In a panel study on the effect of deployment on soldier motivation, Lotte Bøgh Andersen and I showed that deployment to war seems to weaken soldiers’ compassion for others. Although dehumanisation of the enemy may be a necessary part of the socialisation to war, our study showed that deployed soldiers did not only dehumanise one particular group of others. Instead, they seemed to lose compassion towards all other groups: Afghan civilians as well as civilian compatriots; Afghan troops as well as fellow soldiers back home. Here, I pursue these quantitative findings qualitatively. Thus, through in-depth analysis of a personal interview with one of the soldiers whose empathetic motivation dropped most remarkably, I try to conduct a second, qualitative theory testing of the above-mentioned finding. The paper aims at contributing to the literatures on soldier motivation, military culture and the re-integration of servicemen into society.
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the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, 2013