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    Entries in Observing war (1)


    Obseving War @ Conway Hall, Holborn - 9th May

    Aernout Van Lynden began his career as a newspaper correspondent , with a bit of radio on the side. In 1979, while working for the Hague-based Haagsche Current, he was one of the only Western journalists in Iraq when Sadam invaded Iran. In 1982, Aernout reported from Beirut for The Observer, covering the start of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict.

    His next destination was Afghanistan, where he bravely accompanied the Mujahideen on raids against the Soviet and Afghan Armies. During this time, Van Lynden reported to The Washington Post and sent occasional radio dispatches to the BBC.

    From 1989 onwards, Aernout worked as a television correspondent for Sky News. He is clear that he was never a solo 'video journalist' but always worked with the backing of a full crew, an editor and usually a local producer.

    Aernout started at Sky as a news anchor, but soon became the channel’s senior foreign affairs correspondent. He continued to report on events in Lebanon and Afghanistan, but also covered the Romanian revolution in 1989, the 1990-91 Gulf war, and the Yugoslav conflict. Horrified by the desecration he saw in and around Sarajevo, Aernout produced a series of powerful dispatches exposing the principally Serbian atrocities. For this he received two international awards.

    There is never complete closure to work such as this, and in 2010 Aernout testified as an expert witness in the ongoing trial of Slobodan Milosevic's accomplice, Radovan Karadzic, with whom he had held conversations at the heat of the Bosnian conflict. At that time, he also interviewed the recently-detained Ratko Mladic.

    From 2002-8 Aernout lectured on print and television journalism at the American University in Bulgaria, where he was the head of the department of journalism and mass communication. He played himself in the film Behind Enemy Lines.

    Dr. Mark de Rond is a social anthropologist; he is an expert in how people organise themselves in difficult situations and he studies this by living among them under the same conditions.

    Mark spent a year training with the Cambridge boat crew and wrote a book about his experiences entitled The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boatrace Crew.

    His studies of teamwork have won him a host of awards and he is currently a Reader in Strategy & Organisation at the Cambridge Judge Business School as well as a fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge.   

    His expertise is highly sought-after in the business world and he has consulted many predigious companies, including IBM, McKinsey,'s a list as long as your arm. He has lectured in ESSEC business school in Paris, and in Oxford University; he has written books about the psychological considerations involved in strategy.

    Tonight, Mark will discuss a more sober difficult situation. He recently spent six weeks shadowing the British surgeons in Camp Bastion in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He saw 174 casualties arrive, and observed 23 amputations and 134 hours of operating. His work tries to get to the heart of the astonishing teamwork he saw, but also to highlight the psychological dangers of such work. One of them, he recently told CNN, is boredom – the moments when there is nothing to do. (Boredom, he argues is a danger for any organisation – having 'nothing worthwhile to do')

    Mark is interested in the solutions too. How do the surgeons, or other people in high-pressure environments, defend themselves against these pressures?