Summary: Enloe investigates the way in which ethnicity and the military coincide. She questions the assumption that the state serves as a primary agent of modernization because it breaks down ethnic identities and replaces them with loyalties and identifications based on the nation-state. Instead, issues of ethnicity permeate the state and are important to decision making elites. Looking at the constitution of the military, Enloe discusses how it was historically normal for states to create ethnically homogenous military units which were then used to patrol areas far from their original homeland. She calls these cases ‘marital races.’ Things have changed somewhat in the contemporary setting, as it has become desirous to have ethnically heterogeneous militaries. This becomes an issue for elites, as they worry about granting weapons and training to ‘untrusted or incompetent’ groups. The domination of militaries by elites and ‘safe’ ethnic groups thus remains a source of conflict in many states. The conclusion being that ethnicity, while operating differently than the pre-colonial situation, is still a major concern for elites in modern states.
Important Insight: Ethnicity is important within the arrangement of modern militaries. Also, while elites may manipulate ethnicity for political ends, what emerges from Enloe’s analysis is the fact that ethnicity acts as a limiting factor in state security planning.