PUBLIC INTERFACE AND THE CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING GAP<br />ENGAGING CONGRESS AND THE PUBLIC TO SUPPORT TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF...
“[W]hatever their fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction.  <br />...
What follows is one suggestion as to how to improve civil-military relations using existing Army programs and regulations....
Civilian Culture <br />Military Culture <br />As of 2009 less than 8% of the Nation’s total population has served in the U...
Culture is based on shared experiences….<br />At the same time this shift has occurred the operational tempo of our armed ...
Culture Differences<br />“Culture is what a group learns over a period of time as that group solves its problems of surviv...
Civil-Military Relations<br />Military organizations are unlike any other social institutions in contemporary American soc...
Assimilate or adapt?<br />Even if it were desirable to attempt to move the culture norms of our military organizations clo...
Military vs. Civilian culture<br />Whatever the predominant civilian culture, it springs from a very different set of need...
What difference does it make?<br />The existence and importance of a “civil-military” gap has been exhaustively debated in...
To mitigate negative effects caused by the gap, we need to build personal relationships.<br />Cultural understanding<br />...
“Interface”<br />The core problem is one of interface. Unlike most other public sector institutions the general public has...
Four Sectors of Society<br />Frank Hoffman* described civil-military relations as the set of relationships between four se...
Using The Army’s Established Framework to Improve External Relations<br />There are many existing Army regulations which p...
The Task of the Public Affairs Command<br />Analyze existing Army programs for interface promotion potential.<br />Charact...
The Process<br />Step One<br />identify programs in which interface either already occurs or can be readily developed<br /...
An Example Using the Army Congressional Fellowship Program<br />ACFP program is designed to educate selected Army Officers...
ACFP Continued<br />From the perspective of interface development, the time that service members spend working with congre...
ACFP Continued<br />The program is designed primarily to educate Army Officers.<br />To maximize interface benefits rechar...
ACFP Continued<br />Work with congress to set up permanent positions on professional staff to be filled by Army Officers<b...
Summary of Policy Recommendations<br />I suggest that an office be created with the Army Public Affairs command that would...
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Public interface and the cultural understanding gap

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Public interface and the cultural understanding gap

