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On Culture: Know the Enemy and Know Thyself - Giap, Abrams, and Victory

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The US Armys capstone doctrine on unified land warfare states that leaders must be culturally astute. How does a military leader become culturally astute and for what purpose Understanding culture, especially ones own culture, is not just a branch specific duty it is every US Army leaders responsibility. Becoming culturally astute requires knowing oneself and ones enemy, which is not merely an analysis of military capabilities, but a deeper philosophical and cultural understanding of identity, which may influence or even drive certain behaviors. Knowing oneself is not an intuitive judgment, but a deliberate analysis of ones society, military organization, and personal identity. Understanding ones cultural identity and an adversarys cultural identity enables leaders to better anticipate future action. The author conducted a case study of General Vo Nguyen Giap and General Creighton Abrams to analyze the relationships between societys cultural influences, organizational influences, personal identity, and behavior. The US Armys fundamental solution towards readiness should include a process for cultural understanding for all US Army leaders.

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