Reading for War

United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Recommended Reading List for Military Experts on Mission - 2020

By Michael Scott March 12, 2020

The purpose of this article is to release the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Recommended Reading List for Military Experts on Mission – 2020 to a wider audience.

The intended audience is those Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers who have been selected for, or may develop an interest in, operational service as a military observer with UNTSO. Merit may also exist for ADF officers selected for, or serving with, Multi-National Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Egypt.

Listed book titles contain a chronology of fault lines within the Levant and the broader region from antiquity to the present day. The author recommends The Lemon Tree, Jerusalem and A Line in the Sand be read first to set the scene for the seismic shifts prior to and following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Other titles document the region’s modern wars and provide context to peace treaties and armistice agreements which endure to this day. Many of the books have utility in applications wider than UNTSO and may provide the inquisitive reader with tools which assist them to increase knowledge, improve understanding and expand potential. Silos, Politics and Turf Wars provides insight into why some work places succeed while others fail. Frankl’s masterpiece Man’s Search for Meaning provides wisdom and verities of profound utility. Carnegie’s timeless How to Win Friends & Influence People provides a framework and methodology of equal benefit for one’s professional and personal pursuits.

All titles are available in hard copy, e-book and, most importantly for the author of this article, audiobook form.

Since the release of the UNTSO Recommended Reading List for Military Experts on Mission – 2020, serving UNTSO officers have emailed through a bow-wave of other book titles they, in turn, recommend. The broad intent is that an UNTSO Recommended Reading List will be released annually to help establish and embed a professional development culture within UNTSO.

About the Mission

Set up in May 1948, UNTSO was the first ever peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations. Since then, UNTSO military observers (Military Experts on Mission) have remained in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region to fulfil their respective mandates.

The UNTSO area of operations comprises Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Australia has contributed peacekeepers to UNTSO since 1956 and Australian military personnel can be assigned to observation posts, liaison offices and patrol bases throughout the UNTSO area of operations or as Headquarters Staff in Jerusalem. UNTSO comprises 153 commissioned officers from rank Captain (Equivalent) to Major General. These officers are drawn from 27 Troop Contributing Countries and from all continents (sans Antarctica). Officers are selected from Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Forces and operate together in small teams. There are significant intangible opportunities for the alert ADF officer to establish friendships and learn from non-traditional defence partners they may not otherwise ever meet in their military career.

The Military are but one component of UNTSO, which also comprises a skilled team of United Nations civilians—local nationals and international staff—who provide a variety of specialist functions, including, in headquarters, mission support, security and as language assistants on patrol.

Operation PALADIN is the ADF contribution to UNTSO. The current ADF contingent comprises 12 officers from the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force.

The usual period of service for ADF officers with UNTSO is 12 months.



Michael Scott

Colonel Michael Scott took command of the UNTSO Military Pillar when he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) on 23rd July 2019. On 22 October 2019, Colonel Scott has assumed all military responsibilities in the absence of the Head of Mission / Chief of Staff, Major General Lund. At the time of writing, a new Head of Mission / Chief of Staff has not yet been appointed.

Colonel Scott’s appointment as DCOS UNTSO is for a period of two years.

Colonel Scott’s early regimental appointments were in 2nd Cavalry Regiment and 1st Armoured Regiment. Over the period 2010 – 2011, Colonel Scott commanded B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment. Over the period 2016 – 2017, he commanded the Warrant Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy. Colonel Scott has served in East Timor, Bougainville, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is interested in mentoring and continual improvement, international relations, foreign policy, innovation and history. In his spare time, Colonel Scott enjoys training for and competing in endurance triathlon events. In training, he is often found sporting blue tooth headphones with an audiobook.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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