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  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 Relevance of Doctrinal Feedback Loops to Operational Culture Training Programs Jennifer Rachels Clarkston, Georgia J_Rachels@lycos.com ABSTRACT The understanding that the culture is relevant to military operations is institutionalized in the planning phase of each mission of the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Army, where “civilian cultural considerations” are considered along with the factors of mission, enemy, human and material resources, terrain, weather, and time. Among social scientists and military planners, civilian cultural factors are known as “human terrain” or “operational culture”. Human terrain shares an important characteristic with other factors in the planning function: it is relative to other factors. As the US seeks to mitigate the effects of prolonged, culturally- and religiously-motivated insurgencies, our military has begun to develop operational culture and language training and education programs in order to increase cultural competencies among servicemen and women at all levels. This paper examines feedback loops used to inform operational language and culture programs. This paper also describes the feedback doctrine for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Culture Center and USMC’s Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL), and the systems created for soliciting feedback for the purposes of training re-design. The role of feedback loops in training and educational program design is well-established. In the military context, discussion and research on feedback loops is too often limited to weapons system operation and human performance. Comparing the feedback loops of operational language and culture learning centers to current doctrine’s After Action Reports and Lessons Learned processes, this paper also asks if current prescribed doctrine of feedback loops are well-suited for cultural training and education programs. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jennifer Rachels is an independent researcher based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has ten years experience in program performance evaluation and the management of compliance for large federal contracts, with a specialization in projects with a wide geographic distribution. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, she has a special interest in intercultural communication. Most recently, she worked supporting the US Army’s Human Terrain System. 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 1 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 Relevance of Doctrinal Feedback Loops to Operational Culture Training Programs Jennifer Rachels Clarkston, Georgia J_Rachels@lycos.com INTRODUCTION: system also includes a lot of inputs that cannot be APPLYING SYSTEMS THEORY TO THE controlled, such as external factors like economic or MILITARY INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEM environmental conditions. These inputs can also react to a process or product of a system and give feedback. This paper examines the formal and informal feedback loops used to inform the continuous improvement The role of feedback loops in training and educational process of operational culture programs delivered to program design is well-established. Soliciting feedback sergeants and other enlisted Marines and Soldiers of the from the field, and incorporating those lessons learned, US military. is the hallmark of sound program management. In the military context, discussion and research on feedback Military doctrine identifies its training programs as a loops is too often limited to training for weapons system1. Indeed, the Army calls its programs, en system operation and human performance. In training masse, the “Total Army Training System”, and doctrine, much attention is devoted to maximizing supporting doctrine includes publications detailing human performance, especially as it relates to physical subsystems such as the “Training Requirements fitness and technical performance under stress. The Analysis System” (TRADOC Regulation 350-70, failure of an effective training program for physical Chapter II-8) and the “Systems Approach to Training: fitness, tactics or a weapons system can have Evaluation” (TRADOC Pamphlet 350-70-4). Like any catastrophic possibilities- providing the impetus to other system, it has inputs (budgetary inputs, staff, and demand high performance of a training program and trainees). Doctrine provides a process for us to use in create a monitoring and evaluation system for this making the outputs (12 Soldiers trained to speak Dari, function. After-Action Reviews (AARs)3 and the use for instance) we need to accomplish our system-wide of evaluators/mentors in practical exercises are the goal or outcome (“…to win our nation’s wars…”2). A continuous improvement methods most often employed broader view of feedback (evaluations of training for feedback on performance. That feedback is also events, for example) could provide us with a greater used to evaluate the effectiveness of the training number of answers from which to draw upon when we program, overall. Furthermore, AARs can be used by approach the challenges that cultural education can training teams to assess their own performance. pose to the US military’s instructional system. This paper asks if the current prescribed doctrine of The concept of “feedback loops” should first be feedback loops are well-suited for cultural training