why are child soldiers so associated with recent African revolutions in particular?


cant really seem to find a definite answer… why does the use of child soldiers seem so widespread specifically in certain recent African conflicts vs revolutions anywhere else or earlier in time? In addition how did this practice become so popular/widespread in the first place??

In: 2

Cheap and easy to indoctrinate. They are expendable, you give them a new life and they quickly embrace it. They in some ways are more willing to endure shit for shitty reasons because they don’t know much different. Especially get them drunk and give drugs when possible will help ruin them for the gain of an insurgency. Local warlords take over a couple villages, it’s going to be much harder to get a 20 year old who hates you to support you than it is an 8 year old, even if you just killed his/her parents.

Beasts of no nation is an interesting but dark movie about it.

You see it in SE Asia as well, mostly ending around the time frame of pol pot (one of the worst people in history largely unknown to a lot of the world) and kind of surprisingly not as much the Middle East but it still happens.

Children have been in the military for as long as there have been militaries – after all, why not? They were normally not used as frontline combatants, though, instead filling support roles, but this was more because being small and weak was a major disadvantage in hand-to-hand combat, as well as using hand-powered ranged weapons like bows, crossbows, and slings. Even then, boys (almost always boys and not girls) could serve as things like standard-bearers, drummers, buglers, order-runners, etcs.

The introduction of firearms made it much easier for children to serve as effective combatants. An effective front-line soldier no longer needed to be able to hold a spear and brace for a charge, but instead to hold and steady a rifle. Militaries of developed countries regularly turned a blind eye to boys of 15 and 16 enlisting, and in desperate times, not a few 10 years olds – though again, mostly in supporting roles at the very young end.

The introduction of assault rifles made it much easier, physically, for children to be effective soldiers. Modern assault rifles are smaller, lighter, and have less recoil than the “full-powered” rifles of WWII and earlier. I can and have seen 8 year old girls effectively shooting an AR-15 (very similar to the standard rifle of the US military), which they could definitely not do with something like a M1 Garand (the US standard rifle in WWII).

Now that children are physically capable of being effective soldiers, there’s lots of advantages to them: they’re much easier to control, both being they’re easier to indoctrinate and because it’s easier for you to intimidate them, they’re cheaper to feed and clothe, they’re easier to transport and house…there’s disadvantages, too, of course, but the control and logistical advantages are great.

So now all that you really need to use them is the correct social and legal environment, which is provided by countries with a weak government, poor social order, and years or decades of unrest and civil war!

In addition to Africa, other places to see extensive use of young children in war include El Salvador during its civil war, both sides of the Iran-Iraq war, Cambodia during its civil war and genocide (tip: children are *great* at killing civilians because their moral codes haven’t been fully developed yet), Sri Lanka during their civil war with the Tamil Tigers, Chechnya during the Chechen war, and the Balkans during their civil war. Notice that with a single exception, these were all years-long civil wars, and the Iran-Iraq War was also a very long war, with strongly ideological states on both sides. Iran-Iraq is an outlier war in several ways, including use of chemical weapons, incredibly extensive use of land mines, and any number of other horrifying aspects.