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Military Cultural

Colonel Maxie McFarland, U.S. Army, Retired

O VER THE PAST decade the Army has in-

creasingly engaged in lengthy overseas de-
ployments in which mission performance demanded
populations. The risks over differing or competing
cultural norms were too great to overcome.
Cultural friction is certainly a more complex is-
significant interface with indigenous populations. sue today than it was in the past. During the Cold
Such interaction and how it affects military opera- War a bias existed on the part of nations wishing to
tions is important. In fact, engagement with local align themselves with either the East or the West.
populaces has become so crucial that mission suc- Siding with one or the other was necessary in a bi-
cess is often significantly affected by soldiers’ abil- polar world in which the major powers’ ideology
ity to interact with local individuals and communi- competed through aligned or nonaligned states. Na-
ties. Learning to interact with local populaces tions sought identity by becoming more like the Big
presents a major challenge for soldiers, leaders, and Brother of their choice.
civilians. The end of the Cold War forced a new paradigm
Lengthy deployments to areas with other cultures on prevailing ideas of national identity. States, indi-
are not new. The Army has experienced many long- viduals, and societies felt free to reconnect with their
lasting operations on foreign soil since the end of own cultural and social norms. In addition, U.S. and
World War II. For most long-distance operations, the Western economic and cultural values overshad-
Army attempts to instill in deployed forces an aware- owed societies based on more traditional or religious
ness of societal and cultural norms for the regions values. This basic competition of cultural norms re-
in which they operate. While these programs have sulted in a retreat from western values in many re-
proven useful, they fall far short of generating the gions of the world, becoming a source of friction
tactile understanding necessary for today’s complex rather than a means of achieving common under-
settings, especially when values and norms are so standing.
divergent they clash. The emerging importance of cultural identity and
Working with diverse cultures in their home ele- its inherent frictions make it imperative for soldiers
ment is more a matter of finesse, diplomacy, and and leaders—military and civilian—to understand
communication than the direct application of coer- societal and cultural norms of populaces in which
cive power. Success demands an understanding of they operate and function. They must appreciate,
individual, community, and societal normative pat- understand, and respect those norms and use them
terns as they relate to the tasks soldiers perform and as tools for shaping operations and the effects they
the environment in which they are performed. Cul- expect to achieve.
tural education is now necessary as part of soldier
and leader development programs. Defining “Culture”
During the Persian Gulf War, the United States The first step in any problem is defining it. Defin-
demonstrated awareness of cultural issues and how ing “culture” usually consists of describing origins,
they affected military operations. The potential for values, roles, and material items associated with a
friction and a clash between ideas, behaviors, val- particular group of people. Such definitions refer to
ues, and norms led to adjusting paradigms for cul- evaluative standards, such as norms or values, and
tural engagement. For example, the significant dif- cognitive standards, such as rules or models defin-
ferences between U.S. and Saudi Arabian cultures ing what entities and actors exist in a system and
caused active isolation of U.S.troops from native how they operate and interrelate.1

62 March - April 2005 z MILITARY REVIEW


Everyone has a culture that shapes how they see in an adversarial relationship.
others, the world, and themselves. Like an iceberg, Culturally literate soldiers understand and appre-
some aspects of culture are visible; others are be- ciate their own beliefs, behaviors, values, and norms
neath the surface. Invisible aspects influence and but they are also aware of how their perspectives
cause visible ones. might affect other cultures’ views. Achieving self-
Ethnography, a qualitative research method an- awareness of our own cultural assumptions enables
thropologists use to describe a culture, attempts to us to use this understanding in relations with others.
fully describe a cultural group’s various aspects and Cultural competency, which is more than just a
norms in an attempt to understand the group. The framework for individual interaction, is necessary for
intent behind military cultural education is to help sol- managing group, organizational, or community cross
diers be more effective in the environments in which or mixed cultural activities and demands a more in-
they must function. They must be culturally literate depth and application-oriented understanding of cul-
and develop cultural expertise in specific areas and ture than cultural literacy requires. Competency is
regions. When balanced with study in potential demonstrated through organizational leadership ca-
areas of application, proficiency in cultural literacy pable of crossing cultural divides within organizations
and competency aids understanding of cultural fac- and establishing cooperative frameworks between
tors in areas of operations. communities and groups from different cultures.
Competency is about building successful teams with
Cultural Literacy and Competency a common vision, effective communications, and
Cultural background is one of the primary sources acceptable processes that benefit from cultural di-
of our self-definition, expression, and relationships versity.
within groups and communities. When we experi- Military leaders are trained to make decisions rap-
ence a new cultural environment, we are likely to idly with little time available for discussion, debate,
experience conflict between our own cultural pre- or consideration of dissenting views. Events involv-
dispositions and the values, beliefs, and opinions of ing potential destruction or violence demand one-
the host culture.”2 Cultures often experience alter- minute managers or leaders, but doing so entails rap-
ations in cultural identity, which might create signifi- idly obtaining key facts and essential information,
cant insecurity in both interacting cultures, calling into internal processing, and then choosing and imple-
question identity, and in values, which might result menting an appropriate course of action (COA).