and defined in the broader context of systems theory, education. In particular, this paper is concerned with instructional system design, and the tools used to the collection of knowledge acquired by enlisted collect feedback. Feedback loops are the cycles that a Marines and Soldiers for the betterment of future system uses to self-regulate. At many points in the training and implementation in future deployments. system, there are opportunities for feedback loops to Table 1 provides a sampling of systems theory applied form. An organization looking for growth in other fields of study related to cultural training, with opportunities creates formal processes for collecting an emphasis on feedback loops. information available throughout the system, or takes advantage of the informal opportunities created by the constituents of a system. Feedback can come from 3 From Army FM 25-101: “An AAR is a review…that internal sources, such as the people carrying out allows soldiers, leaders, and units to discover for processes, or the end users of a system’s product. But themselves what happened during the training and why... AARs are not critiques because they do not 1 Italics added by the author to highlight and determine success or failure; rather, AARs are demonstrate basic terms of systems theory. professional discussions of training events. 2 from the Regular US Army Mission Statement 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 2 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 Table 1. A sampling of systems theory applied in relevant fields of study How systems theory is Field applied How the feedback concept is applied Reference works Management of The health of an Feedback is based on expectations vs. Edwards, Jeffrey R. human organization is related to reality, market demands, and/or the ability (1992). A cybernetic performance the responses of its of an individual to cope with performance theory of stress, employees to stressors pressure. Feedback from stressors enters coping, and well-being such as performance the system when an employee looks at in organizations. The standards, work performance expectations, or their own Academy of conditions, and personal motivations, and determines that their Management Review, problems. current situation is acceptable (or not). vol. 17, no. 2 (April), 238-274. Information Information seeking and Feedback loops, in information science, Spink, Amanda (1997). science retrieval behaviors are are the processes that a user creates to Information science: a similar to social science determine the relevance of the third feedback models and cybernetic information retrieved by a query. If a framework. Journal of systems theory in that query results in irrelevant information, a the American Society they have an interactive user changes the query’s semantics to for Information nature indicative of achieve the desired results. The user can Science, vol. 48, no. 8, feedback loops. also rate the relative importance of 728-740.4 retrieved items (as with a google search). Knowledge Systems theory In single-loop learning, feedback is Argyris, C & Schon, management and principles can be applied incorporated and a process is changed, D.A. (1978). organizational to create desired results but the underlying assumptions of the Organizational learning for organizations process are unchanged. Double-loop learning: a theory of (modeling). learning uses feedback to expose action perspective. behaviors that protect dysfunctional Reading, MA: Addison underlying assumptions. Wesley However, it is useful to define what we mean by AN OVERVIEW OF CULTURAL TRAINING “cultural training and education”. The U.S. military AND EDUCATION IN THE US MILITARY makes a distinction between training and education (another debate not included here), and in terms of The context for cultural competency training and training for cultural competency there is much literature cultural knowledge education in support of a view that generally applicable cultural competency skills (learned in training) can be isolated Cross-cultural training facilitates effective cross- from cultural knowledge (acquired in education)5. cultural interaction by reducing misunderstandings and inappropriate behaviors (Black & Mendenhall, 1990). The understanding that the culture is relevant to For the purposes of this paper, we do not distinguish military operations is institutionalized in the planning between training for understanding and utilizing phase of each mission of the US Marine Corps cultural information for warfighting or for stability (USMC) and the Army, where “civilian cultural operations. Furthermore, this paper assumes the considerations” are considered along with the factors of doctrinal debate concerning the intensity, depth, and mission, enemy, human and material resources, terrain, utility of training for cultural competency is settled, to weather, and time. Among social scientists and military the extent that cultural competency training is currently planners, civilian cultural factors are known as “human integrated into pre-deployment training for all terrain” or “operational culture”. As it seeks to servicemembers. neutralize prolonged insurgencies, the US military has 5 Sharon Leiba-O’Sullivan’s 1999 article “The 4 This resource is also particularly useful for those distinction between stable and dynamic cross-cultural looking for a history of the development of systems competencies: Implications for expatriate trainability” theory, and the divergence of the understanding of the (Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 30, No. feedback phenomenon among information science, 4, 709-725) provides a comprehensive discussion of social science, and cybernetics. this. 