Infantry Drills

4-23: Importance of Understanding Culture

Previous: 4-20: Mission Command

4-23. Soldiers derive their effectiveness from their ability to understand and work with foreign counterparts from another culture. They need to understand enough of their own culture and their counterpart’s culture to accurately convey ideas, concepts, and purpose without causing counterproductive consequences. Soldiers need to be aware of aspects of the local culture and history that influence behavior in their operational environment. Soldiers need to understand the reasons and motivations underlying personal interaction and practice patience when working with their counterparts. Group norms guide individual behavior, and Soldiers need to understand how individuals in a society tend to interact as members of a group, whether a race, ethnic, or kinship group. Cultural understanding is not derived from demographic information provided to the military through country briefs prior to deployment. It is gained from studying, interacting, and understanding the people, religion, history, customs, and social and political structures within an area. For true understanding, it is necessary to live among the people, gradually understanding the subtleties and nuances of their culture. Leaders in the Infantry company ensure that Soldiers understand that the actions of one can have a positive or negative effect in the way that the entire unit is viewed by the local population. (Refer to ATP 3-07.10 for more information.)

Next: 4-24: Themes, Messages, and Actions

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad