Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder


Major — International Relations

Minor — Quantitative Methods

Elizabeth’s scholarship draws on more than a decade of foreign policy experience to challenge fundamental assertions in international relations about the nature of national power. Her research examines the composition of modern militaries, covert action, and interstate and intrastate conflict, and has been published in International Security. Elizabeth’s teaching background includes courses on insurgency, the modern Middle East, and contemporary West Africa. Elizabeth’s book project explains the calculus that has led modern states to recruit soldiers who are neither subjects nor citizens of the government they serve—foreign legionnaires. She beings by presenting an original dataset of legionnaire enlistment policies that states have implemented between 1815 and 2020. Drawing on government records in multiple languages, Elizabeth show how these policies have influenced modern history’s major wars and spanned the globe.

Her book project then details and tests a theory that explains why governments choose to supplement their citizen troops with legionnaires. She explains that this calculus is a function of how a state perceives its vulnerability to defeat, as shaped by two variables: the severity of external threats that it perceives, and the degree to which the government faces political costs in mobilizing additional citizen soldiers. Elizabeth uses archival evidence to present four case studies that test this argument across the full range of its independent and dependent variable values: Angola (1974-76), Germany (1935-45), India (1962-64), and the United States (1861-64). She concludes with congruence tests of her argument across cases of 21 st century legionnaire recruitment, and provides a roadmap for a new line of research.

IR Security, Covert Action, Military Recruitment

  • Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder, “Leaning on Legionnaires: Why Modern States Recruit Foreign Soldiers,”
  • International Security, Vol. 46, No. 1 (July 2021), pp. 147–195. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec_a_00411.
  • Ph.D. Political Science, George Washington University, 2020
  • M.A. Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 2009
  • B.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 2007