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 3 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 begun to develop language and culture training and education programs in order to increase cultural Fig. 1. Cultural training and education centers of the competency among servicemen and women at all levels US military to further the counterinsurgency (COIN) effort (Holmes & Salmoni, 2008 and Chandler, 2005). US Army JFK Special Warfare Center & School Current state of cultural education Center for Army Lessons Learned Iraqi Training Program Army Intelligence Center & School In the military context, the understanding of culture Combined Arms Center University of Foreign Military must be operationally relevant. A full academic & Cultural Studies at Ft Leavenworth understanding of anthropology or linguistics is not TRADOC Culture Center necessary. The type and amount of training a Army Research Institute servicemember can receive differs according to the nature and requirements of the branch and the US Navy servicemember’s Military Occupational Specialty Center for Civil Military Relations- Leader because some are in contact with the local population Development & Education for Sustained Peace more than others. For all branches, area-specific Program (LDSEP) Center for Contemporary Conflict- Regional Security cultural knowledge is gained through predeployment Education Program (RSEP) training and educational courses offered in the Center for Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture Professional Military Education curriculum. To (CLREC) address this, the Navy and Air Force have established similar requirements for cultural competence at the US Navy/USMC basic level, in line with the view of cultural competence Naval Postgraduate School/USMC TECOMM Training as a teachable skill separate from cultural education, Tactical Culture for Marine Expeditionary Forces which focuses on more area-specific knowledge. As an (TCMEF), Predeployment Training Support Program expeditionary force, the Marines have adopted an USMC instructional system that trains every Marine to assess Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning “operational culture” through a set of prescribed (CAOCL) questions. For training at its most basic level the Army has focused on predeployment training and the creation Joint Special Ops University (JSOU) of several quick reference tools for language and Middle East Orientation Course (MEOC) culture. Cross-Cultural Communications Course (CCC) Each branch has developed at least one center for University of Military Intelligence Iraq Cultural Awareness & Training cultural learning serving the needs of its operations (See Fig 1.); and each has its own distinct philosophical US Air Force Culture and Language Center and academic frameworks through which they present and utilize cultural information6. All programs, as part of their planning and quality control processes, administer AARs and paper-based post-instruction During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the evaluations required by branch doctrine. However, ad Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) hoc cultural training programs, taking place as we learned that deployments drained vital “homegrown” speak as part of the handover between units cycling in skills from the instructional system (including language and out of Afghanistan and Iraq, have no such doctrinal and certain combat training), and that structure or quality control processes. These handover noncommissioned officer training was deferred for a programs, some with handbooks and official significant number of enlisted Soldiers (US Army acknowledgement, provide both officers and enlisted TRADOC, 1992). This experience may inform the servicemembers with vital and up-to-date cultural current self-diagnosed “shortage” of cultural experts information. (McFate, 2008; US House, 2008; CADS, 2006). Contractors fill this perceived gap with staff from 6 The Marines Center for Advanced Operational academia and former (or current) nationals of the Culture Learning (CAOCL) has published a book countries with which we are at war. detailing the philosophical foundations of their view of “operational culture”: Operational Culture for the THE ROLE AND EFFECTS OF MILITARY Warfighter. DOCTRINE 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 4 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 hoped that the Army can better track resources, provide COIN doctrine: a source for training requirements timely and accurate knowledge about missions and the area of operations, and share information across COIN doctrine for Soldiers and Marines, detailed in organizational lines. Field Manual 3-24 (MCWF 3-33.5), drives cultural training requirements and affects the feedback loops Section 6-01.1 determines that cultural knowledge is used to improve training. not well-suited for “codification” (such as digital storage in a database). Instead, in guidelines for how to Training of Host-Nation (HN) security forces, a best supply the Army with the information it needs for primary task of COIN, requires intercultural skills. FM operational requirements (see Fig. 2), Section 6-01.1 3-24 directs the HN Security force trainer to the deems cultural knowledge more appropriate for what it importance of “Respecting the HN culture, but learning