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Military Culture

A Paradigm Shift?

Karen O. Dunivin, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
1900, 0 pages
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Cost: $0, AU Press Code: MP-10

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In this study, Lt Col Karen O. Dunivin, USAF, examines social change in American military culture and explores the current struggle between the military’s traditional and exclusionary combat, masculine-warrior (CMW) paradigm or belief system and the contradictory evolving model of military culture characterized by egalitarianism and inclusiveness. It is a contest between old thinking and new thinking. The author uses two recent and ongoing cases to illustrate the divergence between paradigm and model: women in combat and homosexuals in the military. Colonel Dunivin also examines the long-term conflict within US military culture, suggesting that the American military is now, once again, undergoing a cultural paradigm shift—moving away from its traditional CMW beliefs and values of exclusion toward an inclusionary view of soldiering. Assuming that the US military actively seeks to create a paradigm shift for its culture—as evidenced by the evolving model of culture—the author argues the US armed forces must, in the process, reduce their tendencies toward separatism and exclusiveness. She suggests three strategies for implementing a paradigm shift: alter the military’s prevailing combat, masculine image and identity which fosters exclusion rather than inclusion; proactively embrace and manage ongoing, major social change; and accept both institutional and individual commitment and responsibility for this paradigm shift. Specifically, paradigm pioneers must foster a culture of inclusion and egalitarianism. Colonel Dunivin also argues that senior US military leaders are the best catalysts to produce a US military paradigm shift—they are the true pioneers who can institutionalize a cultural paradigm embodied by an inclusive whole rather than a paradigm personified by an exclusive few. But senior leadership must act clearly and decisively and ensure that training, monitoring, and teamwork accompany their decisions. Colonel Dunivin concludes that if America expects its military to reflect society, it is imperative that the military adopt an inclusionary cultural paradigm.

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