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How the Army Can Capitalize on Technologically Savvy Troops
by Nick M. Masellis, Small Wars Journal
Upon arriving in Iraq as a stout 18 year old in March 2003, I was well-versed in the tactics associated with being a Military Police (MP) soldier. I knew how to respond to ambushes and perform evasive maneuvers if caught in a skirmish. I could instantaneously react to any potential nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. And I knew the Rules of Engagement directed by the Army through and through.
Yet, I had no knowledge of Islam nor understood the difference between Shi'a, Sunnis and Kurds. I couldn't explain the significance of the twin mosques in Karbala. I had no idea that showing the heel of your shoe is considered to be very offensive in the Arab culture. The culture shock was indescribable. This not only made the task of providing local security and training to Iraqi police more difficult, but also inadvertently added to the growing resentment of the American presence. By now, the service men and women of the US military are privy to being on the ground. In lieu of the shifting strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, I wonder how better prepared and culturally competent the average soldier marine and sailor is today, than when I was on the ground nearly six years ago?