calls the “personalization strategy”. In its list of items to distinguish between cultural practices and excuses” more appropriate for personalization are both cultural in paragraph 6-59, and elaborates in 6-60: awareness and “coordinating activities between rival U.S. forces should show respect for local religions tribes in an austere area of operations”. Not that this and traditions. Soldiers and Marines should sort of “tacit knowledge” should go unrecorded: 6-01.1 willingly accept many aspects of the local and makes a point of noting that “information technology national culture…U.S. forces must make clear that enables both”- and specifically mentions the they do not intend to undermine or change the local development of virtual social networks for the religion or traditions. However, Soldiers and distribution of cultural knowledge. Paragraph 1-60: Marines have a mission to reduce the effects of “Commanders can use KM processes and information dysfunctional social practices that affect the ability systems…to access training resources that…improve to conduct effective security operations. U.S. Soldiers’ cultural awareness. These resources can trainers and advisors must have enough awareness provide a continuous shared knowledge network to identify and stop inappropriate behavior. between the generating force and the operational Army.” Clearly, Soldiers trained for and capable of this have lessons learned available for collection, but COIN doctrine is not the appropriate source to provide us with a system for capturing those lessons- it only drives the need for cultural training and education (McFate, 2008), and the requirement for a shortened feedback loop for operational cultural knowledge. Knowledge management doctrine: how cultural information is collected and stored for reintroduction into the training system Doctrine treats the collection and re-distribution of cultural knowledge as a subset of knowledge Figure 2. Range of Knowledge Management management (KM). The doctrine of the Army is Strategies7 significant here because the sheer size of their force creates an acute need for managing the information Section 6-01.1’s discussion on the structure of Army- their operations generate and require. The doctrine supported virtual communities further describes how relevant to developing feedback loops for KM can be information technologies could enable the transfer of found in FM 6-0 Mission Command: Command and cultural knowledge. It describes a hierarchical system Control of Army Forces, specifically in the Knowledge (in order from the highest degree of management Management Section 6-01.1. It contains an exhaustive required): communities of purpose, communities of overview of how to conduct AARs, one-on-one practice, knowledge centers, communities of interest, interviews, and surveys. In the introduction, the and informal networks. manual describes the purpose of KM, in Army terms: to reduce the amount of time it takes to respond to requests for information. Instead of “knowledge is power”, the mantra of Army KM is “shared knowledge 7 is power”. By exercising sound KM principles, it is from FM 6-01.1 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 5 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 This system of supported online groups provides an One expression of the development of innovation, as opportunity for knowledge exchange among enlisted driven by operational requirements, is the “strategic servicemembers about cultural information. In sergeant”. Described in depth by Major Jennifer conjunction with conducting AARs for the purposes of Chandler (2005) and Maj. General Robert H. Scales training program evaluation, there should be significant (2006), among others, a strategic sergeant is an enlisted institutional infrastructure for feeding the most accurate Soldier tasked with decisionmaking and planning and operational cultural information to the training responsibilities that would have been considered system. higher-level purview just a few years ago. Even among the junior enlisted, especially those engaged in small HOW CULTURAL COMPETENCY TRAINING group urban warfare and stability operations, there is a AND CULTURAL EDUCATION documented shift in their decisionmaking IS CHALLENGING MILITARY DOCTRINE responsibilities (Chandler, 2005 and Scales, 2006). Although cultural training and education would be Feedback loops and “the imperative for a culture of powerful tools in these types of operations, few innovation” incentives to continue cultural education in PME exist (U.S. House, 2006). In their 2004 article “Adapt or Die: The Imperative for a Culture of Innovation in the United States Army”, Training for cultural competency poses another Brigadier General David A. Fastabend and Robert H. challenge to military doctrine in that the fields of Simpson argue for doctrine more connected to creating business management and international development a learning culture instead of functioning as a limiting dominate cultural training program research (Black & factor. The authors say: “Process is important, but Mendenhall, 1990). Behaviors that are the earmarks of excessive focus on process versus product significantly success in the business and development environments impedes innovation.” They describe an Army already (acculturation, assimilation and cooperation), might leaning toward an “end run”-type process for feedback. represent a failure when planning operations in the “Rather than wait for our processes to optimize or adversarial military environment. Furthermore, the