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page reviewed/updated 22 Oct 08


Overall Academic Program ___return to top
  • Principles leading to cultural understanding are addressed at Air War College through theory, experiential learning, and political, social, and anthropological research in core courses, electives, team research projects, individual research projects and the end-of-year wargame
  • Examination of culture-related concepts occurs through current/relevant readings, case studies, wargames, seminar discussions, guest speakers and individual research
  • Cultural understanding is reinforced by the paticipation in each core course seminar of at least two international officers whose perceptions and insights are solicited throughout the academic year
  • Key areas addressed that are particularly related to cultural understanding are as follows:
    • Root causes of current and future terrorism and other challenges to regional security
    • Cultural understanding of key regions prone to terrorism
    • Cultural norms and values that create challenges to senior combat leaders
  • Evaluating a cross-culture communications workshop for inclusion next year as a special course to be offered between major courses in the curriculum
Joint Military Operations Course ___return to top
  • Joint Military Operations Course specifically examines:
    • Global and regional emergence of new types of warriors and the impact they have on traditional military operations
    • Opportunities for US military to partner with NGOs/IGOs in humanitarian relief operations, taking into account cultural differences and their impact upon the efforts
    • Current thinking, including the following books used to examine the ideas and theories which significantly impact global military and security operations :
      • The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, which examines culture as one of many influences in the evinronment in which we must work
      • The Pentagon’s New Map, by Thomas Barnett, which maintains countries disconnected from the global mainstream are creating fertile ground for radical ideologies
      • The Sling and the Stone, by Thomas Hammes, which explores the evolution and current practice of fourth generation warfare
      • Clash of Civilizations, by Samuel Huntington, which addresses perceived differences between today’s world civilizations and the resultant tension and issues
    • Joint application of power (air, sea, land space, or information)
    • Theater Security Cooperation Planning (TSCP), a complex process that requires a combatant commander and his staff to take a broad view of the region, including culture, economic issues, etc.
    • Military Decision Making Process (MDMP); embedded in that process is Mission Analysis and Center of Gravity Analysis.  These two rather significant elements of operational planning require a thorough understanding of an opponent/region, and are not limited simply to orders of battle, geography, and weather
    • Crisis Action Planning (CAP), through a three-day exercise during which the students apply the processes and knowledge they’ve learned in a North Africa scenario — connected to, but not overlapping, the end-of-year Solo Challenge wargame.
    • Military involvement in Foreign Humanitarian Assistance (including a case study of Rwanda)
    • Behavioral Influence Analysis (BIA) process and methodology, in which the students receiving some “101”-level instruction from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and integration/application of that methodology into planning processes. 
National Security Decision Making Course ___return to top
  • National Security Decision Making Course specifically examines:
    • The breadth of US national interests and traditional and non-traditional challenges to those interests (including terrorists and their ideologies)
    • The use of the instruments of national power (diplomacy, information/intelligence, military, and economics (DIME)) to address challenges — to include ideological and cultural contexts and the processes used by those within the Washington DC AOR in making national security decisions in peacetime and crisis
    • Introducing students to critical thinking and analysis using the text, The Idea of Pakistan, providing the opportunity from the very first student sessions to examine many cultural elements (ideology, religion, language, demographics, education, government, familial ties, etc.) that form the basis for understanding “other” societies and states
    • The impacts of globalization on state and non-state actors and the abilities of their cultures to manage the changes brought about by this global dynamic
Global Security Course ___return to top
  • Global Security Course specifically examines:
    • Cultural forces—such as democratization, liberalization, and globalization—in regions of vital interest to the US such as Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America
Leadership and Ethics Course ___return to top
  • Leadership and Ethics Course specifically examines:
    • Possible future challenges, including the resolution of deep-seated regional/cultural issues
    • Issues of Just War, emerging international law on conflict and regionally-peculiar cultural issues, such as use of children as warriors
    • Concept of divergent cultural norms and resultant challenges to senior US leadership
    • Cross-Cultural Communications
    • Issues of recognizing and overcoming cultural chauvinism, ignorance, and insensitivity
    • Strategic negotiations, through a two-day practical exercise set in a foreign context that required students to think deeply about cultural values and cross-cultural communications
    • “Meta-cultural”concerns, the study of enduring ethical and cultural obligations which transcend transient ideologies and social groups
Foundations of Warfare Course ___return to top
  • Foundations of Warfare Course specifically examines:
    • Importance of culture, history, religion, and related matters as key factors to be considered in national and military strategy
    • Importance of local circumstances, popular will, and other factors in understanding how to make strategy consistent with policy, doctrine, and desired endstates
    • Cultural influences on the development of the current approach to war used by the US and its closest allies
    • Cultural differences in approaches to theory of warfare
    • Forming and maintaining alliances and coalitions across cultural lines
    • Cultural components which facilitate aspects of warfare such as protracted nature, differences in involvement of population, and urban or asymmetrical nature of warfare
    • Theories such as coercion and why their utility may be limited by the culture in which they are applied
    • Problems of cultural ignorance, hubris and other factors—examined using historical case studies
Wargaming ___return to top
  • AWC’s capstone wargame is currently played at the strategic and operational level in the 2015 timeframe in three world scenarios involving GWOT
    • CONUS – terrorist activity involving WMD
    • CENTCOM – Turkmenistan civil war, including Iran-sponsored radical faction
    • PACOM – Chinese aggression in the South China Sea with US allies including Islamic nations
  • AWC international officers apply their expertise through interactive cells from both an adversarial (thinking enemy) and friendly (coalition/host nation issues) perspective that the students must deal with in order to develop focused courses of action to deal with regional situations.  International officers are also embedded within the various “world” cells.
