Small Wars Journal

Revisiting Military Cultural Intelligence: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq

Sat, 04/16/2022 - 3:12pm

Revisiting Military Cultural Intelligence: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq

By Tomos Holmes Davies



The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has cost thousands of lives, displaced millions and presented a serious challenge for the international community. In this increasingly fraught geopolitical climate, NATO and its allies may be faced with additional threats. One of these is the proliferation of irregular war, and there have been calls for Western militaries to re-evaluate their approaches to irregular forms of conflict such as insurgency to prepare for the future.[1] Accordingly, this paper revisits military cultural intelligence, a capability that played a significant role in coalition counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Drawing on first-hand accounts of a small group of British and American military personnel, I reflect on three problems with the application of military cultural intelligence in these conflicts and discuss how it might be improved in the future. 

Military cultural intelligence involves gathering information about people in the theatre of operations.[2] In Afghanistan and Iraq, knowledge of local cultural norms, politics, societal structures, history and language was harnessed by the coalition to help regular units engage with the communities around them and reduce the need for kinetic action.[3] It was introduced into coalition strategy as part of the so called cultural ‘turn’, a theoretical shift in military doctrine towards winning ‘hearts and minds’.[4] It was codified in doctrinal manuals and applied in the field by cultural specialist units, notably the American Human Terrain System (HTS), and the British Defence Cultural Specialist Unit (DCSU). These units, composed of military reservists and civilian analysts, were deployed to help regular battalions navigate the socio-cultural complexities of their operational environments. This paper focuses on three problems with the application of military cultural intelligence. Firstly, it was never fully integrated into the British or American military structures, which made it difficult for cultural specialists to work alongside regular units on the ground and caused problems for regular officers who had little pre-deployment cultural intelligence training. Secondly, a lack of civil-military cooperation, particularly between military staff, government departments and the academic community, presented further obstacles for cultural specialists and officers. Thirdly, coalition military manuals contained some careless generalizations in the way they approached the subject of culture, which arguably blunted the effectiveness of the capability on the ground.

Since the retreat from Afghanistan in 2021 military cultural intelligence has not been widely discussed. Those who have revisited it suggest that it should not play a role in future preparation for irregular war and COIN. Tripodi, for example, argues that it was fundamentally a tool for manipulating local populations, and western doctrine must re-think the utility of knowledge in war.[5] Others have argued against it on a practical level, suggesting that no amount of cultural intelligence could have supported the coalition as the odds were already stacked too highly against them.[6] Criticisms have also been levelled at cultural intelligence on ethical grounds, echoing the American anthropologists who saw it as a lethal tool that betrayed their professional code of conduct by facilitating targeted killings.[7] This paper does not dismiss these perspectives. Indeed, there were significant shortcomings, including questions around ethics, that require attention. However, these shortcomings do not mean the capability should be cast aside. NATO may end up woefully unprepared if this framework for engaging with the local population in COIN operations has been abandoned and forgotten. Cultural understanding is of paramount importance for the military in COIN and irregular operations. This point is made eloquently by Simpson. As an infantry officer in Afghanistan, he recognized that his decisions on the ground might be perceived in a variety of ways by the local people, and it was important to have an adequate level of cultural awareness to understand why they held these perceptions.[8] Furthermore, as the firsthand accounts of the interview respondents demonstrate, there still seems to be a keen interest in discussing non-lethal methods of COIN and avoiding excessive destruction with conventional force.

There are some final points to address before discussing the three problems. In terms of the primary materials in this study, a series of semi-formal interviews were held during research for a master’s dissertation in 2020, between March and June 2020. Five former British Army and Territorial Army officers, one Royal Navy officer and an American cultural intelligence analyst were interviewed. Ethical clearance was obtained, and the respondents have been anonymized, with only their ranks mentioned. A table of limited information about the respondents has been included in figure 1. Regarding terminology, it is important to justify the choice of the term ‘cultural intelligence’ for this study. There is a range of alternatives, such as ‘human terrain’ or ‘cultural terrain’, used by senior coalition commanders including David Petraeus and Ray Odierno to describe the cultural environment of Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, ‘cultural quotient’ has appeared in US military journals to describe how small regular units can interact effectively with civilians.[9] I have elected to use ‘cultural intelligence’ because it elegantly combines these different elements. On a structural note, readers may also notice a lack of diversity in the nationalities of the respondents. It was unfortunate not to be able to interview more US military personnel, nevertheless, most of the British officers I spoke with worked with the US military on many occasions during their careers and made insightful, balanced comments on their approaches. The decision to study both the Americans and British in the same paper might also seem confusing to readers, considering there were some differences in the approaches of the two nations. here were enough similarities that it would not be unreasonable to approach both coalition partners in one paper. Furthermore, this is not a comparative study, but an attempt to learn from the errors that both militaries made.