evolve our current solutions, professional military sheer speed with which recently learned information judgment and task-oriented teams can expeditiously must be utilized and shared with cohorts requires a devise significant alternatives outside the normal shorter feedback loop than that of more cooperative process. Instead of process constraining products, environments. products drive process- the process is inherently adaptive.” Existing academic research does support the military’s view that, at least for cultural training and education, And why, would Fastabend and Simpson say, is there exists a distinction between training (skill innovation important? Because the wars we fight now development) and education (information exchange). (and probably for the future) require jointness The dominant view of the management field- which (warfighting in conjunction with other branches and generates the majority of the research available on even other countries’ forces) and an expeditionary cultural training- is that there are capabilities inherent mindset. Both requirements are derived from COIN, in a personality, or general skills obtained over a and both are also assisted by troops trained for lifetime, called “stable competencies”, that have a intercultural exchange. The same strict processes that direct affect on the ability of a person to succeed in constrain innovation in process and planning, therefore, cross-cultural interactions. More indirect effects on may constrain our ability to train for war and the cross-cultural interactions come from “dynamic military activities other than war (like stability competencies” such as the knowledge of history or operations) in which we find ourselves involved. language competency (Leiba-O'Sullivan, 1999), but it Fastabend and Simpson are not alone in their urgency. is dynamic competencies that are more “trainable”. In 2003, Colonel Clinton Ancher, III and Lt. Colonel This pedagogical agreement between military doctrine Michael D. Burke said this in the conclusion of a piece and management practice in cultural training programs about doctrine and asymmetric warfare: “To what implies a reconsideration of the current training and extent is current frustration with asymmetric opponents education system as it applies to cultural programs. and operations the product of Industrial-Age theory Training programs for the Army should be adjusted to attempting to direct Information-Age operations? Are identify stable cultural competencies applicable to the there indications that older doctrinal concepts are military setting, and creating different feedback systems becoming invalid?” for stable and dynamic competencies. The Air Force, 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 6 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 Navy and Marines already utilize this approach, but the Section 6-01.1 points out a challenge not related to Army does not. usual KM topics such as counting vehicles or storing historical data on troop movements: when it comes to The limitations of AARs cultural information, context is essential. In paragraph 1-22, it says, The main limitation of the AAR system is that- …context for military purposes is the operational although the AAR process is very well-developed- the environment within which the knowledge was two places in the training system that it is most likely to created. Context identifies the applicable occur are not appropriate for the transfer of cultural operational or mission variables and shows how knowledge. Even when culture is a factor in the they affect the outcome of applying the knowledge. exercise, AARs that occur at the end of exercises may For example, a lesson learned in Afghanistan might focus on tactical performance, an individual’s not apply to a similar problem in Iraq due to performance of a technical skill, or on assigning cultural differences, geography, or religion. If the responsibility for corrective action. AARs occurring at knowledge’s context is not included…the meaning the end of a deployment result in the collection of of the knowledge may be distorted. The result may whatever information can be recalled at the end of a be a misapplied lesson… long deployment. Moments of cultural understanding are so ephemeral, and so quickly integrated into the While “the Army does not usually support informal learner’s behavior, that the learner may not be able to networks” (which the sections defines as “large, recall them later (Black & Mendenhall, 1990). extensive communities” who interact with one another but have few common bonds or mission focus”, Evaluating contractor programs, feedback and the discussing “nonprofessional areas” via IM and email), requirement for operational knowledge it does foster the development of other networks. However, language in the Section suggests that The use of contractors can interrupt the feedback that membership in the top two levels of virtual would normally provide information to trainers on how communities is restricted to Army leadership and to improve their product. The geographic distribution requires a significant investment of time, hardware and of training facilities and the sheer number of trainees software for the individual. Furthermore, both creates the need for several simultaneous contracts, communities of purpose and communities of practice awarded either to companies are individual trainers are characterized as virtual communities that provide who will probably never meet one another, and who another outlet for a group that