U.S Military: Cultural Awareness
Congressional and military leaders have directed improvement in cultural awareness training throughout the Department of Defense. However there are severe challenges, especially in an era of limited resources, transformation and combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Research shows that cultural decisions may not always achieve their desired effect; many bad decisions are a result of cultural ignorance. This article showed several ways to improve cultural awareness in the military using military personnel, civilian experts, or a combination of both. However, there are challenges. One of the challenges for example, cultural experts suggests that the use of civilian anthropologists might achieve the desired effect of understanding, yet anthropologists must overcome a history of mistrust with the military that might hinder participation. The Army, for example, has directed cultural awareness studies at several military schools and courses, to include the Army War College, although this will require significant resources. Whatever the method, the most we can accomplish is to develop a basic knowledge of foreign cultures without ethnocentric views, so that planners and decision makers will understand and consider religious, tribal, or family interactions within foreign societies. Cultural Chauvinism would be costly and hinder all hopes of understanding measures. Greater awareness a society's culture might have may prevent or mitigate the length and cost of current and future conflicts. It is hard to imagine the U.S. engaged in its second counterinsurgency (COIN) operation in less than 30 years. It seems improbable that after the hard lessons of Vietnam that any western nation would find itself in an endless conflict in a foreign environment. Part of the reason why the Army has found itself less than ready for this war goes back to the Army's unwillingness to internalize the lessons of Vietnam. The Former Army Vice Chief of...
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