Culturally literate soldiers–

z Understand that culture affects their behavior and trisms, and other biases and are aware of and sensitive
beliefs and the behavior and beliefs of others. to issues of racism and prejudice.
z Are aware of specific cultural beliefs, values, and z Are bilingual, multilingual, or working toward lan-
sensibilities that might affect the way they and others guage proficiency.
think or behave. z Can communicate, interact, and work positively with
z Appreciate and accept diverse beliefs, appearances, individuals from other cultural groups.
and lifestyles. z Use technology to communicate with individuals and
z Are aware that historical knowledge is constructed access resources from other cultures.
and, therefore, shaped by personal, political, and social z Are familiar with changing cultural norms of technol-
forces. ogy (such as instant messaging, virtual workspaces,
z Know the history of mainstream and nonmainstream E-mail, and so on), and can interact successfully in
American cultures and understand how these histories such environments.
affect current society. z Understand that cultural differences exist and
z Can understand the perspective of nonmainstream need to be accounted for in the context of military op-
groups when learning about historical events. erations.
z Know about major historical events of other nations z Understand that as soldiers they are part of a widely
and understand how such events affect behaviors, be- stereotyped culture that will encounter predisposed
liefs, and relationships with others. prejudices, which will need to be overcome in cross-
z Are aware of the similarities among groups of differ- cultural relations.
ent cultural backgrounds and accept differences between z Are secure and confident in their identities and ca-
them. pable of functioning in a way that allows others to remain
z Understand the dangers of stereotyping, ethnocen- secure in theirs.

MILITARY REVIEW z March - April 2005 63

US Army

A boy and his donkey pass through an area patrolled by

the 114th Field Artillery Battalion as it provides security for
the Shia’Ashura festival in Karbala, Iraq, 19 February 2005.

Encouraging participation of a variety of people and teaching origins of stereotypes and prejudices
in all activities is difficult against this backdrop. also help.
However, encouraging participation is a key value Diversity might entail changing how things are
in the framework of cultural competency. Recog- done to acknowledge differences in individuals,
nizing differences as diversity rather than as inap- groups, and communities. One must develop skills
propriate responses is a challenge in tactical and op- for cross-cultural communication and understand that
erational environments. Cultural competency accepts communication and trust are often more important
and creates an environment that allows each cul- than activity. Institutionalizing cultural interventions
ture to contribute its values, perspectives, and be- for conflicts and confusion caused by the dynamics
haviors in constructive ways to enrich the outcome. of difference might also be necessary.
Cultural literacy is about understanding your indi- With the increase in coalition and multinational
vidual cultural patterns and knowing your own cul- cooperative military efforts, cultural competence is
tural norms. Understanding how your culture affects a critical leadership requirement. Stability and sup-
someone else’s culture can profoundly affect any port operations demand adept leaders who can work
COA’s chances for success. Military leaders have with community, international, and private organiza-
an additional challenge; they must understand and tions whose members come from widely divergent
appreciate their own military culture, their nation’s cultural backgrounds. The Army’s description of the
culture, and the operational area’s culture. objective force describes the need for conventional
To effectively manage the dynamics of differ- forces with Special Forces qualities, including being
ences, leaders must learn effective strategies for culturally competent.
solving conflict among diverse peoples and organi- The Army has many programs designed to build
zations. They must also understand how historic dis- cultural competency, including multinational and part-
trust affects current interactions, realizing that one nership training exercise programs; liaison officers,
might misjudge others’ actions based on learned ex- foreign students integrated into leader education and
pectations. training programs; and officer exchange programs,
Integrating information and skills to interact effec- to name a few. These programs are useful, but un-
tively in various cross-cultural situations into staff fortunately, they are mostly crafted around educat-
development and education systems helps institution- ing the foreign student about U.S. cultural norms and
alize cultural knowledge. Incorporating cultural operations rather than the inverse. Perhaps liaison
knowledge into the mainstream of the organization officers could be charged with instructional duties

64 March - April 2005 z MILITARY REVIEW


Aspects of Culture Mainstream American Culture Other Cultures

Sense of self and space Informal, handshake Formal hugs, bows, handshakes

Communication and language Explicit, direct communication; Implicit, indirect communication;

emphasis on content, meaning found emphasis on context, meaning found
in words around words

Dress and appearance “Dress for success” ideal; wide range Dress seen as a sign of position,
in accepted dress wealth, and prestige; religious rules

Food and eating habits Eating as a necessity, fast food Dining as a social experience; religious

Time and time consciousness Linear and exact time consciousness; Elastic and relative time conscious-
value on promptness, time equals ness; time spent on enjoyment of
money relationships

Relationships, family, friends Focus on nuclear family; responsibility Focus on extended family; loyalty and
for self; value on youth; age seen as responsibility to family; age given
handicap status and respect

Values and norms Individual orientation; independence; Group orientation; conformity; prefer-
preference for direct confrontation of ence for harmony

Beliefs and attitudes Egalitarian; challenging of authority; Hierarchical; respect for authority
individuals control their destiny; and social order; individuals accept
gender equality their destiny; different roles for men
and women

Mental processes and learning style Linear, logical, sequential problem- Lateral, holistic, simultaneous; accept-
solving focus ing of life’s difficulties

Work habits and practices Emphasis on task; reward based on Emphasis on relationships; rewards
individual achievement; work has based on seniority, relationships; work
intrinsic value is a necessity of life

Chart 1. Comparing cultural norms and values.

© 1998, Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe, Managing Diversity (New York: McGraw-Hill), 164-65. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill.

and exchange programs could bring in more foreign lyze us for fear of not saying the “right thing.” Cul-
instructors and experts into the school system. Would tural awareness puts a premium on listening and
China, India, Egypt, or some African country be in- comprehending the intent behind others’ remarks.
terested in having an instructor on the staff of the Becoming more aware of cultural differences and
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College exploring similarities helps us communicate more ef-
(CGSC) to teach decisionmaking, culture, or man- fectively. Chart 1 shows some aspects of general
agement? cultural normative differences between U.S. culture
A need for cultural literacy and cultural compe- and other cultures.4
tency is clear, but it is also clear the educational pro- With so many diverse cultures and the enormous
cess to achieve both will take some time to estab- amount of study required to become expert on any
lish. The key question is, where do we start? given one, how do we narrow the field to find the
right focus for generating cultural skills in soldiers?
Cultural Differences Certainly specific cultures represent states or groups
Culture, which is learned and shared by members that might be more likely to develop an adversarial
of a group, is presented to children as their social relationship with the United States. Perhaps it would
heritage. Cultural norms are the standard, model, or be best to learn more about states or cultures with
pattern a specific cultural, race, ethnic, religious, or whom we are most likely to form a coalition or par-
social group regards as typical. Cultural norms in- ticipate in a multinational campaign. Unfortunately,
clude thoughts, behaviors, and patterns of commu- history demonstrates the uncertainty of predicting
nication, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions.3 where, when, and with whom soldiers might be re-
As individuals, groups, and societies we can learn quired to operate. Of course, this would not rule out
to collaborate across cultural lines. Awareness of the need to study high-probability cultures. Adopt-
cultural differences does not have to divide or para- ing an approach, at least initially, oriented toward

MILITARY REVIEW z March - April 2005 65

some foundational cultural norms with broader ap- guages include mathematics, music, computing,
plication across a wider range of settings might prove physics, and engineering. Although such are not im-
more prudent, however. mediately useful in most military tasks, they offer a
common frame of reference of possible value un-
Foundational Cultural Norms der special circumstances.6
Foundational cultural norms are normative values One of the most overlooked and effective commu-
and factors having the greatest effect on military nication tools is using pictures, drawings, or photo-
operations and the relations of soldiers with the popu- graphs. A great deal of truth is behind the expression
lations they encounter. Researchers identify four “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Creating graphic
cultural syndromes—complexity, individualism, col- and pictorial aides for cross-cultural communication
lectivism, and tightness—that are patterns of beliefs, is much easier and often much more effective than
attitudes, self-definitions, norms, and values organized linguistic aides. However, in any form of informa-
around some theme that can be found in every so- tion transmission, meanings are not always clear, and
ciety. Using cultural syndromes as a frame of ref- certainly, missing presentation skills, timing, and con-
erence, we can develop foundational normative val- text can be as confusing and counterproductive as
ues having common application across all cultures, any other. Using a culture’s iconography, such as
which should provide the starting point for a cultural religious symbols—the cross for Christians or the
education program. crescent moon for Islamics—can lead to develop-
Cultural norms often are so strongly ingrained in ing means of symbolic communication.
daily life that individuals might be unaware of cer- Another major aspect of communication is the
tain behaviors. Until they see such behaviors in the degree of importance given to nonverbal communi-
context of a different culture with different values cation, including facial expressions and gestures as
and beliefs, they might have difficulty recognizing and well as seating arrangements, personal distance, and
changing them.5 Usually, our own culture is invis- sense of time. Different norms regarding the appro-
ible until it comes into contact with another culture. priate degree of assertiveness in communicating can
People are generally ethnocentric: they interpret add to cultural misunderstandings.7
other cultures within the framework of the under- Attitudes toward conflict. Some cultures view
standing they have of their own. Six fundamental conflict as a positive thing; others view it as some-
patterns of cultural norms have greatly affected re- thing to be avoided. In the United States conflict is
lations between differing cultures: communication not usually desirable, but people most often deal di-
styles, attitudes toward conflict, approaches to com- rectly with conflicts as they arise. For example, a
pleting tasks, decisionmaking styles, attitudes toward face-to-face meeting is a customary way to work
personal disclosure, and approaches to knowing. through problems. In many Eastern countries, open
Communication styles. Communicating be- conflict is considered embarrassing or demeaning.
tween two cultures involves generating, transmitting, Differences are best worked out quietly. A written
receiving, and decrypting coded messages or bits of exchange might be the favored means to address
information; it is about much more than language, the conflict. Another means might be enlisting a re-
although language is certainly key to communica- spected third party who can facilitate communica-
tion and should be a part of any cultural training pro- tion without risking loss of face or being humiliated.
gram. The early focus, however, should be more on American military culture deals with problems head
effective use and application of language than on on. As in a game of checkers, the intricacies of subtle
making a soldier a linguist. Someone struggling to and indirect moves are more often than not relegated
communicate in an unfamiliar language cannot com- to civilian and military strategists. Many other cultures,
municate complex issues. The goal should be to orient however, employ indirect approaches and subtle
language-skill developmental programs, at least ini- means as part of day-to-day activity. When soldiers
tially, on effectively conveying simple terms rather trained in the direct approach encounter these cul-
than on linguistic competence—learning to make the tures, communication is difficult and can often lead
most out of simple meanings. The Army needs to to profound misunderstandings and miscalculations.
find simple ways of communication that will speak Approaches to competing tasks. From culture
to other cultural norms and that will require listen- to culture, people have different ways of complet-
ing. Communication is a two-way street. ing tasks. They might have different access to re-
Common, universal languages are available that sources, different rewards associated with task
almost all cultures understand. Other types of lan- completion, different notions of time, and different

