Lesser victories: a study of the Philippine Constabulary and Haitian Gendarmerie
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Determining what constitutes the proper role and characteristics of a constabulary has received renewed interest in recent years as the international community increasingly involves itself in peace and stability operations. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has further stimulated discussion over how foreign powers should go about establishing security institutions within a host nation, particularly in one as turbulent as Iraq. Recent events in both Iraq and Afghanistan have made clear the importance of indigenous police forces, or constabularies, to pacification and state-building operations. Effective constabularies can perform the key role of separating insurgents from the population and giving substance and legitimacy to federal and local government. This thesis examines two U.S.-organized paramilitaries: the Philippine Constabulary (1901-1917) and the Haitian Gendarmerie (1916-1934). It argues that in both the Philippines and Haiti, the constabularies became armies, and the instruments of autocratic rule, because American military officers allowed the militarization of the police forces to become institutionalized without also establishing normative constraints on the use of military power. The thesis contends that American military authorities undermined the constabularies’ suitability for enforcing civil law by aggressively developing their military capabilities to meet the challenges of fighting violent insurgencies. Both organizations generalized their pragmatic responses to immediate circumstances without considering the long term implications for them as institutions. The historical experience of the Constabulary and Gendarmerie testify to the real temptation for leaders to stretch an organization beyond its mandate or capabilities by focusing on success and victory over purpose and the ends for which the organization exists.
Mihara, Robert Yoshio (2007). Lesser victories: a study of the Philippine Constabulary and Haitian Gendarmerie. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from