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Military Masculinities and Honorary Men: A Comparative Analysis of United States and United Kingdom Approaches to Iraq Security Sector Reform

The 2003 Iraq War marked the first time the United States and United Kingdom deployed gender-specific units in support of active combat operations. As manifestations of changing gendered norms within American and British defense institutions, these Team Lioness units became symbolic of defense transitions to a more diverse fighting force for the future. Following the Iraq War, the United States and United Kingdom were authorized as governing entities over the post-conflict Security Sector Reform process. Responsible for reconstructing Iraqi defense institutions, Coalition US-UK forces focused reconstruction efforts on addressing the immediate security needs of the country. To this end, prior feminist literature has criticized the lack of formalized gender-inclusive policies in such post-conflict spheres given the prominence of Team Lioness units during the war itself. Such debates, however, ignore the broader consideration of how gender impacts post-conflict reconstruction. More specifically, there remains the question of how United States and United Kingdom defense institutions perform gender and to what extent such normative cultures impacted Security Sector Reform efforts in post-conflict Iraq. Thus, utilizing a Feminist Institutionalism theoretical perspective, this research will investigate the militarized masculinities of US and UK fighting forces embodied within defense behaviors and policies. Based on a qualitative descriptive analysis of United States and United Kingdom Women, Peace, and Security legislation, alongside interviews with five former gender advisors and servicemembers, this research investigates how gendered normative patterns can help explain American and British approaches to post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq.