Cultural knowledge and cultural change are – on various levels – of significant importance for modern Western warfare. What does this mean for strategy?
Arab Cultural Manifestations in the Iraqi Army SWJED Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:11am
Underpinnings of ethnic, religious, tribal, and demographic factors as well as their associated social identities remain a recurrent player in Iraqi politics and has affected the building of the Iraqi Army over the past 16 years. Researching Iraqi culture, social identities and their historical context is paramount to understanding the challenges the U.S. has faced in its efforts to train, equip, and advise the Iraqi Army. Independent thinking, creative ideas, information sharing, individual initiative, decentralized control, delegation of responsibility, and personal merit are all keys to success in U.S. military doctrine but contradict Iraqi sociocultural norms of centralized power, groupthink, and avoiding shame, embarrassment, and admission of mistakes. Training, equipping, and advising Arab militaries to follow Western military doctrine has had a history of at best mediocre results and rarely outlives the departure of Western advisors. U.S. capacity building doctrine in Iraq did not adjust to take into account Iraqi culture, instead it expected the Iraqi military to adapt to American military doctrine.
Military professionals need to be cognizant of language on both a macro level (translation issues) and a micro level (within one’s native language) because it affects perception in international conflict.
About the Author(s)
This essay addresses solutions for how the Army can strengthen its landpower in terms of the comprehensible understanding and awareness of the human dimension of the environment.