About the International Commission of Military History
The International Commission of Military History (ICMH) promotes military history research, publication and education on a global basis. The intellectual focus of the ICMH is on the history of the conduct of warfare and the history of armed forces which engage in war. The ICMH also investigates the causes and effects of war, defence economics, civil-military relations, military technology, military leadership, and demographics of military forces.
The ICMH strives to be a platform for the exchange of ideas by and for military historians. The ICMH is an organization of many commissions, in which the military historians of the various member states are represented. These national commissions are the foundation and strength of the ICMH. Each of these national commissions is self-governing and some commissions sponsor military history activities within its own nation.
The ICMH maintains three standing committees on bibliography, archives and education, whose work offers key information and contacts to all ICMH members.
The ICMH endeavours to achieve its objectives in the following ways:
- By organising seminars and conferences. In the early years, the international conferences were only held once every five years, coinciding with the ICHS conferences. During the Cold War, the need for more opportunities for exchanging and developing ideas led to the frequency of the conferences being stepped up. Military history conferences have been held annually since 1980. The organisation of these conferences is the responsibility of the national commissions. In addition to panels with formal papers, the ICMH sponsors roundtable discussions, museum and site visits, graduate student workshops, book displays and social receptions.
- By publishing the selected papers presented at the annual military history conferences. To date, there have been 37 conference Acta, some of which are in several volumes. The Acta are a source of military history scholarship.
- By producing the International Review of Military History, each issue of which is intended to increase readers’ familiarity with the military history of particular countries or regions. The first Review issue was published in Paris in 1939, and there have been 90 Review s published since. Recent years have also seen editions on particular themes such as ‘recruitment in the armed forces’ and ‘airpower’, with contributions by military historians from many various countries.
- By producing the International Journal of Military History and Historiography (since 1978), an important tool for researching information on new publications available and accessible to the military history community. Since its first publication, thirty-two volumes of the multilingual Bibliography have been published in book form under the responsibility of the Bibliography Committee. The publication of this important tool for military historians was entrusted to Brill Publishers (Boston/Leiden) in 2010 and in the future it will also be published as IJMH On Line.
- By promoting consultation and debate among military archivists and military historians during the annual history conferences. The activities undertaken by the Military Archives Committee have led, inter alia, to the annual publication of the Mars & Janus newsletter.
- By sharing best practices in the field of military history education and promoting the exchange of curricula and reference works. The Educational Committee also facilitates a round table of young PhD scholars at the annual military history conferences.
The ICMH Board aims to increase the number of national commissions and thus to extend the organization’s footprint. At the most profound level, however, the value of the ICMH lies in the personal relations developed by the individual members and their shared sense of purpose and common values, especially in promoting the integrity of the historical study of military affairs. These relations and values often transcend national perspectives and thus contribute to greater international understanding and intellectual collaboration.
Massimo de Leonardis
President of the International Commission of Military History