already knows one deliver their own curricula. Each of these contractors another8, and are not necessarily knowledge transfer may consider their curricula, supporting materials, and centers. The middle levels of the virtual community even their end-of-course evaluations as intellectual structure- knowledge centers and communities of property (GAO, 2002; Gropman, 2008). interest- are equally awkward fits for the transfer of cultural competence knowledge from lower level To the extent that a contractor would self-evaluate their Soldiers to one another. Knowledge centers are performance, this evaluation would most likely be done repositories of information that are highly variable in in the context of sheets of paper handed out at the end their organization. Army Knowledge Online (AKO) of a course or an online survey. Contractors may not serves as home to hundreds of knowledge centers- most have access to redeployment briefings, and the lag time protected by additional passwords- and their hundreds from cultural lessons learned to debrief is so long that of thousands of associated documents. For their part, the information gathered is of limited utility. communities of interest are described as simple hobby Generalized high performance on surveys, tests, and groups. exercises can indicate that a training program is compliant with doctrine, and was effective because Because Section 6-01.1 treats cultural knowledge as most trainees understood and used the material secondary type of knowledge in relation to historical presented. However, if the cultural information learned operational requirements and equipment control, the is not operational, then we have created a false tools developed to collect and manage knowledge impression of the program’s value. according to the manual’s doctrine are a poor fit for culture. Fastabend and Simpson (2004) called into The limitations of applying KM doctrine to cultural question the ability of the Army to innovate based on information 8 “75-80% of the conversations among members of communities of practice occur outside those forums” 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 7 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 informal communication, and pushed for doctrinal instructional examples of what sort of systems could be support for innovation. This, in turn, leads us to utilized in the military context. In 2003, a group of question the utility of the lower order virtual networks returned volunteers independently created the Peace to provide an outlet for the exchange of cultural Corps Wiki, a community “open” website where users information- but it is these lower order social networks can create and edit entries for the country where they to which Army KM has assigned this task. In its serve. On the Wiki, there are some volunteer “gurus” assertion that information technology supports both the who act as the gatekeepers for a particular part of the codification and personalization strategies for site, and all edits of that portion go through them. The presenting knowledge and is therefore able to support a depth, accuracy, and breadth of information available feedback system for cultural information- Section 6- there is breathtaking, considering that it is a volunteer- 01.1 is correct. Major Jennifer Chandler says this led enterprise. about the feedback system required for predeployment cultural training (PDT): The recent announcement by the Army that seven Ideally, the PDT(s) would also establish a manuals will be opened, wiki-style, to comments and feedback process. This could include contact with improvements from Soldiers indicates that this bottom- personnel in the operational environment, other up method of feedback is taking hold in the Army agencies and think tank analysts, as well as the doctrinal system. However, the manuals offered for planning, intelligence, and influence operations wiki comments are not related to cultural issues. personnel preparing to deploy. The feedback Furthermore, Army culture may prevent the full process would also solicit input and feedback realization of the wiki method for feedback, as well- from individuals going through the training known war blogger and Iraq veteran Brandon program, and from individuals returning from Friedman, and many comments on the Small Wars deployment. Analysis and incorporation of the Journal blog posting, pointed out. In this case, the feedback and the networking into a pre- Army will require all feedback to be identified by the deployment training program would enable the author’s name and rank- antithetical to the spirit of material to be tailored to the individuals and unit wiki. The results of this experiment may have needs. The diverse networking and feedback significant ramification for cultural training feedback. systems would provide PDT(s) with a standardized, empirically-based, peer-reviewed, The maturation of milblogs, and their possible objective methodology and framework from contribution to collecting feedback which to train today’s military. It would also enable the military to successfully operate within In late April of 2009, Military.com, USAA, BAE the SASO [Stability and Support Operations] and Systems and several other sponsors hosted the 2009 “strategic sergeant” realities. (54) MilBlog conference in Washington, DC. Major General Michael Oates, author of the blog The systems that “strategic sergeants” would use, taskforcemountain, called in to the conference from however, are not part of the formal systems supported Iraq and gave his