Culture Wars: Irregular Warfare, Culture Policy, and Adaptation in the Marine Corps

Culture Wars: Irregular Warfare, Culture Policy, and Adaptation in the Marine Corps

Culture Wars: Irregular Warfare, Culture Policy, and Adaptation in the Marine Corps

Culture Wars: Irregular Warfare, Culture Policy, and Adaptation in the Marine Corps

Synopsis

In response to the irregular warfare challenges facing the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005, General James Mattis-then commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command-established a new Marine Corps cultural initiative. The goal was simple: teach Marines to interact successfully with the local population in areas of conflict. The implications, however, were anything but simple: transform an elite military culture founded on the principles of "locate, close with, and destroy the enemy" into a "culturally savvy" Marine Corps.

Culture in Conflict: Irregular Warfare, Culture Policy, and the Marine Corps examines the conflicted trajectory of the Marine Corps' efforts to institute a radical culture policy into a military organization that is structured and trained to fight conventional wars. More importantly, however, it is a compelling book about America's shifting military identity in a new world of unconventional warfare.

Excerpt

Late on a dry dusty October afternoon, the Marines of 4th cag (civil affairs group) came to a slight rise on the Somali plains. For the past six months the company had been conducting civil affairs and humanitarian aid operations across the Horn of Africa (HOA)—building schools, clinics, wells, and roads and inoculating animals—in order to foster economic and political stability in the region. Their task had been anything but simple: as part of a hoa Joint Task Force, a total of forty-five civil affairs Marines, along with a handful of engineers, medics, and veterinarians, were expected to cover an area almost two-thirds the size of the continental United States in a region of hundreds of different languages, cultures, and warring ethnic groups.

On the other side of the rise they could see the village of Mahmadiyya. the agriculturally based settlement had been suffering a drought for the past five years. in writing his after action report about the operation, the task force commander Colonel Franklin (pseudonym) described the village’s povertystricken situation, “The only source of water [was] a stinkin’ muddy river, full of crocodiles and filth, about two miles from the people.” the unit’s first response was, as the commander noted, “to get the well drillers in there, go down about 600’ and provide free water to all who wanted it.”

Colonel Franklin quickly realized, however, that this was a “bad move. About 10 percent of the population makes their meager living hauling water . . .

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