An American officer presents an invaluable handbook for dealing with cultural issues in the Middle East during military operations.
The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has sent U.S. diplomats and troops around the world. In the current security environment, understanding foreign cultures is crucial to defeating adversaries and working with allies. Lt. Col. William D. Wunderle explains how U.S. soldiers and commanders can look at military interventions—from preparation to execution—through the lens of cultural awareness, while always minding post-conflict stability operations. He also suggests much-needed changes to the traditional intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and the military decision-making process (MDMP). Fascinating, concise, and timely, this is a must-read for military personnel, the intelligence community, and anyone seeking to grasp the motivations and decision-making styles of people all over the globe.
A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East: Using Cultural Understanding to Defeat Adversaries and Win the Peace
2 thoughts on “A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East: Using Cultural Understanding to Defeat Adversaries and Win the Peace”
“A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East” by Lt.Col. Willaim Wunderle could have been titled: “A Manual for Cultural Analysis in Any Country.” Out of 128 pages, barely 28% (35 pages) are specifically devoted to cultural issues/norms regarding `Arab Middle East’ countries, with just a couple of pages pertaining to the theology of Islam itself. The rest of this training manual details the reasons as to WHY it is important for anyone to study the `culture’ (political, economic, sociological, etc.) of any country of interest. What is useful here is that this book details some topics as to HOW to undertake a cultural analysis, but lacks specific polling questions and techniques. Appendix A gives a brief paragraph or two long summary of the major U.S. military `Field Manuals’ pertinent to this topic, although I don’t see FM 41-10 (CA-CMO) being discussed. For those familiar with military briefings, this books presents the 2-hour-long, introductory, `generic overview’ briefing perspective, but you need the specific operations FMs to really understand more of the HOW to make your cultural studies relevant. About 20 useful charts that can be used as slides for the S5-CMO officer putting together a generic, culture-awareness “Ranger Power Point” presentation for a unit deploying to any AO.
Rating: 3 / 5
A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East by Lt. Col. William D. Wunderlie is a detailed book regarding cultural understanding applied to the Middle East. The first two chapters of the book are very academic and provide an in depth understanding of culture and cultural awareness.
Chapter 3: A Primer for Understanding Arabic Culture
In the section titled – Islam and the Role of Religion, Lt. Col. Wunderlie states: “While a number of Arab and Middle Eastern countries are tolerant of religions outside of Islam, there are some basic attitudes toward religion that the US military need to be aware of to understand the influence of religion on Arab behavior.” I completely disagree with the statement that a number of Arab and Middle Eastern countries are tolerant of religions outside of Islam. According to the Qu’ran, hadith’s and Sharia law Islam is not tolerant of any other religion. In fact, those who are outside of Islam are infidels worthy of being killed. I’m not sure if his comment was an example of political correctness but it is factually incorrect and not accurate information to provide to servicemen.
In another section titled – Islamic Views of War, Lt. Col. Wunderlie states: “In accordance with Islam, war is to be conducted with discipline, using a minimum of force to avoid injuring noncombatants”. Even if this is true Al Qaeda has openly stated that civilians are fair game and there is no distinction between the military and civilians. We have seen numerous examples of this in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Wunderlie also states, “The killing of noncombatants or of prisoners of war is strictly forbidden.” Again, there are numerous examples where this is not the case. Those serving in our military must understand that they are fighting individuals and groups who may not prescribe to the information contained in this book.
A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East does provide valuable information and background for those deployed in that area of operations. And while much good information is provided in this book it is important to remember that the Middle East is a very complex environment with a long history, complex culture, language and beliefs.
I do recommend this book with the caveat that the reader must apply the information in a more global perspective as opposed to a limited scope. The enemy wears no uniform, may be part of an organized faction, fighting independently, etc. All these different groups must be regarded as a threat that operates outside of the information provided in this book.
Rating: 4 / 5