It is true, though, that much of the blame for the IDF's poor performance in the 2006 war must fall upon the IDF's officer corps (and Israeli politicians for slashing the IDF's training budget). Complacency is the enemy of any good military, and it certainly seems as if the IDF grew too accustomed to the kind of missions they performed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories after the 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon. In the same way, the U.S. military officer corps in Iraq and Afghanistan is perhaps the most combat-proven officer corps in our nation's history. But operational commanders must work hard to ensure that the overall culture within the officer corps is not overrun by complacency. This is their job, as officers, commanders, and custodians of the nation's military.If you do not read anything else today, though, read the Naveh interview. Looking forward to the comments on this one!
If cultural knowledge has helped U.S. forces to refocus their efforts to better achieve their operational and tactical goals, the question our political leaders should be asking is whether cultural knowledge can also help them to redefine a broader strategic framework for counterinsurgency.One element of this dichotomy is that "operational" culture is relatively static: it consists of customs, habits, and traditions; the cultural or symbolic details of everyday life. But,
Against this definition of culture as an enduring “grammar” of values and customs rooted in a timeless tradition, cultural knowledge as applied to the level of strategy assumes that cultures are dynamic entities, not static categories. Hence, in formulating an overarching strategic framework for counterinsurgency, it is important to grasp not merely the cultural logic of say, Sunni identity, including their values, customs, traditions, etc., but how Sunni extremists have invoked these traditional values, historical experiences, and belief-systems in the contemporary context to justify their extremist actions.Recognition of this instrumentality is underlies many of the policies associated with the Anbar Awakening and CLCs in Iraq. Which also to suggest that it's not a panacea: cultural knowledge, of the type used in devising strategies, often creates strategic possibilities where seemingly none existed before. New fissures to exploit, new allies to woo. But these polices can also be fraught with peril. Policies informed by culture are nearly always going to be at least marginally better than those that aren't (cf, Iraq 2003-2005). Like most everything on the battlefield, these victories are precarious.
[E]xtremist groups like al-Qai’da have appropriated and reinterpreted Islamic texts, belief-systems, and traditions to justify their own radical ideology; in other words, they have used culture instrumentally.
We are checking it out now, but apparently the last of 86 unique items and over 140 total books and two movies were purchased today and sent off to the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy in Kabul. Moreover, through this effort the Academy and my (Dave Dilegge) 'day job' organization (Wargaming Division of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab) were able to hook up resulting in 50 Small Wars manuals and COIN related DVDs and CDs sent as well. Thanks to all who helped us and Abu Muqawama with this effort.Let us second those thanks. We couldn't be more proud.