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"Comparative Analysis of Female and Male Veterans that have been Deployed to Afghanistan and had to Interact with Afghani Civilians"
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Complexity theories require that conflicts between organisations are complex systems because they involve interactions between organizations, individuals and within organizations. Applying military and complexity theories it become obvious that cultural awareness and skills are important for military success. Cultural awareness is important for gaining an information advantage over the enemies and for simplifying the complex nature of conflicts with foreigners. This research study analyses and explores the cultural training for soldiers prior to deployment in Afghanistan and how that training has been used and experienced during active duty in Afghanistan. The purpose of the study is to identify the gaps, if any, between cultural training and practical experience. This study will therefore conduct a qualitative study in which 8 female and 8 male vets recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan are interviewed about their pre-deployment military cultural training and their subsequent interactions with Afghanis. The results of those interviews will be analysed and reported in this study. Implications for future military cultural training and a possible program will be discussed. Table of Contents Abstract 2 II.A Review of Literature 11 I. Introduction A. Justification The Global War on Terrorism, now known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), has now passed the 11 year mark. So far more than 1.7 million U.S. military personnel have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and a number of U.S. bases globally (Mathewson, 2012). Deployment to OCO destinations is typically much longer than deployment in previous wars and conflicts (Mathewson, 2012). Therefore the military’s relationship with the civilian population is arguably a large part of the OCO experience. Feichtinger and Gauster (2008) argue that no international crisis can be managed without the cooperation and engagement of the civilian population. Cultural training programs within the US military have therefore become a part of the defense preparedness initiative (Abbe & Gouge, 2012). As reported by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), the army’s highest goal is to “win over” civilian populations (p.1). According to Gentile (2009), The U.S. has now adopted what is termed population –centric counterinsurgency (COIN) as the new method of war and military training. The COIN approach emphasizes that “populations are always the focus, the center of gravity, and they have to be protected” (Gentile, 2009, p. 6). COIN also requires “a certain tactical approach of dispersion into small outposts to live amongst the people to win their hearts and minds” (Gentile, 2009, p. 6). In order to accomplish the civilian-centric goals cultural training is important particularly since the military has its own culture, language, beliefs and behavior (Luby, 2012). According to Davis (2013) however, when the U.S. military entered Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, culture had not been high on their agenda. For the military, culture was either an impediment to military effectiveness or not relevant (Davis, 2013). Although the military has made significant progress toward increasing cultural awareness training as a part of military preparedness, Colonel Holiday (2008) of the U.S. Army maintains that the military faces significant challenges fully accomplishing the COIN objectives. According to Holiday (2008) the first challenge that the U.S. Military must overcome is the lack of resources for implementing training that goes beyond basic cultural knowledge. What is needed is a cultural awareness training program that fully prepares military personnel so that they understand how different religious, tribal, or family and social
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