Improvise, adapt and fail to overcome? Capacity building, culture and exogenous change in Sierra Leone - Dr Alex Neads

Military capacity building (MCB) is as problematic as it is ubiquitous, with the British experience in Sierra Leone providing a rare example of ostensible success. This article critiques the dominant conceptualisation of MCB as purely a principal–agent (PA) problem, using military change scholarship to examine the impact of wartime British intervention on the Sierra Leonean armed forces. Here, indigenous military change was both externally driven and fundamentally adaptive in nature, allowing MCB to bypass some of the difficulties predicted by PA models. However, this adaptive approach nonetheless failed to reconcile Western military values with prevailing Sierra Leonean culture, complicating post-war stabilisation efforts.