Transfer of Authority ceremoni i NATO Mission Iraq

Foto: Forsvarsgalleriet

NMI advises and trains Iraqi forces based on “partnership and inclusivity as well as on full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”. Accordingly, the COE NMI course overall objective is to educate staff officers in culture based on key research findings from military anthropology, Iraqi history and Iraqi politics to reach this mission objective.


Course Description

As Denmark prepares to take lead of NMI, this course offers education and training in “culture as an operational enabler” (COE) tailored specifically for personnel to be deployed in NMI. While Iraq is the empicial focus of this course, COE is a broad concept and is relevant for personnel and students looking beyond NMI. COE is a concept that has been developed through research at the Royal Danish Defence College. At the College, a team of anthropologists research different areas of military anthropology. The COE concept is one result of this research, which also explores military culture, training missions and civil-military interaction. It is clear that culture can be disabling for operational efficiency. But culture can also be an operational enabler – through insights into complex political circumstances and practical training in cultural understanding and inter-cultural competencies.


In NMI, culture can be categorized in at least two ways: there is “Iraqi” culture, including the unique history of Iraq, social developments and its recent context of war, social and political turmoil; and there is “our” culture, which includes solving military tasks such as advice and training in close cooperation with allied forces of various nationalities (and cultures). Taken in sum, NMI is thus a complex cultural assemblage of various cultures, which sometimes result in misunderstandings, surprises, frictions and even mistakes or clashes.


In order alleviate these risks and thus enhance operational effect, and in order to prepare Danish and Allied staff personnel for NMI, the course follows two main educational trajectories with special emphasis on the first:


Firstly, after a brief introduction to the concept of culture, the course will give insight into recent history and politics of modern Iraq. Special attention will be given to areas of importance to NMI: i.e. the security apparatus, security sector reform (theory and practice), current challenges to the Iraqi state and theories that capture the interrelation between state, security and society (including concepts like sect, family and tribe). How do political legacies from the Saddam era continue to this current moment? And what are the structures of security dynamics in Iraq? Historical knowledge and theoretical models will be put to test in concrete and mission-realistic scenarios.


Secondly, the coalition culture of NMI is scrutinized. Experiences from formerly deployed personnel as well as the experiences of course participants from similar coalition environments will form the basis for systematic evaluation. What is “coalition culture”, what is military cultural knowledge, how can we approach NMI as a “mission formation” and how can one become more culturally adapt and thereby strengthen cooperation, coordination, training and advice? Through evaluation of experiences combined with newly acquired cultural insights, participants will strengthen their own cultural reflexivity and analytical awareness.


This course is designed as e-learning with synchronic and asynchronic sessions with hand-picked local and international experts, group work and practical exercises, such as case work featuring NMI realistic characteristics and scenarios. During the exercises, participants get hands-on training with some of the introduced theories and empirical insights. Lastly, participants will strengthen their ability to structure, write and present their newly acquired knowledge and findings in English.


While this course is specifically designed for NMI, it includes analytical abilities of more generic nature which can be applied with critical reflexivity in simililar environments.


If the course is attended by Danish as well as allied staff, the course language will be English. If allied staff attend, the exam language can be either Danish or English. If the course is filled by Danish staff only, the course and exam language will be Danish.



Please pencil in dates for synchronic sessions in your calendar!


PHASE 1 –The History, Politics and Culture of Iraq

Date, time Content/Theme Form
8. APR, 1230-1500 Kick-off Session: Intro Synchronic
12 APR – 18 APR The Saddam Era Asynchronic
19 APR – 25 APR Iraq after the Invasion: The Maliki Era Asynchronic
26 APR – 30 APR
29 APR, 1230-1500
Sect and Sectarianization
Round Table Discussions
17 MAY – 23 MAY Tribes Asynchronic
24 MAY – 30 MAY
26 MAY, 0900-1500
Security Sector Reform (SSR)
SSR Synchronic Session


PHASE 2 – Special Perspectives on Iraq – Webinar Series and Exercises

Date, time Content/Theme Form
31 MAY State-Society relations: new perspectives
Exercise: Group Work
1 JUN Group Exercises and Presentations Synchronic
2 JUN Security Sector Reform in NMI (TBD) Synchronic
3 JUN Anthropological Perspectives on Security in Iraq Synchronic


PHASE 3 – “Our Culture”: Mission Formations, Coalition Culture, Military Cultural Knowledge

Date, time Content/Theme Form
7 JUN – 20 JUN Our Culture 1: Coalition Culture Asynchronic
21 JUN – 2. JUL Our Culture 2: Military Cultural Knowledge Asynchronic
2 JUL, 0900-1300 Concluding Session: Experience and COE Synchronic
9 JUL Portfolio-exam deadline Asynchronic

Entry Requirements

Although this course is part of a Danish Master in Military Studies, we warmly welcome participants from allied armed forces - if we have space! Especially those deploying to NMI or similar missions.


Learning outcomes

After completing this course, you will have obtained the following knowledge, skills and competencies:



Knowledge of the current situation in Iraq. Knowledge of the culture as an operational enabler concept. Knowledge of the history, politics and culture of Iraq. Knowledge about concepts like state, sect and tribe. Knowledge about the Iraqi security apparatus. Knowledge about Security Sector Reform. Knowledge of theories about the interrelation between security, society and state in Iraq. Knowledge about Coalition Culture and Military Culture.


Skills and competencies

An ability to think analytically about culture and its relation to the military and Iraqi security apparatuses. An ability to use culture as an operational enabler. An ability to analyze empirical data within a theoretical framework about state, security and society. Enhanced skills to navigate complex coalition culture environments. A strengthened ability to communicate, write and present own analyses and findings to a wide range of professionals (military and civilian).


Teaching and study methods

This course is a e-learning course combining individual and collaborative distance learning with a limited number of intensive synchronic sessions, which combines lecture-style teaching with a high degree of participant involvement, group work and exercises.

You will be expected to put in about 10 hours of course work per week in the asynchronic learning periods.


Exam Regulations / Certification / Control

Exam type: written exam; developmental portfolio exam with introduction and concluding reflections. The portfolio can be developed throughout the course and synthesized during the last two weeks of the course with an introduction and concluding perspectives prior to submission.

Duration: progressive during the course, synthesis in the two weeks prior to submission.

Grading: Pass/Fail.

Control: internal



If you have questions or concerns, you may direct them to the course director: Thomas Vladimir Brønd, Assistant Professor, PhD:


MMS students
Allied forces

5 ECTS-point

11 weeks

External students:
7.000 DKK
A few vacancies exempt from fee available.

Royal Danish Defence College
Ryvangs allé 1
2100 Copenhagen

Assistant Professor Thomas Vladimir Brønd 
E-mail:,: 7281 7662 

MJ Allan Therkelsen

KTFM Sascha Hedberg
Tlf.: +45 72 81 70 82 



Sidst opdateret 10. marts, 2021 - Kl. 09.49

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