Culture as a Weapon System

  • Citation: Davis, Rochelle. “Culture as a Weapon System.” Middle East Report 255 (2010): 8–13.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • culture
    • military
    • cultural training
    • Iraq
    • United States

At the fourth Culture Summit of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) in April 2010, Maj. Gen. David Hogg, head of the Adviser Forces in Afghanistan, proposed that the US military think of “culture as a weapon system.” The military, Hogg asserted, needs to learn the culture of the lands where it is deployed and use that knowledge to fight its enemies along with more conventional armaments. This conceptual and perhaps literal “weaponization of culture” continues a trend that began with the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Endorsed at the highest level by Gen. David Petraeus, head of Central Command, the Pentagon unit in charge of the greater Middle East, the idea of culture as a weapon grows out of the “‘gentler’ approach” to America’s post-September 11 wars adopted after the departure of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. This approach is best articulated in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, that Petraeus oversaw and that the Army released in December 2006.

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