Information Papers

Changing the Culture

What is it?
The complex interaction between populations, technology, governments, military forces, and external actors is underpinned by culture and the physical environment. “Every Soldier is a Sensor” (ES2), Cultural Awareness/Language Training, Human Terrain Teams (HTT), and Red Teaming are wartime readiness imperatives and key to adapting traditional military processes and thinking to current and future complex operating environments.

What is the Army doing now?
The routine observation and reporting of patterns and changes in the operating environment through interaction with the local populace are ES2 tasks which have been incorporated in Army Doctrine, all Initial Entry Training, collective training at Army Combat Training Centers, and most recently have been added to the “America’s Army” video game.

In line with this, the Army Intelligence Center (USAIC) has established a Culture Center and deploys Mobile Training Teams (MTT) to promote cultural awareness and training tailored to unit/mission needs. Additionally, the Defense Language Institute and Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) has established training programs and “outreach” initiatives. These include language MTTs, “survival kits” for deploying forces, web-based Global Language On-line Support System (GLOSS) instruction (currently 12 target languages) and commercial language training technologies to sustain and enhance perishable language skills.

The University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth runs three high quality “Red Team” training courses to develop critical thinking and non-traditional analytical skills aimed at identifying dependencies, unintended effects, vulnerabilities, and mitigating strategies. Red Teams will aid staffs during planning and operations by identifying potential weaknesses, vulnerabilities and unseen opportunities, anticipate and account for the cultural perceptions of adversaries and others, and conduct independent and unbiased critical reviews and analyses.

The Army is embedding HTTs with BCTs which are deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to provide a broader and more diverse understanding of the local populace and tribal networks. These HTTs are comprised of five personnel, including two social science PhDs (Cultural Anthropologists). The HTT serves as the BCT commander’s embedded cultural advisor who helps him and his staff to understand the “human terrain” dimension of complex operating environments. They provide operationally-relevant research in support of staff planning and operations as well as utilizing “reach back” capability.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue to integrate cultural and language lessons learned and feedback from operational theaters into our training at institutional, home station, and combat training centers. The Army continues to institutionalize the concept of Red Teaming by adding Red Teams to existing force structure to every echelon of command from the Brigade Combat Team through Army headquarters. Finally, the Army HTT efforts are informing USD (I) and DIA planning to extend the HTT concept for Combatant Command use.

Why is this important to the Army?
Success in stability and counterinsurgency (COIN) operations requires detailed understanding of complex cultural and historical “human dimension” dynamics. Ongoing Army programs capitalize on Soldier observations and reasoning skills and develop them for optimal battlefield effect.