View Full Version : Training the Military for the “Long War”: Is It Possible?

04-04-2007, 08:04 AM
3 April Family Security Matters - Training the Military for the “Long War”: Is It Possible? (http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/global.php?id=858074) by Col. Jeff Bearor (USMC Ret.).

... The military is increasingly focusing on “soft” skills, means, and methods. This includes a greater use and understanding of cultural factors, foreign languages, and the social sciences of anthropology and ethnography. The enemy has chosen to fight us in wars amongst the people. Therefore the “terrain” of this fight is human and cultural rather than just physical terrain. If soldiers and Marines aren’t as adept in the cultural terrain as they are on the physical terrain, they can’t win the current fight.

Each of the services has established specific capabilities to understand better the human factors of this war. Each provides enhanced training and education to better prepare service men and women for success. There is a small cadre of noted cultural anthropologists supporting this effort. They call themselves the “MilAnts” for military anthropologists. The facts prove that the more adept our forces are at operating with and among foreign peoples and cultures - rather than as total outsiders with no or little consideration for local customs, traditions, and social dynamics - the better for us all. This fight is about more than just killing the bad guys, it is about helping to spread democracy and setting conditions for a better life in those countries where we are engaged.

In addition to a better understanding of foreign cultures and languages, the military is increasing capabilities to win across the spectrum of “non-kinetic” operations, including the sphere of information. Let’s face it, our strategic communications and information campaigns have been a total bust! We don’t understand the target audience, we don’t know what resonates and what doesn’t, and we have not effectively used our vast potential to influence public perceptions in foreign cultures. The great good we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan and in places like the Horn of Africa has not been articulated adequately around the world. The impact we’ve had in helping countries like Indonesia after the Tsunami and in Pakistan after the earthquakes has been quickly overshadowed by our enemies’ ability to use their intimate knowledge about the audience to their advantage and our disadvantage. The services are working quickly to catch up while incorporating more reliable information operations into the fight.

The military brings a vast array of capabilities to “SSTR” operations (Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations). The Army in particular can provide a huge amount of logistic and engineering help. But it’s in other government organizations, the so-called “interagency”, where the vast majority of the expertise lies to build and rebuild nations. While the armed forces are honing their capabilities to deliver basic services and increase capabilities to perform SSTR Ops, the interagency has been a near “no-show” in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 4 years. It’s only now that much of the federal bureaucracy is starting to provide the help desperately needed by the military to re-build in Iraq. I hope it’s not too late.

While many in the Pentagon and the services have recognized the need for change, it’s a balancing act. How to retain conventional war-winning capabilities and at the same time increase capability to fight and win irregular or “hybrid war” is the current big challenge across the armed forces...

Note: Col Bearor is currently dual-hatted as the Director of the Marine Corps' Center For Advanced Operational Culture Learning (http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/caocl/) and the new Irregular Warfare Center at Quantico.

04-04-2007, 01:56 PM
Just a quick comment on that term - it's the name of a Yahoo network that is keeping a fairly low profile within the discipline. About half of the 144 members are Anthropologists (including me). It was started in 2003, and has some very good people in it.


04-04-2007, 07:18 PM
This is absolutely possible (and I mean all the way down to the E-1) if it is shown to be in the Marine/Solider/Sailor's best interests to understand. We have kids who are writing code but can't tell you the first thing about the structure of the United States government. If it is relevant they will eat it up.

No one wants to die in Iraq. More importantly, not one 18-28 yr old over there wants to be responsible for losing the war. If cultural insensitivities are equated with mission failure and the "Whys" are satisfactorily answered as to "Why we need to understand them" and "Why this could save my life" it would go a long way in shifting the balance of this combat aspect (and it is combat... with bits, bytes and batteries, make no mistake) in our favor. We may be wearing the same uniforms of our fathers but we ASK SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS and the measure of how onboard inside we are, is directly related to how well our questions are answered. Outwardly there is and always will be instant, willing obedience; the service member will obey but wouldn't it be better if Private So and So understood and AGREED with the WHYS?

No better friend, no worse enemy. Make the message apply to the man and you will win him over. Win him over and you will find that the average Marine and Soldier is just as trained, just as adept at making friends as they are enemies. We spend our first eighteen years learning how to get along, and the next four learning how not to get along. Go back to what they know, (don't worry these kids are killers, they won't go soft on you) and you will win your war of the messages.

04-04-2007, 07:27 PM
Think of the possibilities if our soldiers adopted the same social strategies in Iraq as they used in highschool:
1. In the context of the game, if it moves, flatten it.
2. If you can get a piece, exploit it.
3. Getting a piece takes work.
4. Make as many friends as you can.
5. Isolate your enemies.
6. If it swings, swings back.
7. Swing and you will be swung upon.
8. If it hugs, hug back.
9. Offering hugs, renders more.
10. Coach knows best.

Like it or not this is where their head is at. Exploit that.

04-09-2007, 11:49 AM
Think of the possibilities if our soldiers adopted the same social strategies in Iraq as they used in highschool:
4. Make as many friends as you can.
Like it or not this is where their head is at. Exploit that.

There was this rogue Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) up in Senegal who stayed on in country after his 'official' 2 tours were up and was technically an illegal alien in Senegal and officially was not considered a PCV any longer. Anyway, this guy had fostered a couple of income generating projects (IGP)for several villages that were successful and had made some major headway into the problem of infant mortality via a rehydration program. Babies/toddlers would get diarrhea from bad water, dehydrate and die.

His ticket to success was B-B-Qs. He sponsored the first one, which was small, and the money was donated to logistics needed for a target IGP. I recall him saying he bought and cooked a dozen chickens, charged a minimal amount. He was a guitar picker and provided some live entertainment as well. This first one was to test the waters and it worked. They collectively bought a goat for the next one and they had several more B-B-Qs. These events raised much needed money for the IGPs but more importantly established a medium of cultural exchange and bond of trust. The people were able to literally buy into his expertise.

If CAP units are in operation in Iraq, and I presume they are, this would be a good strategy for cultural exchange/trust/friendship. Myself, I would goat-nap 2-3 goats from a hostile village, get a halal butcher to make the meat acceptable to Islamic standards, get some of the men to jury-rig a big grill, brew up some spicey b-b-q sauce, charge a small admission fee and provide some form of live entertainment. I would mimic what that rogue PCV did in Senegal and buy some books for a school or medical supplies for a clinic. Direct purchase/supply of goods greatly reduces the chance of corruption and suspicion that accompanies the transfer of cash.

04-09-2007, 12:17 PM
In my last post, I alluded to providing live entertainment for B-B-Qs for CAP units. The concept was: good food, at a decent price, with live entertainment = trust, cultural exchange and some income for needed projects.

My instincts tell me the Iraqis would be greatly entertained with a game of Horse sponsored by the troops. You know the drill - 'horse' and rider square off with another team, whoever pulls/shoves the opposing rider down wins the match. If you want to get sophisticated, give each team an Arabic name like Thunder or Lightning or Strong Wind or Raging Fire, have the rider wear the name of his team on his back, annonce them and let them have at it. The losing team of a match then has to wear a sign that says in Arabic " Old Women". The unit itself could have some kind of reward for the grand champion team.

Equally significant would be the message such events send to the jihadis. As you well know, an enemy that can let down his guard and have some fun with the people he is trying to liberate is winning.