Anyone paying attention to the last two decades of conflict has to acknowledge that understanding culture is important. Even if you think that culture is just that “squishy sh*t”, you’ve got to be honest that it’s difficult to understand enemy intent, analyze how best to train an allied force or comprehend the will of the people if can’t even grasp the basics of the cultural foundations of those populations. And yet the DoD and the individual service components have a strange on-again, off-again relationship with the understanding and instruction of culture. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Kerry Fosher, Lauren Mackenzie and Allison Abbe to the virtual studio to discuss the role of cultural programs in military training and their new book The Rise and Decline Of U.S. Military Culture Programs 2004 To 2020. The three join podcast editor Ron Granieri to look at how the services have created and re-created cultural training programs over and over again seemingly forgetting lessons learned time and again.
…the capability gets shut down and then recreated every couple of decades. The consequences of that, and the lack of continuity that it brings are borne by junior military personnel and the people that they interact with.
Kerry Fosher is a cultural anthropologist and Director of Research at Marine Corps University. She worked on military and intelligence community culture programs from 2006 through 2020, including 10 years as the director of research for the Marine Corps’ service-wide program that provided cultural, regional, and language training and education.
Lauren Mackenzie is Marine Corps University’s Professor of Military Cross-Cultural Competence. Her research interests revolve around the impact of cultural differences on difficult conversations, to include: end-of-life communication, relationship repair strategies, and, most recently, the role of failure in teaching and learning.
Allison Abbe is professor of organizational studies at the U.S. Army War College. She led a program of research at the Army Research Institute from 2006 to 2011 on assessing and developing cultural skills in military personnel. She holds a PhD in social and personality psychology and currently teaches strategic leadership, defense management, and inclusive leadership.
Ron Granieri is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor of A BETTER PEACE.
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
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