The Middle East Institute is proud to host Rochelle Davis, professor of Anthropology at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, to discuss US military conceptions of culture and the war in Iraq.
Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the proposal of a new counterinsurgency doctrine in late 2006, culture has been named as a key to the success and failure of US military operations. Nevertheless, cultural training material has provided erroneous information about Iraq and Iraqis and has fundamentally shaped US troops' attitudes about Iraqis. More recently, all four branches of the US Military have established new culture-centered institutions which are producing significantly different material, suggesting a fundamental shift in their approach to cultural training.
Davis's research, based on analysis of cultural training material and interviews with US troops and Iraqi civilians, suggests that military decision makers, current policy makers, and troops on the ground face fundamental challenges when approaching the role of culture as it relates to tactics of war.