  1. 1. PUBLIC INTERFACE AND THE CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING GAP<br />ENGAGING CONGRESS AND THE PUBLIC TO SUPPORT TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROFESSION OF ARMS<br />Brandon J. Robers<br />
  2. 2. “[W]hatever their fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction. <br />A distant and unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally. <br />Even after 9/11, in the absence of a draft, for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, <br /> no matter how laudable, <br />has become something for other people to do.” <br /> Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Duke University, September 29, 2010<br />
  3. 3. What follows is one suggestion as to how to improve civil-military relations using existing Army programs and regulations.<br />
  4. 4. Civilian Culture <br />Military Culture <br />As of 2009 less than 8% of the Nation’s total population has served in the U.S. military. 65% out of these veterans are 55 years old or older. <br />Among the 535 members of the 11th Congress, 120 have served in the military. While this measure is greater than the proportion among the general population, it has been declining (there were 126 in the 110th congress). <br />As the majority of veterans move into retirement it is likely that the percentage of representatives with military experience will continue to decline.<br />Even within our veteran population the level of understanding of the modern military culture may not be as high as it might appear at first blush, as the military culture that exists today is not the military culture that existed 40 years ago. <br />Perceptions of what life in the military means that are based on service that concluded decades ago may not be entirely in line with the realities of modern service. <br />
  5. 5. Culture is based on shared experiences….<br />At the same time this shift has occurred the operational tempo of our armed forces, especially our land forces, has increased dramatically. <br />Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 slightly more than 2 million Soldiers and Marines have been deployed into combat zones. Of these more than 790,000 individuals have served two or more combat tours. <br />The War on Terror is now the longest conflict in American history, yet in almost ten years less than one percent of the U.S. population has served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. <br />Because cultural development stems largely from shared experience and struggle, this intense operational tempo has helped solidify, within a comparatively small segment of the total U.S. population, the cultural distinctions long recognized between the countries civilian and military populations. <br />That the Army must do a better job of communicating with civilian and political leaders is well known within the organization. <br />
  6. 6. Culture Differences<br />“Culture is what a group learns over a period of time as that group solves its problems of survival in an external environment and its problems of internal integration.”*<br />“The culture that has grown up within the Army, and our other military institutions, derives from the unique demands of war fighting and combat survival.”**<br />Both the survival and integration challenges faced by our military organizations are fundamentally different from those faced in most corners of civil society. Unless we intend to fundamentally alter the role of the military in American society it makes little sense to push our military organizations to reform an aspect of their identity that derives from and contributes to their battlefield success.<br />* MIT organizational psychologist Edgar H. Schein, “Organizational Culture,” American Psychologist, Feb. 1990<br />** John Hillen, “Must U.S. Military Culture Reform?”, 43 ORBIS 152, 152-70 (1990)<br />
  7. 7. Civil-Military Relations<br />Military organizations are unlike any other social institutions in contemporary American society. Virtually all modern military sociologists have come to view modern militaries as highly professionalized social institutions.<br /> In its findings in the section 571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 congress declared that “Military life is fundamentally different from civilian life,”<br />
  8. 8. Assimilate or adapt?<br />Even if it were desirable to attempt to move the culture norms of our military organizations closer to those of American civil society, it is unclear what which norms we would ascribe to civil society. <br />There are wide variety of cultures across the country.<br />The point is that there is no one civilian culture in America. If anything, the unifying aspect of these cultures is that they are not military. However, if we are defining this group by what it is not does it really make sense to say that we should encourage the military to become less “military like.” I think not.<br />
  9. 9. Military vs. Civilian culture<br />Whatever the predominant civilian culture, it springs from a very different set of needs. That the cultures are different is not itself the problem. Rather, it is the lack of cultural awareness and social tolerance that should be of primary concern. <br />In short, the military culture derives from the imperatives of combat survival and so should not be changed to more closely conform to civilian society. Civilian culture in the United States varies widely by locale, and even in its universally shared elements is in no need of adjustment in favor of military ways. <br />The cultures need not be conformed to one another, they only need be exposed to one another so that a relationship of mutual trust and understanding can develop. <br />
  10. 10. What difference does it make?<br />The existence and importance of a “civil-military” gap has been exhaustively debated in the academic literature and popular media.<br />The “civil-military” gap exists, but it is natural and probably unavoidable. <br />Our focus should not be on “closing the gap” but on mitigating its negative effects. <br />Cultural understanding is the goal, not cultural homogeneity. <br />
  11. 11. To mitigate negative effects caused by the gap, we need to build personal relationships.<br />Cultural understanding<br />Personal relationship building is the key to cultural understanding and cultural understanding leads to good relations.<br />Declining military participation reduces cultural awareness. There are fewer points of interface between the non-military public and the military (either active or veteran population) so….<br />….we need to establish new points of interface through an outreach effort directed at the public at large and political leaders.<br />Because….<br />
  12. 12. “Interface”<br />The core problem is one of interface. Unlike most other public sector institutions the general public has little opportunity to build a direct relationship with our military organizations and so does not have an opportunity to form an opinion of the value of the organization based on personal experience. <br />Interface with military organizations comes in two primary forms, (1) direct military service, and (2) contact with current or separated service members.<br />Given the general decline in military participation rates it is important, from the perspective of the military organization, to communicate the core aspects of its culture and mission to the general public and political leaders. To do this, I will argue, the military must engage a portion of its considerable resources in general outreach and organization promotion apart from its established recruiting functions.<br />Because of the decline in military participation rates, a new form of direct interface is now needed. <br />
  13. 13. Four Sectors of Society<br />Frank Hoffman* described civil-military relations as the set of relationships between four sectors of society:<br />(1) military elites<br />(2) the military writ large<br /> (3) American political elites, and <br />(4) the American civil society<br />
  14. 14. Using The Army’s Established Framework to Improve External Relations<br />There are many existing Army regulations which provide a structure already in place. For example:<br /> AR 260-1 <br />(The Army Public Affairs Program)<br /> AR 1-202<br />(Army Congressional Fellowship Program)<br />Modifying those regulations will make them work better for interface.<br />
  15. 15. The Task of the Public Affairs Command<br />Analyze existing Army programs for interface promotion potential.<br />Characterize existing points of interface using Hoffman’s four categories of relationships.<br />Make recommendations as to how existing programs could be modified to improve their interface effects.<br />Develop strategies to improve interface in areas where existing programs fall short. <br />
  16. 16. The Process<br />Step One<br />identify programs in which interface either already occurs or can be readily developed<br />Step Two<br />characterize the specific nature of that interface <br /> using Hoffman categories e.g. (2) to (3) relationship<br />Step Three<br />Amend programs to maximize interface effect<br />Step Four<br />Identify areas of weakness develop strategies <br /> to improve interface in areas where existing<br /> programs fall short<br />
  17. 17. An Example Using the Army Congressional Fellowship Program<br />ACFP program is designed to educate selected Army Officers on the importance of the strategic relationship between the Army and the Congress.<br />It is a three-year program which includes the pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Legislative Affairs at George Washington University, service on the staff of a Member of Congress, and an assignment to the Army or Joint Staff in a Legislative Liaison duty position.<br />
  18. 18. ACFP Continued<br />From the perspective of interface development, the time that service members spend working with congressional staff is most important.<br />Though the program’s total duration is three years, the time spent working on Capitol Hill is usually limited to less than one year.<br />
  19. 19. ACFP Continued<br />The program is designed primarily to educate Army Officers.<br />To maximize interface benefits recharacterize goals as (1) Officer education and (2) relationship development.<br />Modify to further relationship goal without harming education goal.<br />
  20. 20. ACFP Continued<br />Work with congress to set up permanent positions on professional staff to be filled by Army Officers<br />Reliable number of positions each year and broader exposure to individual member staffs<br />Expanded program to include an option for a Capitol Hill rotation without the accompanying degree program<br />Modify eligibility requirements for non-degree fellows to insure close match with congressional needs<br />Amending the utilization policy<br />Remove requirement that officers not be assigned to congressional detail as last assignment before separation<br />Utilize D.C. area Army installations to expose congressional staff to Army culture<br />Design events for fellows and their congressional colleagues on Army installations <br />
  21. 21. Summary of Policy Recommendations<br />I suggest that an office be created with the Army Public Affairs command that would be responsible for analyzing existing Army programs of interface promotion potential. This office would: <br />(1) characterize existing points of interface, <br />(2) make recommendations as to how existing programs could be modified to improve their interface effects, and <br />(3) develop strategies to improve interface in areas where existing programs fall short. <br />

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