By Lori M. Quiller, AFCLC’s Outreach Team
/ Published January 15, 2021
In 2018, Dr. Patricia Fogarty traveled to Romania with some students from the Air War College as part of their Regional Security Studies program. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Fogarty.)
Dr. Patricia Fogarty, the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s assistant professor of cross-cultural relations, is a mystery enthusiast. An avid reader and a fan of any good detective television series, it only makes sense that this anthropologist is fascinated by how and why people do what they do.
“I like to think about human behavior. The patterns and ways people do things is like a puzzle, and we all do things for a reason,” Dr. Fogarty said. “The fun part is trying to understand why we do what we do.”
This native of Asheville, NC, Fogarty began her academic career as an undergraduate student at Florida State University, where she majored in French. She knew she was good at languages but had no idea how to parlay that skill into a bona fide career.
“I knew I wanted to travel and see the world, and I’d considered the Peace Corps, with its focus on teaching English in some countries, so I applied and was accepted into a master’s program at FSU for Multicultural/Multilingual Education, with a focus on teaching English as a second or foreign language.”
A year after finishing that degree, Fogarty applied for a fellowship with what used to be the U.S. Information Agency (now integrated into the U.S. State Department). The USIA at that time was opening new positions in all the countries of the former Soviet Union, a region Fogarty was eager to explore. Her profile was matched to the requests by potential employers, and she was given the choice to go to Ukraine or the Republic of Moldova.
“I’m from a small city in Florida, and there was no current information on either of these places, especially since it was only a couple of years after they gained independence. So, I went to the local library and looked at the 20-year old books they had on the Soviet Union. Both Ukraine and Moldova looked beautiful and interesting, but in the end, I chose Moldova because I read that they’d had less fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster than the region of Ukraine where the other position was. I never regretted choosing Moldova. I love it so much!”
When she returned to the U.S. after spending two years in Moldova, Fogarty began looking for graduate programs to marry her love of languages and foreign cultures into a permanent career. It was time to step up her game, so she completed the master’s program in anthropology at Georgia State University and then the doctoral program in anthropology at Emory University, both in Atlanta. Her dissertation research revolved around the work of an internationally funded development agency in the Republic of Moldova. She explored Moldovans’ experiences of citizenship, national identity and corruption. Since joining the AFCLC faculty, Fogarty’s research has included documenting the intercultural experiences of Airmen of all ranks and careers.
While her teaching and research interests include general cross-cultural awareness and competence, ethnic and national identity, the effects of corruption on military operations, information warfare in Eastern Europe, and the use of museums and heritage sites for political ends, there is one specific area that holds a special place in her heart: improving the military’s role in cultural property and heritage protection.
“Working with partner militaries and civil organizations toward better cultural heritage protection seems like one of the most natural applications of the cross-cultural competence skills and cultural and regional knowledge that we teach at AFCLC,” she stated. “Airmen and other service personnel have seen the immediate need for protection of culturally important sites and traditions and have sought us out for more education and training on the subject.” Eventually, Fogarty and her colleagues would like the 1954 Hague Convention (for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict) to be as high profile as the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
One of the best parts of working on heritage protection, Fogarty added, is working with colleagues like Dr. Elizabeth Peifer and Dr. Scott Edmondson, also faculty at AFCLC. “One of the projects we’ve most enjoyed working on together is supporting the 505th Combat Training Squadron in their Blue Flag exercises. Initially we were invited to join Blue Flag preparations in 2017 by Lt. Col. Matt McKinney, then the commander of the 505th CTS, and the exercise manager, Mr. John Drain, who wanted to add more realistic cultural dilemmas to the training exercise. Some of the scenarios we’ve contributed to include complicated targeting scenarios in urban centers with historical districts and interagency coordination on protecting museum artifacts during a crisis. We’re so grateful to both Mr. Drain and Lt. Col. McKinney for inviting us to ‘the show.’ Without both of their support, we wouldn’t have made as much progress as we have!”
Blue Flag is an exercise that trains participants at the operational level of war. It is administered by the 505th Combat Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field with the goal of every numbered Air Force to participate every two years. Blue Flag exercises have played a significant role in preparing commands for various wars, including the Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield and various humanitarian operations.
“Working with Blue Flag has been especially important because we’re not just teaching Airmen in a classroom but working with them to apply cultural knowledge and skills during the course of their regular duties,” Fogarty explained. “If we’re able to integrate them into the procedures of operational planning, then we’ve really made strides in cementing the role of cultural and regional knowledge in Air Force practice. Even more importantly, we’ll have improved Airmen’s ability to forge stronger ties with our strategic partners and to preserve the world’s heritage.”
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