We can’t function in a vacuum without understanding who the people are that we’re interacting with on a daily basis. And this is particularly critical, even in domestic operations, from a disaster and a mass emergency response standpoint.

When disaster strikes in the United States we are fortunate to have the National Guard available to bolster and support our civilian first responders. Experts in logistics and transportation, organization and construction as well as medical experts, the Guard is vital in supporting the long term recovery operations that follow any disastrous event. The Guard response to the current COVID-19 pandemic is very much like many other natural disasters that the U.S has endured in the last 50 years. But it’s also very different. The pandemic hasn’t struck a single region that allows help to arrive from safe staging areas outside the hot zone. The entire nation is vulnerable to this virus, and responders find themselves immersed in aiding citizens at a very personal level. With that level of interaction come the complications of diverse cultures, religious and political views, and a multitude of  multitude of languages other than English. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Michele Devlin and Steve Warnstadt to the studio to examine the navigation of the complex cultural terrain of our great American melting pot. They’re joined by our Editor-In-Chief Jacqueline Whitt to discuss what the DoD, along with state level leadership, must do to ensure that Guard troops are best prepared to succeed amongst the diverse culture that is our national strength.

Dr. Michele Devlin is Professor of Global Health at the University of Northern Iowa and an Adjunct Research Professor with the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) at the U.S. Army War College. Brigadier General (ret) Steven Warnstadt is the former Deputy Commanding General for Operations, Iowa National Guard and an AY12 graduate of the U.S. Army War College Distance Education Program. Jacqueline E. Whitt is an Associate 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: Army Spc. Reagan Long, left, a horizontal construction engineer with the New York Army National Guard’s 827th Engineer Company, and Army Pfc. Naomi Velez, a horizontal construction engineer with the New York Army Guard’s 152nd Engineer Support Company, register people at a COVID-19 mobile screening center in New Rochelle, New York, March 14, 2020. More than 1,500 National Guard members in 22 states have been activated in support of state and local authorities responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to operating mobile screening centers, Guard members have been disinfecting public spaces, providing logistical and transportation support and coordinating with state and local health officials.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amouris Coss

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Michael Lind notes that migration was East to West in America. Thus Iowa is culturally similar to the New England states, including New York, and the northern tier of states. We have two people living more in the same subculture of America commenting on cultural diversity.

    The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elites by Michael Lind


    Rendezvous with Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform: A History of Modern American Reform 1st Edition by Eric F. Goldman

    Eric Goldman notes that previously the some of the Western states in the late 1800s were more extreme than any part of America.

    “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”

    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    American colleges and universities tend to be a monoculture within America. To escape the monoculture Heterodox Academy was founded. Should our armed forces consult with faculty professors, they would need to evaluate the accuracy of the expertise and the biases.

    Heterodox Academy is a group of nearly 4,000 educators, administrators, & graduate students who believe diverse viewpoints & open inquiry are critical to research & learning.


    This research says that the dominant narrative about some cultural trends is factually wrong. This is another reason to assess the usefulness of the faculty members before consulting them.

    Applying the Theory of Affective Intelligence to Support for Authoritarian Policies and Parties
    Sean Stevens August 8, 2019


    The National Association of Scholars has done a great deal or work to show how colleges and universities could be reformed.

    Scholar Recommends Scorched Earth Strategy Against Higher Ed to Reform It


    I agree with the presenters that you should try to gain local knowledge. With a can do attitude and a desire for speed, this might conflict with letting local people solve their problems their ways since a political resolution may achieve more stable and lasting results.

    Book Review: ‘Why Government Fails So Often’ by Peter H. Schuck
    Government’s best practice is to set goals and arrange incentives so society’s knowledge can be put to use by its dispersed possessors.


    William Easterly points out how culture in a foreign country can affect behavior which is carried to America. With oppression in ones previous centuries, we might have subgroups with low trust in government.

    “The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor,” William Easterly


    The presenters may be oblivious to the extreme problem America would have if it became a majority / minority country. Experience has shown with competing blocks, we will have gridlock with no political resolution possible.

    The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies – New Edition

    Where we have immigrant groups we would ask how trust worthy are they? We would ask how much they would break rules needed to a flatten the curve in a pandemic?

    Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies Simon Gächter & Jonathan F. Schulz

    Nature volume 531, pages496–499(2016)Cite this article


    This is the type of lecture to avoid common mistakes in looking at a situation.

    Metathinking: Advanced Critical Thinking – Learning Hub


    This looks better than some of the posts on the insider threat. A former NCIS counterintelligence officer noted that the People’s Republic of China could have an asset in place for 20 before activating it.

    he New Psychology of Fraud – Learning Hub


    Finally, we can prepare for the known / knowns and the known / unknowns. We can’t predict and prepare for the unknown / unknowns.

    Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers by John Kay and Mervyn King

    Some of the advice was of the order of don’t run with scissors. We need other perspectives than the typical multicultural views.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *