In a world that is dominated by discussions of artificial intelligence, increasing technology on the battlefield, and new domains in space and cyber, what part does history play in the development of today’s military officer. Dr. Greta Bucher, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy, joins our Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt to discuss how an education in history is just as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. But what should a historical education look like? Bucher and Whitt discuss the importance of incorporating social and cultural history, especially related to questions about race and gender, in the education of future military officers.



Dr. Greta Bucher is a Professor of History and the Vice-Deputy for Academic Affairs in the History Department at West Point Military Academy. Jacqueline E. Whitt is Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor-in-Chief of WAR ROOM. 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.

Photo Description: In 1976, 119 female cadets, a few of them seen here with their male counterparts, became the first women to join the Corps of Cadets at The United States Military Academy at West Point. Of the original 119, 62 graduated in 1980.

Photo Credit: Department of the Army

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  • Richard R. Allen

    In my opinion, the two professors should be deployed as infantry platoon leaders to a combat zone where they should demonstrate that the lessons taught at the USMA in race and gender can be translated into practical actions. They should have a standard deployment of a year in hot combat.

    In my opinion, the USMA curriculum and teaching materials on race and gender should have a thorough review and / or audit by the National Association of Scholars.

    In my opinion, the USMA curriculum and teaching materials on race and gender should have a thorough review by Heterodox Academy separately.

    In my opinion, we have the following articles which would make a starting point for review of the curriculum and teaching materials.

    While the two professors make much of the issue of slavery and civil rights, I must have missed the history lesson where slave ships delivered Africans to the Tinglit Tribe of Alaska during the time when Alaska was controlled by the Czar in Russia.

    As Montgomery McFate points out, Anthropology is not an actual science at this time. The logic escapes me of how you can cite the social sciences as informing the students if the social science cited is not a science with lessons to teach?

    One wonders whether the history professors know how to add other perspectives and analysis into the students lessons besides race and gender?

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    As we saw with the Arab Spring, we can have emergent behaviors which can’t be predicted.

    Also, the students would benefit from knowing which standard techniques will not change behavior and what methods might change behavior.

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    Recent research on the human genome challenges the basic assumption that human races have no biological basis. In this article, we provide a theoretical synthesis that accepts the existence of genetic clusters consistent with certain racial classifications as well as the validity of the genomic research that has identified the clusters, without diminishing the social character of their context, meaning, production, or consequences. The first part of this article describes the social constructionist account of race as lacking biological reality, its main shortcomings, and our proposed solution: the concept of clinal classes. The second part discusses the character of the group differences that would be consistent with clinal classes and introduces the concept of genomic individualism, which extends an emerging model for understanding biosocial causation to include the genetic effects of ancestry. The third part develops the argument for a “bounded nature” reformulation of racial constructionism that reconceptualizes racial and ethnic categorization as the social perception of ancestry. The final part summarizes the article’s contributions and outlines implications for future research.


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    Military Anthropology: Soldiers, Scholars and Subjects at the Margins of Empire by Montgomery McFate

    In almost every military intervention in its history, the US has made cultural mistakes that hindered attainment of its policy goals. From the strategic bombing of Vietnam to the accidental burning of the Koran in Afghanistan, it has blundered around with little consideration of local cultural beliefs and for the long-term effects on the host nation’s society. Cultural anthropology–the so-called “handmaiden of colonialism”–has historically served as an intellectual bridge between Western powers and local nationals. What light can it shed on the intersection of the US military and foreign societies today?
    This book tells the story of anthropologists who worked directly for the military, such as Ursula Graham Bower, the only woman to hold a British combat command during WWII. Each faced challenges including the negative outcomes of exporting Western political models and errors of perception.
    Ranging from the British colonial era in Africa to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Military Anthropology illustrates the conceptual, cultural and practical barriers encountered by military organisations operating in societies vastly different from their own.

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