  • The faculty guide explains how DOD analyzes the System of Systems (PMESII—political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, and information) and then employs the instruments of national power (DIME: diplomatic, information, military, and economic) to shape the battlespace in the form of Theater Security Cooperation Planning (TSCP), Flexible Deterrent Options (FDOs) and Course of Action (CoA) development. 
Theater Security Cooperation Visits - Regional & Cultural Studies Course ___return to top
  • Regional and Cultural Studies Course:
    • AWC works with the pertinent unified commands for each region
    • AWC has been doing this program for over 15 years and has built up a reputation which has often led to AWC travelers being the first official visitors into a country after that country's relations had soured with the US, sometimes even becoming the very first official US military visit to a country
    • The course is constructed of 15 individual programs targeted to different regions around the world providing students the opportunity to understand how to use a DIME-Culture approach to understanding a region and to apply that understanding to develop effective security engagement plans supporting national interests in the region
    • To prepare for each visit, students spend 30 hours of focused studies and writing
    • Students conduct a 12-day theater security cooperation visit to their studied region experiencing many elements of culture education first-hand and affording the students the opportunity to do primary research with political/diplomatic, military, economic, and cultural leaders in the region
    • US students receive an introduction to foreign languages using language “survival kits” from the Defense Language Institute
  • Current faculty include individuals who have led regional studies trips for years and have valuable regional contacts
  • The Senior Mentor program sends retired senior flag officers with each regional travel team -- flag officers with special experience and/or contacts in the region
  • Regional visits often are aided by AWC graduates who have become prominent leaders in the military of the countries visited
Language Studies ___return to top
  • In support of general cultural awareness efforts and the Theater Security Cooperation Visits above, Air War College has a language studies program consisting of two components
    • On-site instructors for classroom instruction in French, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese as an elective course for a large portion of our student body
    • Multimedia resources to support self-study familiarization efforts for all students traveling on the Theater Security Cooperation Visits. Each student studies one of the primary languages of one or more of the countries being visited.
Regional Experts ___return to top
  • Current faculty include individuals born and raised in Central Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and Australia
  • Every seminar has at least two international officers
  • The State Department and other government agencies supply regional experts for special focus days/weeks during the academic year
  • Regional insights by faculty authors have generated by-name requests by regional governments, asking for AWC faculty participation in conferences and panels
Electives ___return to top
  • Sampling of recently offered electives:
    • “International Rivals” – taught by the USAF Counterproliferation Center, examines the nature of potential US adversaries and rivals (e.g., Iran, Syria and terrorist organizations) to determine how they might act in crises—such as when and how they will use force
    • “Inside the Heads of Friends and Foes: Cross Cultural Competencies” – grounding in cultural intelligence, emphasizes the issue of cross-cultural communication—helping students to identify and understand the features that facilitate collective action in different cultures, either for us or against us
    • “The Iraq War: Strategic Issues” – examines the origins, objectives, conduct, and consequences of the most recent Iraq War and ongoing Phase Four operations, focusing on interaction of policy and war
    • “China’s Use of Force: A Case Study of a Nonwestern Approach to Warfare” – examines China’s strategic and political culture to determine its impact on China’s use of force and the logic of Chinese threat perception
    • “Negotiation Skills for Senior Leaders” – provides the means to better understand culturally those who may be sitting across the negotiation table
    • “Warrior Cultures” – examines issues that are major contributors to sustained violence in such cultures and actions that might be taken to make such cultures less prone to violence
Student Research - Team ___return to top
  • Samples of current team research projects
    • “Technology and Strategy Development in Asia” – examines the impact of the strategic choices and technological development made by the three great Asian powers—China, Japan, and India—on their national security, including policy implications for the United States’ national security strategy
    • “Adversarial Scenarios for the Joint Land, Air and Sea Simulation” (JLASS) – seven AWC students and faculty – examines adversarial approaches to courses of action developed by CJCS J-8 CONOPS Team and from scenario used in JLASS wargame and examines use of all instruments of power (DIME)
Student Research - Individual ___return to top
  • Samples of recent individual research papers
    • Role of Organizational Culture in Ethical Decison making: Guidance for the AEF Commander
    • Compare/Contrast WW II Suicide Squads and Modern Day Terrorist Suicide Attacks
    • Strategic Initiatives for AF Chaplains in Joint Forward Environments (looks at cultural & doctrinal issues)
    • Terrorism and the Just War Theory
    • Required Cultural Competencies for Mission Support Group Commanders
    • Combating the Conditions that Foster Terrorism
    • Insights from the Quran into the Use of WMD
    • Issues that Foster Terrorism and How Algeria Can Overcome this Threat





























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