Terrifying but Awesome Day': a diary extract from Afghanistan, the Soldier-Historian reflects on her experience of deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. Through an extract from her diary, she uses her post to highlight the discomfort many veterans felt on hearing about the recent situation in Afghanistan. Read her piece here.
Do you have a blog or publication you would like to promote? Don't hesitate to share it with us via email and we can add it to our newlsetter.
New Books
Quite topically, given recent developments in Afghanistan as well as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this month’s new books cover the same topic – the War in Afghanistan. There are more similarities between these two books though: both are written by journalists and both give shocking accounts of the War.
First Casualty: The Untold Story of the Battle That Began the War in Afghanistan 
Toby Harnden
This book focuses on a story of the six-day battle that began the War, outlining unreliable allies, ethnic rivalries, suicide attacks, and errant bombs that foreshadowed what was going to follow for twenty years of conflict. This book is based on unprecedented access to the CIA, SBS, and US Special Forces. 
You can buy a copy 
The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War 
Craig Whitlock 
This investigative book reveals the US government’s failures in Afghanistan, including the flawed strategies, nation-building or widespread corruption in Afghanistan. It is based on interviews with people directly involved in the War who were aware of the US government’s distorted, evenfabricated presentation of the events and facts in Afghanistan. 
You can buy a copy 
Pause for thought...

This week London's ExCeL Centre played host to DSEI, Europe's biggest arms fair. Whilst this is always a controversial occasion, Jasper Jolly argues in the Guardian that the sale of British defence firms, rather than demonstrations by protestors, is the most pressing concern for the UK government. Jolly warns of a 'hollowing-out' of British manufacturing, and thus a reduction of jobs, if Britain's long=established defence businesses are taken over by foreign buyers. This, he suggests, puts the government in an uncomfortable position between pleasing voters and promoting Britain as open to global business.

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