Lost in Translation: The Importance of Retaining Army Sociocultural Capabilities in an Era of Persistent Conflict
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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The U.S. Army continues to struggle with developing an enduring means of providing commanders and staffs with operationally relevant, sociocultural knowledge that enhances a units understanding of the operational environment. Military history provides numerous examples of how the U.S. military habitually neglects to realize the importance of sociocultural factors at the outset of a conflict, particularly those of an irregular nature. Then, after operating at a disadvantage, it develops a means to bridge the gap, only to quickly abandon it once the conflict is over. Sadly, the Army is on track to repeat this trend once again. This monograph examines U.S. Army efforts to build a culturally competent tactical force as well as address the capabilities provided by the Human Terrain System, its primary means of providing sociocultural research and analysis in support of decision-making to tactical and operational units. This monograph finds that the U.S. Army must preserve its sociocultural capabilities and reassess its approach to how it will meet emerging requirements in the post-Operation Enduring Freedom environment. Additionally, the Army must not simply pay lip service to the importance of cultural knowledge, it has to ensure the capability is properly resourced and articulated to policymakers given the likelihood of operating in a fiscally constrained, increasingly complex future operating environment.
- Sociology and Law