fig 1
Figure 1 – Table to Show Profiles of the Interview Respondents: March-June 2020


Prior Integration


The first problem with military cultural intelligence is that it was not fully integrated throughout the whole military structure, in either the British or American militaries. This may be surprising considering that the British Army had a long history of counterinsurgency campaigns including Northern Ireland and Malaya.[10] Furthermore, securing the support of the local people and winning ‘hearts and minds’ had been a central tenet of American efforts in the initial stages of the Vietnam War.[11] However, in Afghanistan and Iraq, regular units were deployed in the two countries with little prior cultural intelligence training, and the capability was largely left in the hands of the specialist units. This meant that regular officers struggled to contend with complex socio-cultural surroundings. Also, the specialist units faced difficulties working alongside regular units, which blunted their ability to operate effectively on the ground.

The effects of little to no pre-deployment cultural intelligence training were felt acutely by the officers. Respondent 1, a Lieutenant-General with extensive peacekeeping experience in Bosnia, was frustrated at the situation in Iraq. ‘When I was in command’, he recalled, ‘I had scientific advisors, intelligence advisors and political advisors, but no cultural advisor.’[12] Respondent 3, an infantry Major who served in Afghanistan in 2010, also experienced problems. He recalled being invited into meetings (shuras) with local elders, and negotiating with almost no prior training to interpret unfamiliar expressions and behavioural patterns of the Afghans.[13] Although he received surface-level intelligence, such as the identity of the attendees at the shura and instructions of the equipment his troops were permitted to bring, there were no instructions for comporting himself during the meetings or responding effectively to the locals to ascertain what their priorities really were. Instead, he had to rely purely on his intuition. Some officers also revealed that the military seemed to fill gaps in pre-deployment cultural intelligence training with temporary solutions. This was something respondent 2 experienced as a Royal Naval officer serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Afghanistan. While patrolled with a regular army unit in Kabul, distributing sweets and gifts to local civilians, he had his side arm confiscated to prevent him or any senior staff officers acting impulsively, as they had not been trained to act in such an unfamiliar socio-cultural environment.[14] 

            Because cultural intelligence was not a familiar capability among regular troops, the specialist units struggled to work alongside them. Again, despite many officers praising the units, there was a general feeling of suspicion and disapproval, and this was felt acutely by HTS. Established in 2006 by TRADOC at Fort Leavenworth, this American unit was deployed across Iraq and Afghanistan in thirty-three separate teams composed mainly of civilian social scientists.[15] These teams were embedded with regular units to provide cultural knowledge to regimental officers, who could make decisions based on a better knowledge of the population. The unit was received positively in many corners of the military, at least in the initial stages of the war. However, the hasty introduction of this unit alongside the mainstream military exacerbated vast cultural differences between academic social scientists and the regular soldiers. McFate, one of the founders of the unit, suggests that this wide cultural gulf affected the ability of the unit to function properly.[16] On one side of this divide was the soldiers, trained to make rapid decisions in high-pressure situations, and on the other were academics, trained to study a range of interpretations over a gradual, methodical process.[17] Many civilian personnel in HTS struggled to ‘overcome their own individualism’, and were treated by the regular units as outsiders who did not understand military culture.[18] Furthermore, many HTS teams began changing the nature of their work to adapt to the operational requirements of the regular units.[19] Instead of detailed intelligence gathering, ethnographic analysis and interviews, many teams resorted to human terrain mapping. This involved simply identifying where certain communities resided, before leaving the battalion commander to decide how to engage with them.[20]

