Accession Number:



Marines and Foreign Military Cultures

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

USMC Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning Quantico United States

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Through doctrinal publications, Marine Corps leadership articulates the importance of understanding human factors for Marines to effectively exploit an opponents weaknesses. Acknowledging the dictum of ancient military strategist, Sun Tsu, the U.S. military has dedicated significant resources to know thy enemy and know thyself. However, much of the emphasis has been on tangible, material capabilities, including number of enemy personnel, number and type of armored vehicles, size of air force, etc. The U.S. military seems to struggle with understanding those intangible moral factors that Marine Corps leadership recognizes are introduced by the human dimension of warfighting. This is not surprising intangibles are difficult to grasp and impossible to quantify. We cannot easily gauge forces like national and military resolve, national and individual conscience, emotion, fear, courage, morale, leadership, esprit. ii. These and other such factors, referred to as military culture in this article, are powerful influencers in the battlespace, but hard to grasp for the very reason they are intangible. Furthermore, these factors are not only embodied by thy enemies and thyself. Much of Marines interaction with foreign peoples involves working with, rather than against, foreign military personnel. Marine missions across the range of military operations require Marines to understand friendly foreign security forces as well. Thus, the applicability of understanding the other extends beyond exploiting an opponents weaknesses and requires Marines to understand the cultural factors shaping a foreign military in order to use them for mutual benefit.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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