66 March - April 2005 z MILITARY REVIEW


ideas about how relationship-building and task- alliances, coalitions, and partnerships will most likely
oriented work should go together. Asian and Hispanic be tied to these nations. Key regional powers, whose
cultures tend to attach more value to developing re- activities or issues have the greatest possibility for
lationships at the beginning of a shared project, with creating global consequences, are most likely to be
more emphasis on task completion toward the end, Indonesia, India, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, South
as compared with European-Americans. European- Africa, Brazil, Algeria, and Mexico. In addition, natu-
Americans tend to focus immediately on the task ral resources in the Caspian Basin, off the coast of
at hand, allowing relationships to develop as they east-central Africa and in Venezuela will certainly
work together. increase those regions’ importance. These nations
Decisionmaking styles. The roles individuals might offer a good starting point for a program of
play in decisionmaking vary widely from culture to study of other cultures.
culture. In America, decisions are frequently del- Cultural expertise takes time. Cultural literacy and
egated; that is, an official assigns responsibility for competency skills will enable us to cope with most
a particular matter to a subordinate. In many South- any circumstance of cultural difference. Areas of
ern European and Latin American countries, strong specific expertise deepen those skills and provide
value is placed on holding decisionmaking responsi- context to their application, but programs designed
bilities oneself. When groups of people make deci- to achieve expertise in a given region or culture must
sions, majority rule is a common approach in begin early and be continuous. The officer corps
America. In Japan, consensus is the preferred mode. should begin training while in precommissioning pro-
Attitudes toward personal disclosure. In grams. Prescribed courses in regional studies and
some cultures, it is not appropriate to be frank about some language training would be a great beginning.
emotions, the reasons behind a conflict or a misun- We could certainly look at expanding summer op-
derstanding, or about personal information. Questions portunities for travel and study in specified foreign
that might seem natural to you might seem intrusive countries. A program of this nature currently exists
to others. (What was the conflict about? What was within the foreign military studies office involving
your role in the conflict? What was the sequence West Point cadets. We could expand the program
of events?) to include select Reserve Officer Training Corps
Approaches to knowing. Notable differences (ROTC) students. Branch schools could coordinate
occur among cultural groups when it comes to epis- with local universities for instructors, course mate-
temologies; that is, the ways people come to know rials, and expertise.
things. European cultures tend to consider informa- The Army War College’s (AWC’s) country stud-
tion acquired through cognitive means, such as count- ies program could certainly serve as a model for cul-
ing and measuring, more valid than other ways of tural education at lower levels. Using electronic con-
coming to know things. African cultures prefer af- nectivity between schools and individuals would
fective ways of knowing, including symbolic imag- allow the creation of virtual teams with AWC,
ery and rhythm. Asian cultures tend to emphasize CGSC, or advance course students around a spe-
the validity of knowledge gained through striving to- cific country or regional area. The AWC students
ward transcendence. Recent popular works dem- could serve as study directors, orchestrating and fa-
onstrate that American society is paying more at- cilitating team members’ efforts in other schools.
tention to previously overlooked ways of knowing. Another possibility is to leverage business and in-
Obviously, different approaches to knowing can dustry programs for cultural education, making them
affect how we analyze or find ways to solve a com- available through distributed learning. We should also
munity problem. Some group members might want not forget the expertise available from the Special
to conduct library research to understand a shared Forces. The bottom line is there are many ways
problem better and to identify possible solutions. Oth- available to achieve our goals if we can agree on
ers might prefer to visit places and people who have the focus and end state.
experienced similar challenges and touch, taste, and Three other factors play into cultural differences
listen to what has worked elsewhere. that influence communication: religion, tribal affilia-
tions, and nationalism.
Specific Cultures to Study Religion. Religion, one of the most important as-
In the future, key powers in a regional or global pects of cross-cultural conflict resolution, is a pow-
context will most likely be the United States, the Eu- erful constituent of cultural norms and values, and
ropean Union, China, Japan, and Russia, and future because it addresses the most profound existential

MILITARY REVIEW z March - April 2005 67

Indicator Novice Basic Proficient Advanced

Awareness of Students are largely Students are aware Students possess Students are highly
culture ignorant of specific that culture affects some knowledge of knowledgeable about
value systems that their own and others’ specific beliefs, specific cultural
contribute to how behavior; however, values, and sensibili- beliefs, values, and
they and others understanding ties that contribute to sensibilities that might
behave, OR they specific beliefs and the way they and affect the way they
possess negative, value systems is others behave. and others think or
stereotyped beliefs largely superficial or behave.
about different cultural incomplete.

Awareness of Students are largely Students possess Students know some Students have sub-
history and its impact unknowledgeable basic knowledge history of mainstream stantial knowledge of
about their own and about history, mostly and nonmainstream history of both main-
others’ histories, focused on main- American cultures stream and nonmain-
cultures, and they stream American and that of other stream American cul-
show no interest in cultures. They are nations; they under- tures and the history
learning more. largely unaware of stand these histories of other nations. They
how history has affect relationships have a sophisticated
shaped relationships today, but their under- understanding of how
among diverse standing is unsophis- these histories have
groups. ticated. affected relationships
among groups.

Perspective taking; Students do not Students require Students realize Students realize
history realize knowledge of substantial assistance history is socially history is socially and
history is socially and to recognize that constructed. With politically constructed,
politically constructed; knowledge of history minimal guidance they and students have
when learning about is socially constructed can take the perspec- sufficient knowledge
history, they do not and to assume the tive of nonmainstream to spontaneously take
independently assume perspective of non- groups when learning the perspective of
the perspective of mainstream groups about historical nonmainstream
nonmainstream when learning history. events. groups when learning
groups. history.

Stereotyping Students do not At a general level, Students understand Students understand

and bias understand that students understand the dangers of the dangers of
stereotyping and that stereotyping and stereotyping and stereotyping and
other biases are not other biases are not other biases; they are other biases; are
acceptable and tend acceptable; however, aware of and sensitive to issues of
to engage in these they are not sensitive sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice;
behaviors. Students to the impact of racism and prejudice and are highly
internalize implicit, prejudice or to biased and sometimes cognizant of biased
biased messages messages about other recognize biased messages about other
about other cultural cultural groups (for messages about other cultural groups (for
groups (for example, example, in the media). cultural groups (for example, in the media).
in the media). example, in the media).

Tolerance Students fail to With few exceptions, With guidance, Students understand
recognize similarities students fail to recog- students are individuals from
between their own nize similarities between cognizant of diverse cultures
culture and that of their own and others’ similarities between share some funda-
others; they judge cultures. Although not their own and others’ mental beliefs; they
differences in negative about differ- cultures. They appreciate and ac-
behavior or lifestyle ences in behavior or appreciate and accept cept diversity and
negatively and do not lifestyle, students only individuals with seek opportunities to
associate with occasionally associate diverse beliefs, learn about and
individuals from with individuals from appearances, and interact with different
different cultures. different cultures. lifestyles. cultures.

Chart 2. Continuum of progress.

© 1998, Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe, Managing Diversity (New York: McGraw-Hill), 164-65. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill.

issues of human life (freedom and inevitability, fear tural values as they apply to the world’s prominent
and faith, security and insecurity, right and wrong, religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Bud-
sacred and profane), it is deeply implicated in indi- dhism, Taoism, Juche).
vidual and social conceptions of peace. To transform Tribal affiliation. Tribal cultures, prevalent in de-
current conflicts, we must understand the concep- veloping countries, are often the only structure in
tions of peace within diverse religious and cultural ungoverned areas. Tribal cultures differ, but at their
traditions while seeking common ground.8 core, they share a common foundation. They arise
An exploration of religious cultural norms could from a social tradition that often lacks written histo-
take the form of comparisons of foundational cul- ries or philosophies and independent perspectives,