The respondents were clear that the solution to this problem lay in improving levels of cultural intelligence throughout the whole military, offering regular officers and men considerably better pre-deployment training. Respondent 4, an intelligence officer, argued ‘you cannot brigade cultural awareness. It must be embedded properly in the whole military’.[21] Respondent 1 also believed there had been a fundamental error in leaving cultural intelligence as the sole responsibility of specialist units, and stated that ‘cultural intelligence units should be implemented in the overall military structure.’[22] Respondent 3 went further to argue that cultural intelligence should not be an ‘add-on battalion’, but needed to be ‘engrained at the level of decision-making leaders and senior officers.’[23] Respondent 2 believed that ‘it should be mandatory for the officer training corps to receive a good cultural education’.[24] He suggested ‘we absolutely need cultural units, but we also need a better-educated military.’[25]


Civil-Military Relations


Another problem for the capability was poor civil military relations. Military staff, government departments and the academic community did not collaborate to ensure that military cultural intelligence could achieve effective results in the field. This is exemplified by academic opposition to the Human Terrain System, and negligible British government support for DCSU and for cultural intelligence more generally. Civil-military relations in liberal democracies are highly complex and the US and UK are prime examples of where this ‘strained covenant’, as described by Sir Richard Dannatt, comes into play.[26] However, cultural intelligence depended highly on successful civil-military collaboration, and problems in this respect caused major obstacles.

In December 2009, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) commissioned an assessment of the activities of the Human Terrain System. The result was a 72-page document highlighting what they viewed as some major flaws in the work of the unit.[27] The AAA concluded that HTS was breaking the ethical code followed by anthropologists, which stated that subjects under study must never be brought to harm.[28] Many of the key advocates in the Association took issue with how members of their own profession had enlisted in HTS, and they accused them of aiding lethal military operations. Sahlins, Gusterson and Lutz denounced American cultural intelligence as an initiative involving ‘culturally-illiterate’ American troops supported by ‘second-rate mercenary academics.’[29] These authors did not recognize that HTS was facing considerable cultural problems of its own, struggling to work alongside regular units who had side-lined them, and their criticisms were very damaging to the credibility of the unit. The attacks of the Association triggered major debates in the US, and the ethical ‘controversies’ of HTS made national news.[30] Respondent 7, a cultural analyst in HTS, recalled that their criticism became particularly vehement and personal.

“When they [the AAA] looked at HTS they simply saw a bunch of guys with guns. Their minds were completely closed…their attacks were broad and personal and meant to harm, which was strange considering their ethical code of conduct.”[31]

As for British cultural intelligence efforts, academic opposition seems to have been far less than in the American case. Indeed, the development of the British Army Field Manual 1-10 involved a team of military officers and academics, and strong ties are maintained between the military and the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and the Changing Character of War Institute at Oxford. However, several officers I interviewed complained of a lack of government support being particularly damaging for cultural intelligence efforts. This manifested in different ways. Firstly, there was very little awareness about the cultural intelligence abilities that the United Kingdom could bring to bear at the start of the conflict, and the DCSU encountered great difficulties at its inception, having to contend with a myriad of government teams on the ground in Afghanistan and having to fight for attention and support. Respondent 2 described how there were multiple government departments operating in Afghanistan in ‘private fiefdoms’ with competing aims. He said candidly:

‘This is how institutions operate alongside each other It is a complete illusion that they cooperate smoothly.[32]

Respondent 5, a young officer who played a key role in developing DCSU, struggled to navigate this environment during his deployment in Afghanistan. He claimed that there were ‘numerous [coalition] organizations fighting each other’, and that on occasions he had to ‘beg, borrow and steal’ resources from different government departments. He even recounted that the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence challenged him when he began working to establish the unit.[33] When I asked why there was such hostility, he said those departments believed his unit was infringing on their territory by carrying out work that they expected to take responsibility for.[34]

Some respondents also complained that there had been a complete lack of awareness about the poor state of cultural intelligence capabilities in the British Army at the outset of the interventions. Respondent 6, an archaeologist and Middle Eastern expert, who served with the Territorial Army in Iraq, recalled that there had once been ‘major forums’ for discussing different cultures around the world, such as the Royal Central Asian Society.[35] Here, people from a variety of professions, including the government, academia and military, converged to discuss complex cultural issues concerning that region. However, as he illustrated, many of these institutions had been scrapped or suffered major budgetary cuts, and the government and military did not coordinate to address this issue.[36] Respondent 6 referred to this as a ‘systemic failure’.[37]

