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Recycled Bricks: Exploring Opportunities to Reintegrate Returning American Foreign Fighters Using Existing Models

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Foreign fighters have been engaged in conflicts for hundreds of years, but the sheer number of foreign fighters who travel to Iraq and Syria during the last five years is unprecedented. The United States is not sure what to do with American ex-foreign fighters who leave their group and want to return to the States and peacefully reintegrate back into society, since currently there is no reintegration program for ex-foreign fighters. This thesis explores how the United States can develop an ex-foreign fighter reintegration strategy using existing, analogous models. This study identifies two groups that possess similar characteristics to foreign fighters U.S. street gangs and the U.S. military. Utilizing the conceptual frameworks of street gangs and the military, the conceptual life-cycle of foreign fighters is detailed to ascertain the practicality of developing a foreign-fighter reintegration program utilizing the existing reintegration programs of street gangs and the military. Based on the findings that foreign fighters, street gang members, and formerly deployed service members are very similar, I recommend the development of a multidisciplinary reintegration program for retuning ex-foreign fighters using specific aspects of each previously referenced reintegration program.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Law

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