Small Wars Journal

Culture Warriors

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Culture Warriors:

Marine Corps Organizational Culture and Adaptation to Cultural Terrain

by Maj Ben Connable

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As Soldiers and Marines began returning from Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003, a grass roots debate erupted over the ability of our military to operate amongst indigenous cultures. Lessons learned in irregular warfare campaigns dating back to the early 20th Century had not been sufficiently institutionalized to prevent our troops from making thousands of grievous cultural errors in the Global War on Terror, or the "Long War." The services responded to this critical failure with a deluge of cultural and language programs. The Marine Corps, with a rich tradition of cultural study and decades of experience fighting at the outreaches of the American empire, is well suited to take the lead in developing and institutionalizing the kinds of military cultural competencies required to achieve victory in the Long War.

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