This problem strongly suggests that far better civil-military coordination is needed for the capability to work effectively. The respondents all agreed. Respondent 6 suggested the military should establish a parliamentary lobby for the review of cultural intelligence, and to form a comprehensive working plan for government-military collaboration.[38] Respondent 3 suggested a solution to bridge the gulf between the military and academic community was to foster greater collaboration in peacetime:

‘Holding symposiums, wargames, simulations, and demographics studies is very important. We must work in peacetime to build up knowledge of different cultural regions.’[39]


The last problem is how cultural intelligence was included in military doctrine. Doctrine is defined as the principles through which the military guides its actions in support of national objectives.[40] In Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a strong emphasis on cultural intelligence in the American Counterinsurgency Field Manual FM 3-24, and the British Army Field Manual, AFM 1-10. These manuals were defining features of the cultural ‘turn’, where coalition forces recognized the importance of winning ‘hearts and minds’ in COIN operations. However, there were significant generalizations in the manuals, which discredited this new theoretical shift and arguably led to regular officers resorting to simplistic, surface-level solutions on the ground.

The American Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24, authored by David Petraeus and James Amos, was published in December 2006. In October 2009 the British AFM 1-10 followed, published by a team of military officers and academics including Strachan, Farrell, and Betz. Writing MCI into military doctrine was undoubtedly a herculean undertaking. In FM 3-24, Amos and Petraeus establish how culture is important for ‘gaining assistance and support’ from the local population, and that counterinsurgents should be aware of ‘beliefs, values and norms’ that unite a community. They illustrate the importance of using HTS or ‘green cell’ operatives (an admixture of local civilians or government advisors) to furnish regular units with local knowledge.[41] In AFM 1-10, there is a strong focus on ‘the psychological dimension’ of COIN, discussing the importance of cultural knowledge for ‘gaining and maintaining popular support’.[42] Despite many these logical and detailed principles, both manuals contained some problematic generalisations that did not sufficiently tackle the complex nature of culture. The American doctrine also contained links to controversial material that only attracted negative criticism. Porter explains how there was a reliance on many colonial or culturally ‘essentialist’ works, such as Orientalist Raphael Patai’s 1973 work, the Arab Mind, in the US military curriculum.[43] According to Porter, Patai ‘...casts Arabs all the way from Algeria to Saudi Arabia as a monolithic people.’ Patai was also challenged by Edward Said, who claimed that he had ‘eradicate[d] the plurality of differences among Arabs.’[44] Another flaw Porter identifies in US doctrine is complete oversight of cultural hybridity, the notion that Iraqis and Afghans were isolated in their own bubble, inherently separate from the West. Porter challenges this with examples such as Ubayd al-Qurashi, an Islamist strategist who took inspiration from Robert Taber’s work, The War of the Flea.[45]

As for AFM 1-10, there are several references to Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence, the British intelligence officer and archaeologist who played a pivotal role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in the First World War.[46] An excellent strategist, Lawrence nevertheless characterised Arabs as ‘a limited, narrow-minded people, whose intellects lay fallow in incongruous resignation.’[47] The officers views of this were mixed, with some viewing the historical British legacy of cultural intelligence gathering as a positive influence. However, they did believe that there were essentialist strains in doctrine that encouraged British troops to view the operational environment through a narrow, western-centric lens. According to respondent 3, this created a situation where the Iraqi and Afghan people ‘consciously saw what [our] biases were and used them against us.’[48]

There are also indications that simplistic approaches in doctrine translated into simple solutions on the ground. According to respondent 2, there was a tendency to revert to efficiency and brevity in situations that required a careful interpretation of cultural differences. The naval officer recounted:

‘The Americans found it difficult to deal with other cultures because they operated according to a PowerPoint culture…the idea that they could encapsulate complex cultural issues in three bullet points…’.[49]

An indication of this ‘PowerPoint culture’ coming into play is where General Petraeus attempted to reduce sectarian violence in key towns and cities in Iraq during the troop surge in 2007. As Rosen illustrates, the coalition forces offered short term solutions to more complex problems that better cultural intelligence would have helped to avoid.  Respondent 1 also drew a link between simplistic approaches in doctrine and the coalition strategy in the Anbar Awakening, where Petraeus attempted to secure the support of powerful Sunni tribal leaders in central Iraq. He claimed, ‘understanding the real difference between the Sunni and Shia might have made Petraeus hesitate before he rushed into an alliance with them.’[50] Again, Rosen supports this view, explaining how many of the young men in the province that the Americans tried to recruit into neighbourhood security roles had complex allegiances. These sometimes included Al-Qaeda affiliates that were busy targeting coalition troops.[51]

