Organizational cultures in military organizations consist of symbols, practices, habits, hidden assumptions, and beliefs about what needs to be done, and what is appropriate and what is not, before, during, and after operations. Generally speaking, organizational cultures in military institutions are similar to those in any other work organization. Upon closer examination, however, it appears that the military’s 24/7, communal life outside society, its emphasis on hierarchy and discipline, and in particular its license to use large-scale force make it different. Relatedly, the way in which the military’s organizational cultures are created and recreated has aspects and emphases that are less common in conventional work organizations. Recruiting and socialization patterns of new organizational members in the military have been studied frequently because they are so distinctive in the armed forces. Military organizational cultures are not identical worldwide. Military organizations differ internationally, as military organizations are still strongly connected to their national backgrounds, including the languages, legal regimes, political atmospheres, and general ways of living in the many nations across the globe. National societies and their histories shape military organizational cultures in multiple ways. Dramatic experiences at the national level, for instance during World War II, may lead to a continuation or, just the opposite, the disruption of armed forces’ organizational cultures. Yet despite the differences, something of a world culture impacting on the use of force seems to emerge as well. In an era when international alliances carry out most missions, different national backgrounds influence strategic decision making and the way operations are conducted. Most of the time, national armed forces operate separately, in their own area (or time) of operations, sometimes guiding troops from smaller and less wealthy partnering nations. The coordination of actions between the various areas of operation is generally not very well elaborated. This applies not only to combat operations but also to peace missions. A full integration of national armed forces, such as in a United Nations security force or a European army, is an ideal that some may dream of, but it is still far from reality. The greatest degree of integration is likely to be found in international headquarters.
The Honduran military has a long history of established roles oriented toward both external defense and internal security and civic action. Since the end of military rule in 1982, the military has remained a key political, economic, and social actor. Politically, the military retains a constitutional mandate as guarantor of the political system and enforcer of electoral rules. Economically, its officers direct state enterprises and manage a massive pension fund obscured from public audit. Socially, the military takes on numerous civic action tasks—building infrastructure, conserving forests, providing healthcare, and policing crime—that make the state appear to be useful to its people and bring the military into direct contact with the public almost daily. As a result, the military has ranked high in public trust in comparison with other institutions of the state. Most significantly, the military has retained the role of arbiter in the Honduran political system. This became brutally clear in the coup of 2009 that removed the elected president, Manuel Zelaya. Although new rules enhancing civilian control of the military had been instituted during the 1990s, the military’s authority in politics was restored through the coup that ousted Zelaya. As no civilian politician can succeed without support for and from the military, the missions of the armed forces have expanded substantially so that the military is an “all-purpose” institution within a remarkably weak and increasingly corrupt state.
French civil–military relations are usually described as an example of subordination of the military command to political authorities. This subordination is the legacy of the mutual distrust inherited from the “events” in Algeria and, more specifically, the coups in Algiers in 1958 and 1961 that gave birth to the current Fifth Republic. With the end of the Cold War, civil–military relations have rebalanced to the benefit of general officers because of the increasingly technical nature of external interventions and the consolidation of interprofessional relations with diplomats and industrial networks, facilitating the return of some officers into decision-making circuits. After this functional reintegration, the antiterrorist framing, both outside of the country (Opération Serval in January 2013 in Mali) and within France’s borders (Opération Sentinelle , which followed the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris), seems to recast the military as the forge of the national community. The evolution of the political uses of the military forces in France shows how ambivalent the antiterrorist resources are in the contemporary civil–military game.