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  • Not Just Regarding Afghanistan: Dangerous Assumptions, Cultural (In)competence—and Weak Reflexivity

    That the West could build a state and military in its own image, from the outside-in and from the top-down, without an adequate—much less a deep—understanding of Afghan society and culture was a dangerous assumption. One might say this notion represents our most fundamental error, generative of many missteps. Perhaps the earliest strategic failure in Afghanistan was the distracting invasion of Iraq in 2003, a campaign that also suffered from a similar set of fundamental, faulty assumptions. Iraq was yet another intervention with no real planning it seems for the aftermath—for all the social and political variables that must be considered to mitigate chaos and prevent prolonged conflict. Just design the exquisite air and ground campaigns, shock and awe, and rebuild the infrastructure, re-engineer the society itself with our models as templates. There seems to be a pattern, a way of thinking, so deeply embedded one might call it cultural, upon which we need to reflect.

  • A War by Words: Language and Cultural Understanding in the Age of Information Warfare

    This article will analyze the historical role of language in China’s interactions with the outside world and the role language plays in modern US–China competition. We will also explain how the Air Force can use the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) to bolster the ability of the 16th Air Force and Pacific Air Forces to dominate in the information domain, thereby playing an important role in countering China’s whole-of-society approach to great-power competition.
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The views and opinions expressed or implied in JIPA are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the Department of Defense, Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or their international equivalents. See our Publication Ethics Statement.