Finding a solution to these doctrinal challenges would not be an easy task, as a shift in intellectual beliefs is required, not just structural reorganization. Nevertheless, the respondents offered some diverse remedies. Respondent 4, the officer in the intelligence corps, also had a background in anthropology. He offered a radical solution: adopting the academic methods like poststructuralism in military doctrine. This French intellectual movement, which gained traction with anthropologists and social scientists in the 1960s, emphasized the plurality and open-endedness of meaning.[52] As McFate explained, the normal routine of the military involves pragmatism and efficiency, and so this sounded like a rather radical doctrinal framework to propose. However, respondent 4 believed that it might just hold the answer for how cultural intelligence is written into military doctrine.

‘It is important that commanders have the right lexicon, who know about the importance of cultural symbols and markers – all the tropes that are used in cultural anthropology. I don’t remember having conversations with anyone who considered these research methods, but these could help cultural specialists gather evidence that people have faith in.’[53] 




            This paper studied three shortcomings with the application of military cultural intelligence in Afghanistan and Iraq and discussed potential remedies for the future. As the interviews with a small group of senior military personnel revealed, a better working model for military cultural intelligence should include pre-deployment cultural training for officers and other ranks, so that the capability is integrated throughout the entire military structure. It should also be honed and developed through effective communication between the military, academics, and government departments. Finally, a revision of how cultural intelligence is written into British and American counterinsurgency doctrine is required, with a focus on how controversial historical knowledge might be included in a more critical fashion, exploring alternative research methods that allow for a deeper engagement with cultural understanding, as well as efficient military solutions. As things stand today, there is still work to be done in these directions. In the US, interest in cultural intelligence has largely trailed off in academic literature, apart from a few thorough insight pieces on how to preserve the ‘cultural quotient’ of a unit operating on unfamiliar soil. A version of HTS also lingers on but with substantially less funding or attention than it received in Afghanistan and Iraq.[54] In the UK, it is yet to be seen whether the DCSU even has a future as the proposals of the 2021 Integrated Review continue to take shape. There have also been few civil-military discussions about the capability in both nations, and the parliamentary lobby that respondent 6 envisaged has yet to be set up. This is regrettable, but hopefully further discussions will act as a first step for future changes.


There are several reasons why it is important to reflect on capabilities like cultural intelligence, and why we should view Afghanistan and Iraq as opportunities for learning valuable lessons, rather than arguments for invalidating a potentially useful capability. Firstly, we cannot say with certainty that the West will never become embroiled in major overseas COIN operations in the future. Indeed, respondent 3, the Major who had served in Afghanistan, warned:

‘I would bet money that we go into similar conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan in the future…Governments do not get elected based on wanting to fight a war. They can happen unexpectedly… Junior officers have been told countless times that war will end, and that governments don’t have the stomach for it. But it will come along again.’[55]

 In this new atmosphere of heightened geopolitical tension, we may witness an increase in military activity in parts of the world where the strategic interests of NATO and its rivals collide. Furthermore, discussing military cultural intelligence means we do not lose sight of how to conduct counterinsurgency in less lethal ways. It is important that western militaries continue to discuss how to engage with the local people in the theatre of operations, rather than dismissing the capability on the grounds of operational difficulties and resorting to the worse alternative of using greater aggressive and lethal force to eliminate insurgents, and wreaking collateral havoc in the process.


[1] Christian Tripodi, ‘Will Culture Defeat Strategy? The British Military and Irregular Warfare After Afghanistan and Iraq’, Modern War Institute at West Point, November 5, 2021.

[2] Lawrence Cline, ‘From Cultural Intelligence to Cultural Understanding: A Modest Proposal’, Small Wars Journal, 20 April, 2017.

[3] Emily Spencer, ‘It’s All About the People: Cultural Intelligence (CQ) as a Force Multiplier in the Contemporary Operating Environment’, Journal of Conflict Studies, 29, January 4, 2009.

