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Cultural Training in the Marine Corps

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Research paper

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A Marine lance corporal from rural Mississippi is on patrol in Fallujah with his platoon attempting to locate insurgents reportedly operating in the neighborhood. While the culture of the local populace is much different than what he experienced at home, the lance corporal received basic cultural training that provided him with an understanding of the Arab culture and prevents him from offending the locals he encounters. His squad leader and platoon sergeant also have received various levels of cultural and language training throughout their careers. This increased training enables the squad to understand and interact effectively and peacefully with the local population, which leads to the collection of information that facilitates the capture of a known insurgent leader. General Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, describes the type of combat environment with which Marines are currently faced in Iraq as Fourth Generation Warfare. Fourth Generation Warfare, or asymmetrical warfare, involves conflict that deviates from the norm of force-on-force warfare. This new warfare concept expands upon the Three Block War described by General Charles Krulak Marines providing humanitarian assistance to the local populace on one block attempting to keep warring tribes, clans, or factions from fighting each other on the next while engaging in high-intensity conflict against an insurgency on the third block. Achieving operational success in a Fourth Generation Warfare environment requires positive interaction between Marines and the local population, and building such relationships requires cultural and linguistic understanding on the part of Marines. To deal with the problems presented in the current and future operational environment, the Marine Corps should implement cultural and linguistic training programs for all Marines, similar to the Foreign Area Officers FAO model.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Linguistics
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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