Academic journal article Military Review

Response to Maj. Ben Connable's "Human Terrain System Is Dead, Long Live ... What"

Academic journal article Military Review

Response to Maj. Ben Connable's "Human Terrain System Is Dead, Long Live ... What"

Article excerpt

As a veteran of both the Human Terrain System (Forward Operating Base Salerno, AF 2008) and the Army's now also defunct Culture and Foreign Language Program (Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning 2010-12), I was glad to see Dr. Connable's conclusions concerning the need for organic cultural competence within the Army.

Current serving officers and enlisted men have a wealth of cultural knowledge, but the Army lacks a coherent structure and strategy to build cultural competence in new soldiers and a structure in which culturally competent operators can enhance our efforts around the world.

Culture is not only useful at the asymmetric warfare level and the conventional level but throughout the range of military operations and at the national strategic level also. To quote the demigod Clausewitz,

The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and Commander have to make is to establish ... the kind of war on which they are embarking: neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive.

Without a serious holistic understanding of a particular situation including cultural considerations, decision-makers will commit disastrous errors on a strategic scale, just as a squad leader can make everyone's situation worse by insulting indigenous peoples. …

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