[4] Martin Clemis, ‘The “Cultural Turn” in U.S. Counterinsurgency Operations: Doctrine, Application and Criticism’, Army History, 74, Winter, 2010. p.22.

[5] Christian Tripodi, The Unknown Enemy: Counterinsurgency and the Illusion of Control (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020),

[6] Glen Rangwala, ‘Counter-insurgency amid Fragmentation: The British in Southern Iraq’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 32, 3. 

[7] Kurt Jacobsen, ‘Are we there just to help the army aim better?’, The Guardian, May 13, 2008,

[8] Emile Simpson, War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First-Century Combat as Politics (Oxford University Press, 2012)

[9] James Long, ‘What’s your CQ? How to Develop “Cultural Intelligence” in the US Military’, Modern War Institute at West Point, November 9, 2019.

[10] Paul Dixon, ‘Hearts and Minds’? British Counter-Insurgency from Malaya to Iraq’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 2, No. 3, 26 June, 2009.

[11] Jeffrey Record, Andrew Terrill, ‘Iraq and Vietnam: Differences, Similarities and Insights’, United States Army War College Press, 5 January, 2004.

[12] Respondent 1, interview.

[13] Respondent 3, interview.

[14] Respondent 2, interview.

[15] Clifton Green, ‘Turnaround: The Untold Story of the Human Terrain System’, Joint Force Quarterly, 78, July 1, 2015.

[16] Respondent 7, interview. 

[17] Montgomery McFate, Janice Lawrence, Social Science Goes to War: The Human Terrain System in Iraq and Afghanistan (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015)

[18] Ryan Evans, 'The Seven Deadly Sins of the Human Terrain System: An Insider’s Perspective’, War on the Rocks, 13 July, 2015.

[19] Evans, ‘Sins’, 2015.

[20] Evans, ‘Sins’ 2015.

[21] Respondent 4, interview. 

[22] Respondent 1, interview.

[23] Respondent 3, interview.

[24] Respondent 2, interview.

[25] Respondent 2, interview.

[26] Anthony Forster, ‘The Military Covenant and British Civil-Military Relations’, Armed Forces and Society, 38, 2 (April, 2012).  

[27] ‘CEAUSSIC Releases Final Report on Army HTS Program’, accessed April 13, 2022,

[28] ‘AAA Ethics Forum: Principles of Professional Responsibility’, accessed April 13, 2022,

[29] Network of Concerned Anthropologists (NCA), ‘The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual: Or, Notes on De-Militarising American Society’ (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009).

[30] Christopher Sims, ‘Academics in Foxholes: The Life and Death pf the Human Terrain System’, Foreign Policy, February 4, 2016, accessed on April 13, 2022,

[31] Respondent 7, interview. 

[32] Respondent 2, interview. 

[33] Respondent 5, interview.

[34] Respondent 5, interview.

[35] Respondent 6, interview.

[36] Respondent 6, interview.

[37] Respondent 6, interview.

[38] Respondent 6, interview.

[39] Respondent 3, interview.

[40] ‘RAND Topics: Military Doctrine’, accessed April 13, 2022,

[41] David Petraeus, James Amos, Counterinsurgency Field Manual, FM 3-24, Chapter 4 – ‘Culture’ (2006).

[42] British Army Field Manual 1-10: Countering Insurgency (2009).

[43] Patrick Porter, Military Orientalism: Eastern War Through Western Eyes (Oxford University Press, 2014).

[44] Edward Said, Orientalism (Penguin Books, London, 2003).

[45] Porter, Military Orientalism, 2014.

[46] Thomas Edward Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1997).

[47] Lawrence, Seven Pillars (1997).

[48] Respondent 3, interview.

[49] Respondent 2, interview.

[50] Respondent 1, interview. 

[51] Nir Rosen, The Myth of the Surge, Rolling Stone, February 28, 2008.

[52] Andrea Hurst, ‘Poststructuralism’, Oxford Bibliographies, accessed April 12, 2022:

[53] Respondent 4, interview.

[54] Tripodi, The Unknown Enemy (2021).

[55] Respondent 3, interview.

About the Author(s)

Tomos Holmes Davies is a paralegal in maritime and international commercial law. He takes a keen interest in military history and contemporary conflict. He holds a BA in History from the University of Bristol, an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from Cambridge, and an MA in War Studies from King’s College London.