Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency

Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency

Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency

Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency

Excerpt

A diverse mixture of war fighters, cultural experts, anthropologists, government officials, and strategic analysts first convened in March 2009 at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, to discuss the impact culture has on both conflict behavior and counterinsurgency environments. The Naval Postgraduate School’s Program for Culture and Conflict Studies hosted this “enlightening conference aimed at exploring the importance of culture and its role in conflicts around the globe,” which marked the starting point for our two-year study of culture, conflict, and counterinsurgency. As part of this study, experts have provided their analysis of cultural dynamics in a variety of conflict environments and historical contexts. These studies focus not only on the current war zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s northwest frontier, and Iraq but also on past hot spots like Ireland and Vietnam and one very cold spot: the circumpolar Arctic region. As we reported in 2009, “Understanding the importance of culture in conflict has prompted many government agencies and the military to attempt to create specialists dedicated to the analysis of human terrain dimensions of the battle space,” several of whom presented analyses at our conference. “International experts in modeling techniques provided additional insight into their methodology and the application of cultural modeling by using insurgent movements in Iraq and Afghanistan as case studies.”

The key objectives of this project were to assess and debate the following questions: Is cultural understanding important, or is it merely a fad of the day? Where and how is culture important in a national security and foreign policy context? What frameworks and narratives should be used to analyze . . .

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