Cultural Understanding in U.S. Army Doctrine

04.06.15 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“Understanding culture is essential in conducting irregular warfare.”

That is the opening sentence in the introduction to a new U.S. Army publication on Cultural and Situational Understanding.

“Irregular warfare requires a deliberate application of an understanding of culture due to the need to understand a populated operational environment, what specifically is causing instability, the nature of the threat, and the ability to work with host-nation governments and security forces.”

The new Army doctrine on cultural understanding emerges from and builds upon existing Army counterinsurgency doctrine. It is “outward looking” and does not pause to contemplate the cultural foundations of the Army itself. See Cultural and Situational Understanding, Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-24.3, April 2015.

Update: For a critical perspective on this document, see The US Army’s Serial Plagiarists by Roberto Gonzalez, Counterpunch, May 1, 2015, and The Quiet Death of ATP 3-24.3 (A Plagiarism Postmortem), May 7, 2015.