unqualified support to the by doctrine. milblogging community. The Pentagon hosted an open house, which almost topped the previous year’s CLOSING CHANDLER’S LOOP: TOOLS & highlight- an address by General Casey. The CONCEPTS FOR COLLECTING FEEDBACK Combined Arms Center actually paid someone named FROM “STRATEGIC SERGEANTS” “subbob” to Twitter the entire conference. Clearly, milbloggers are now on the good side of the Army. Following the lead of the Peace Corps This conference represents the evolution of the Army’s The United States Peace Corps could tell us where the thinking about blogs. Only a few years ago, a Soldiers’ future of cultural education feedback is heading. The blog could get him into a lot of trouble. Still, a strict Peace Corps has delivered its own sort of operational reading of DoD policy requires that every post of every culture training program for more than 40 years, and blog be approved before it is published. All the Institute for Defense Analyses acknowledges the independent blogs authored by servicemembers still Peace Corps leadership in the cultural training field must carry a disclaimer tag, and bloggers may not (IDA, 2008). The Peace Corps has debriefing and release information about their location or specific post-instruction evaluation systems similar to that of the US military, so it is the informal feedback systems created by returned Volunteers that provides 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 8 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 activities9. Blogs are occasionally shut down for a actually limit its utility. A recent relaunch effort may variety of reasons, but as of June 1, 2009, the feed change this, but it remains to be seen. aggregator at milblogging.com contains over 2,322 blogs in 43 countries with 7,637 registered readers. A.L.L. = Afghanistan Lessons Learned for Soldiers Some blogs are officially sanctioned by the Army and hosted on .mil sites, but blogs of individual Soldiers, Hosted on a blogging site, A.L.L. is actually not a blog. are hosted on free platforms (BlogSpot, typepad, and It is written by several familiar milbloggers (Old Blue, WordPress are three of the most common platforms). Bouhammer, WOTN and VAMPIRE 06), who instead A cursory glimpse of these self-publishing sites reveals of using dates, created chapters about everything a a wealth of information about the digestive complaints Soldier may need to know about Afghanistan. There and living arrangements of Soldiers and Marines, but are mundane topics areas, such as what type of lube to we can also glean information about the intercultural pack for their weapons, but a majority of the content is experiences that Soldiers and Marines are having with dedicated to detailed accounts of the human terrain of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and other United different regions. The site went up April 29, 2009, and Nations and Multi-National Forces participants. by June 1, the site had 8,000 unique visitors and 35 comments on about a dozen posts. The future of this There has not been a concerted effort to analyze blog content could be better served with a Wiki site similar content for reasons other than compliance with to that created by returned Peace Corps volunteers. operational security policies. Imagine however, if these milbloggers were told to blog about something…even iSoldier for one day (a common occurrence in the blogosphere for advocacy efforts). What if a Soldier could register Nick Masellis (2009) suggests that younger Soldiers, his blog as an input for a particular training issue or who are more comfortable with technology, could even what if someone was assigned this task when they were use an iPhone-like device (which he calls an “iSoldier”) deployed? When viewed this way, blogging is revealed to log many of the training tasks (cultural, language, to be an untapped resource for feedback into cultural and even physical training) required of a Soldier. He training programs. suggests that this device take the place of the laptop, and as long as a user could enter in information as Small Wars Journal (SWJ) though he were text messaging it is even possible to use this type of device to complete reports. This device SWJ is an online journal, blog, chat room, and social could also be used to enter in cultural information network that is run by volunteers, a “Council” of (automatic GPS stamps give the context required) and regular contributors, “practitioners” of “small wars”, to download applications that may assist a Soldier in and scholars. SWJ describes itself as a community of the field as he encounters communication problems interest focusing on COIN, but it also can provide us a when he trains HNs. model for collecting feedback and creating a community around the sharing of cultural information. CONCLUSIONS The membership is made up of retired and current military personnel from all ranks, graduate students, Tools like blogs, wikis, and handheld devices offer researchers, contractors, and curious parties from all opportunities for the US military to formalize the over the world. In short, the membership looks a lot informal feedback systems already being utilized by like Major Chandler’s vision of the feedback loop for military servicemembers. But managing all of this cultural training. With hundreds of daily posts and knowledge- and putting in back into the training nearly 3,000 members, the SWJ’s user-friendly layout system- is an even greater challenge. The Section 6.01- and tolerant community spirit show how useful