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Changing the Culture

What is it?
The Army is engaged in warfare “among the people” and must adapt its thinking to recognize and understand the dynamics of the global security environment to effectively operate in unfamiliar circumstances. The complex interaction among 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 the current and future complex operating environments.

What has the Army done?
The routine observation and reporting of patterns and changes in the operating environment through interaction with the local populace are ES2 tasks that are now incorporated into Army doctrine. This includes initial entry training, collective training at Army combat training centers, and most recently add-on software into the globally popular video game “America’s Army.”

The Army Intelligence Center has established a culture center and deploys mobile training teams (MTT) to promote cultural awareness and training tailored to unit and mission needs. Additionally, the Defense Language Institute and Foreign Language Center has established training programs and “outreach” initiatives. These initiatives include language MTTs, “survival kits” for deploying forces, web-based global language on-line support system 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, Kansas 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. These teams will anticipate and account for the cultural perceptions of adversaries and others actors, and conduct independent and unbiased critical reviews and analyses.

The Army continues to embed HTTs with Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide commanders with a broader and more diverse contextual 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 their complex operating environment. They provide relevant research in support of staff planning and operations as well as utilizing reach back capability to collaborate with analysts at U.S. based reach back research centers.

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 teams to existing force structure at every echelon of command from the BCT to Army headquarters.

Why is this important to the Army?
The Army is engaged in combat “among the people.” Success in stability and counter-insurgency operations requires detailed nuanced contextual understanding of complex cultural and historical “human dimension” dynamics. These ongoing Army programs are an effort to change the culture by capitalizing on Soldier observations and critical reasoning skills and then applying them for optimal effect.

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