Fighting flu: securitization and the military role in combating influenza

Christopher Watterson, Adam Kamradt-Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The growing trend toward the securitization of infectious disease has legitimated a role for national militaries in responding to public health crises. This apparent militarization of health has met with resistance from the health and security sectors alike, who argue that it risks politicizing health outcomes while also draining limited military resources. This article attempts to place such concerns within the broader historical context of military involvement in public health. With specific reference to pandemic influenzaa disease of great historical import and a current policy priority in the context of securitized global public healththis article details the pedigree of military involvement in fighting the disease and draws on the established record to demonstrate the role that militaries can play in improving public health outcomes. The article argues for an ongoing military role in the global fight against pandemic influenza, both in augmenting civil influenza programs and in improving their own preparation and response mechanisms for future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-168
Number of pages24
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • pandemic influenza
  • military health
  • defense planning
  • military history

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