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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection draws from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within the Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Strategic Scouts for Strategic Corporals

Strategic Scouts for Strategic CorporalsWhen Army conventional forces deploy in roles requiring extensive personal contact with indigenous people, there is often little nuance or subtlety about it. The Army seeks to dominate every facet of conflict—as it should. During operations, we profess noble, righteous intentions based on our values and beliefs and assume that if indigenous people do not immediately support our efforts, they will in time. History demonstrates, however, that fallacies abound in this assumption. While planners might correctly assess negative local attitudes and opinions about operations, they have not been effective in weighing the strategic effects these factors have, nor have they suitably considered how initial local support can erode over time. We should consider why this happens and the role culture can play in such erosion. People in different cultures have values and beliefs unlike our own and do not see our principles as universal. We can see evidence of this in Army experiences in Vietnam, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship

Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious RelationshipOver the past two years, senior defense leaders have been calling for something unusual and unexpected—cultural knowledge of the adversary. Why has cultural knowledge suddenly become such an imperative? Primarily, because traditional methods of warfighting have proven inadequate both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. U.S. technology, training and doctrine designed to counter the Soviet threat are not designed for low-intensity counterinsurgency operations where civilians mingle freely with combatants in complex urban terrain. Countering the insurgency in Iraq requires cultural and social knowledge of the adversary. Yet, none of the elements of U.S. national power—diplomatic, military, intelligence, or economic—explicitly take adversary culture into account in the formation or execution of policy. This cultural knowledge gap has a simple cause—the almost total absence of anthropology knowledge and applications within the national-security establishment. Despite the fact that military applications of cultural knowledge might be distasteful to ethically inclined anthropologists, their assistance is necessary.


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War Policy, Public Support, and the Media

War Policy, Public Support, and the MediaPerhaps no element of the current conflict in Iraq engenders more emotion and acrimony within the military than debate concerning the role and influence of the news media on public opinion and national policy. Historically, contention over the issue of media influence has become particularly acute when the policies of the administration executing the conflict are perceived as being either too slow or failing to achieve their political objectives at the cost of mounting casualties. Under such circumstances, critics of the press have been predictable in accusing the media of editorial bias that undermines public support for military operations, while most reporters have been equally predictable in countering that they are just faithfully reporting what they observe. The best “information operations” campaign aimed at engendering domestic psychological support as well as demoralizing and defeating adversaries is an aggressive policy reflected in bold battlefield operations and commensurate administrative supporting actions to achieve clear and specific political and military objectives.


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Force Protection Lessons from Iraq

Force Protection Lessons from IraqThe U.S. military has sustained many casualties since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. Since the enemy chooses to remain formless, U.S. Soldiers are much more likely to capture good lessons and tactics that can be shared across units than the enemy is. For the enemy to remain hidden, he must also remain isolated. This precludes the free and easy exchange of information that will allow mastery of certain weapons and procedures. This ability to train and learn is an advantage the coalition has and should deny the enemy. Since the enemy in Iraq has elected to continue to fight rather than lay down his weapons, we must conclude that he currently views the situation unfavorably. Coalition commanders using defensive measures with nationbuilding and offensive capabilities wisely can keep the enemy off balance, remove havens for rest and training and force the enemy into more risky encounters. By forcing the war to escalate to conditions the enemy cannot match, the coalition will cause the enemy to engage and be destroyed or to capitulate.


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