Boredom, Fragmentation, and the US Army in Eastern Europe

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Remi M. Hajjar
Morten G. Ender


This article examines a forward-deployed US Army unit in Eastern Europe. Drawing from military sociology, the theoretical framework used to study this unit focused primarily on factors of boredom and the fragmentation model of organizational culture. The methodological approach was mixed, including interviews and participant and non-participant observations of the deployed soldiers and military civilians. The research explored unit members’ perceptions about unit leadership, quality of life, communication with loved ones, the mission, work roles, interactions with the local foreign military and civilians, and unit diversity. The findings contribute to a nuanced understanding of the relationship between military boredom and fragmentation. Overall, we found some ambiguity regarding some parts of soldiers’ lives—including an unclear understanding regarding the nature of the mission. The study also found low to moderate levels of boredom across five domains: underutilization, cultural deprivation, lack of privacy, isolation, and time and space reorientation. Although in most cases the level of boredom related to perceived ambiguity (less boredom usually meant less perceived ambiguity), in some cases an inverse relationship was identified. We conclude that future studies should determine whether our findings apply to newer forward-deployed contexts in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

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