68 March - April 2005 z MILITARY REVIEW


and they espouse ideas and beliefs held unanimously The Army can expand on the educational base
by the entire tribe. Tribal leaders are not accustomed by ensuring tactical and operational training pro-
to external challenge. grams address cultural factors. At the national train-
Regardless of region, tribes also share foundational ing centers, opposing-force role players should be
norms with respect to decisionmaking, knowledge, and skilled in emulating key cultural norms that might af-
disclosure. Studying norms for tribal structures might fect military actions and activities. All leaders should
well prove the only way to understand these cultures be exposed to these factors and receive appropri-
because of the absence of written material. ate feedback on how well they manage differences
Nationalism. Studying nationalism is to study cul- and accomplish tasks. Perhaps the Army should also
tural norms and values as driving factors. Separated consider introducing cultural-awareness training into
from the context of states, nations embody the im- Battle Command Training Programs and combat
portance people place on culture and heritage with- training centers where, with allies and partners, com-
out respect to geography. Nationalistic movements mand and staffs would be combined to foster de-
have common aspects in how they relate to other velopment of cultural competency skills.
cultures and how their behaviors are governed. This Models and simulations in support of training and
area of study would be particularly useful in under- education should begin to include cultural factors as
standing and dealing with transnational organizations, the Army moves to an agent-based construct, which
whether they are legitimate, criminal, or terrorist. will increase the number of variables and compli-
Assessing Educational Progress cate environments so they more closely approximate
Any educational program requires a way to as- reality. This program, which is already being worked
sess its effectiveness. Chart 2, based on established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
cultural education programs for academia, business, Agency (DARPA) is one we should seek to guide
and government, is a good measure for developing and direct.
cultural literacy. I am not sure how training would In generalized study areas, the Army should edu-
progress across the framework of a soldier’s career, cate soldiers and leaders on foundational cultural
but every soldier would at least be at the basic level norms and values and teach them skills used to un-
after completing initial entry training and, at the ad- derstand and bridge cultural differences, looking at
vanced level, culturally proficient after completing the religious, tribal, and nationalistic factors in represen-
Primary Leadership Development Course. tative and nonrepresentative societies. Over time,
Cultural education is not a new subject or issue. specialized study should enable soldiers to build
Over the years, the Army has introduced internal and expertise in specific regions concerning specific
external programs to address cultural factors within societies.MR
its organization and during long-duration deploy-
ments. The programs effectively created an Army 1. Peter J. Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in
value of cultural acceptance as a standard, but only World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).
2. Nancy E. Briggs and Glenn R. Harwood, “Furthering Adjustment: An Application
so long as differing values did not compete with of Inoculation Theory in an Intercultural Context,” Eric Reproduction Services, no. ed.
225, 221, 1983.
Army values or standards. These same programs, 3. Lisa Castellanos, “Hispanic/Latina Women: Cultural norms and prevention”;
Project Director, Abriendo Puertas, 1986, Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association,
modified and refocused, could serve as the founda- Tallahassee, on-line at <www,fadaa.org/resource/justfact/hispnorm.html)>, accessed, 9
March 2005.
tion for an expanded cultural education program to 4. The charts are based on those published by Lee Gardenswartz and Anita Rowe
in Managing Diversity (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998), 164-65.
create better skills for dealing with other cultures 5. Jean Willis, “Understanding Cultural Differences,” American Society of Associa-
tion Executives, Washington, D.C., 1 March 2001.
during conflicts, partnerships, or stability operations 6. A growing perception in many circles is that military cultures are moving toward
establishing an artificial or formal language.
and support operations. Resources associated with 7. Marcelle E. DuPraw and Marya Axner, “Working on Common Cross-Cultural
Communication Challenges,” A More Perfect Union (AMPU) Guide, on-line at
such programs could be the nucleus for a rapid start- <www.wwcd.org/action/ampu/crosscult.html>, accessed 5 November 2004.
8. Abdul Aziz Said and Nathan C. Funk, “The Role of Faith in Cross-Cultural Con-
up and foundation for expansion. flict Resolution,” presentation at the European Parliament for the European Centre for
Common Ground, September 2001, on-line at <http://shss.nova.edu/pcs/journalsPDF/
Cultural education is a growing concern among V9N1.pdf>, 37, accessed 5 November 2004.

major businesses operating in the global market. For

this reason, there are a wide variety of commercial, Colonel Maxie McFarland, U.S. Army, Retired, is a
academic, and government programs for cultural Defense Intelligence Senior Executive and the Deputy
Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army Training and
education. In many cases, courseware is available Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He received
and training-development work has been completed. a B.S. from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga;
Assessing and, where practical, using these pro- an M.Ed. from Southern Arkansas University; an M.S.
from the Naval War College; and he is a graduate of the
grams offers significant cost savings in developing U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
educational materials and courses.

MILITARY REVIEW z March - April 2005 69