an 1 provides a rather shocking example of the state of online forum could be. KM when the US entered Afghanistan: No centralized repository existed for information However, a similar Noncommissioned Officers forum about operations. Answers to information sponsored by the Army has not been widely used. It requirements existed in individual e-mail messages has the same “information dump” effect of AKO’s only. Subordinate units e-mailed electronic slide limitless document storage capabilities, which may presentations to the chief of operations. The chief of operations forwarded them to appropriate staff sections and stored the presentations in personal 9 Policy relevant to blog publishing can be found at folder storage files. These files contained well over FICI-CE-I, MNC-I Policy #9; and Army Regulation 530-1. four gigabytes of data. 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 9 of 11
  • Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2009 trainers have been working to shorten the lessons- This finding was made in the process of determining learned feedback loop from deployment to how many operations, conducted in the immediately deployment…he or she must be a Soldier or previous 30 days, required air support. If the Marine who has recently deployed operationally to experience of the Army KM doctrine development the AO in a job requiring ongoing interaction with team is any indication, there is already a multitude of the indigenous population--the division combat cultural information available for improving our operations center watch officer from OIF-I will not cultural training programs, but it is inaccessible. do. MOS is not important here; interaction with Iraqis on a regular basis is. Furthermore, returning servicemembers themselves are a great resource for cultural training, and are perhaps In order to feed the most relevant cultural information underutilized in favor of academic or doctrinal trainers. back into the training system, then perhaps we should In their article “Advances in Predeployment Culture consider the USMC approach more generally. If Training: The U.S. Marine Corps Approach”, Barak doctrine does not allow for innovations like this, Salmoni and and Paula Holmes-Eber write: analyzing information shared in informal networks and Instead of generalist historians, religion specialists, blogs, or other information sharing-methods, then the and journalists, younger personnel who combined greatest problem to overcome in terms on improving recent operational experience with academic study, cultural training and education programs may not be site visits, and debriefing of returning units expertise or technological tools, but doctrine. conducted the training. In this respect, cultural REFERENCES Academy of Management Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (April), 238-274. Afghanistan Lessons Learned for Soldiers, found at Fastabend, BG David A., & Simpson, Robert H. http://afghanlessons.blogspot.com/ (2004). Adapt or die: The imperative for a culture of Ancher, Col. Clinton J. and Burke, Lt. Col. M.D. innovation in the United States Army. Army (2003). Doctrine for asymmetric warfare. Military Magazine, Vol. 54, No. 2, February Review, July-August, 18-25. Field Manual 3-24.2: Counterinsurgency. (2008). Argyris, C. and Schon, D.A. (1978). Organizational Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective, Reading, Army. (also known as Marine Corps Warfighting MA: Addison Wesley Publication 3-33.5) Black, J. Stewart & Mendenhall, J. Stewart (1990). Field Manual 6-01.1: Mission Command: Command Cross-cultural training effectiveness: A review and and Control of Army Forces, Knowledge theoretical framework for future research. The Management Section. (2008). Washington, DC: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, Headquarters, Department of the Army. 113-136. Friedman, Brandon. (2009, June 29). Let’s not Caldwell, Lt. Gen William B. (2009, July 3). Want to smother the new Army manual wiki. Message posted change Army doctrine? Do something! Message to posted to http://www.vetvoice.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=C http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/07/want-to- B25C5D120A0DB0891E958979641066C?diaryId=2 change-army-doctrine-d/ 910. Center for Advanced Defense Studies (CADS). (2006). Government Accounting Office. (2002). Intellectual Defense Concepts Series: Cultural Intelligence and Property: Industry and Agency Concerns Over the United States Military. Washington, DC: CADS Intellectual Property Rights. Washington, DC: Staff. Government Printing Agency. Chandler, Jennifer V. (2005). Why Culture Matters: Gropman, Alan L. (2008, January). Government needs An Empirically-Based Pre-deployment Training to reexamine rules for contractors. National Defense Program. Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School Magazine, January 2008, unpaginted. Dunphy, Dexter, Turner D., & Crawford, M (1997). Holmes-Eber, Paula & Salmoni, B. (2008). Organizational learning as the creation of coporate Operational culture for Marines: A five-dimensional competencies. Journal of Management approach to understanding cultural concepts. Marine Development, Vol. 16, No. 4, 232-244. Corps Gazette, May 2008, 72-77. Edwards, Jeffrey R. (1992). A cybernetic theory of Institute for Defense Analyses. (2008). Framing the stress, coping, and well-being in organizations. The cultural training landscape: phase 1 findings. 2009 Paper No. 9465 Page 10 of 11
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