Research Articles

Exploring Morale in an Active Warzone: A Study of the Predictors of Morale During Deployment to Afghanistan



Soldiers’ morale is an important determinant for the success of military operations. However, the military morale literature lacks studies that rely on a theoretical background, use comparative data from pre-deployment periods, or specify the factors that affect morale during deployment. This article aims to provide a theoretically-informed analysis of aspects understood to influence the morale of Danish soldiers during deployment in an active warzone. We use an explorative approach to investigate the main determinants of morale in a deployed unit using the following eight factors: cohesion, esprit de corps, leadership, shared purpose/common goal, resilience, preparedness and training, discipline and working conditions. The theoretical background provided by van ‘t Wout and van Dyk provides a multidimensional focus on morale, focusing on cohesion, leadership, discipline, purpose, and work environment. The data were obtained from questionnaires given to the soldiers in the Danish battlegroup prior to and during deployment in the southern part of Afghanistan in 2007; 423 were included in the study. Our results indicate that leadership, cohesion and common purpose are the three most important determinants of forming the perception of morale.


MoraleMilitaryLeadershipCohesionPurposeEsprit de corpsdiscipline
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 267–279
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.100
  • Submitted on 2 Feb 2021
  • Accepted on 24 Nov 2021
  • Published on 29 Dec 2021
  • Peer Reviewed