Printer Friendly

The need for cross-cultural strategies and cohesiveness within CBRN security partnerships.

We live in an era of persistent conflict. The complex challenges to U.S. security cannot be mastered solely by military means or through unilateral U.S. actions. Therefore, it is important that the U.S. Army continue multifaceted efforts that significantly contribute to the improvement of U.S. relations with allied and partnered nations and enhance the ability of the United States and its allied and partnered nations to meet those security challenges.

As the Army continues its current security cooperation programs and activities (including collaborative efforts with selected international partner armies to build capacities in underdeveloped regions and countries) and continues to assess its effectiveness, it is looking for opportunities to build partnership capacities and relationships. For example, the Army has instituted a management information system that will significantly improve our Nation's ability to integrate Army and geographic combatant command security cooperation activities.

The National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction calls for a proactive counterproliferation strategy to defend against and defeat missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) before they are unleashed. (1) In fact, the entire philosophy of combating WMD is changing from one of passively reacting to a WMD attack to proactively and aggressively targeting and engaging WMD threat networks before the enemy can mount an attack. Under the battle command functional area, a commander could plan counterforce missions (active defense, WMD interdiction, WMD elimination, offensive operations) to engage enemy WMD threats, proactively deterring and preventing WMD attacks. Such a comprehensive, proactive approach addresses the importance of engaging actual or potential WMD actors as early as possible during the stages of WMD capability development. Earlier engagements result in improved security against the threat of WMD employment and in reduced costs for achieving that security.

From an Army operational and tactical combating WMD operations perspective (and using the mission area strategy outlined in the National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction), early engagement means first investing in nonproliferation missions (threat reduction, security cooperation, partner activities) whenever possible.

If nonproliferation efforts fail and strategic interests dictate the removal of a WMD threat, the next engagement priority involves counterforce missions. Although the Army plays a role in each of these counterforce missions, it currently serves as the U.S. Joint Forces Command primary capability provider for WMD elimination operations--and it is likely to continue in that capacity. In the event that an adversary attempts or manages to use WMD, the missions of passive defense, active defense, and consequence management rise to the forefront.

At this advanced stage of WMD capability development, early engagement involves working with partners and allies. Developing increased cooperation and an improved ability to conduct multinational combating WMD operations not only produces tangible benefits with regard to mission execution, but also strengthens our message to potential adversaries that their development or use of WMD will not achieve the desired effects. At the operational and tactical levels, aspects of early engagements with partners and allies include actions to plan and conduct multinational training exercises, share responsibilities and equipment, and provide technical assistance. Achieving increased levels of interoperability within multinational battle command systems and specialized combating WMD sensors and equipment assists in early engagement.

In this partnership environment, it is likely that all echelons will incorporate multinational force elements in major combat and irregular warfare campaigns--and that they will encounter cultural differences among friends, combatants, and noncombatants. And the more significant the differences between Army capabilities and those of our potential partners, the more difficult it may be to effectively harmonize multicultural operations. An understanding of the cultural differences that exist is essential. While integration efforts are especially beneficial in the area of information sharing, requirements for collaborative planning, common data standards, and multilevel security must be resolved. These requirements will form the basis for any capability statements.

Role of Culture in Effective Security Partnerships

Just as culture affects how a military organization conducts its internal affairs, it also influences the organization's relations with allies. Cultural variations among militaries can inhibit the effectiveness of coalitions during conflicts. However, during recent conflicts (such as the Gulf War and the wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq), significant collaboration among allied forces was required--and coalition warfare will likely continue to be the norm in the 21st century.

Historical examples illustrate the importance of cooperation among militaries from different nations and societies. During World War I, a lack of cultural awareness and understanding in the German-Ottoman alliance severely weakened the coalition. The German military, staffed with a largely homogenous Prussian officer corps with limited exposure to other people, alienated its Turkish allies through an attitude of cultural superiority and heavy-handed treatment. Kaiser Wilhelm II's misunderstanding of Islam led him to encourage the Turkish elite to call for a jihad (2) against Christians, with the goal of energizing the Ottoman war effort against France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The declaration fell well short of achieving the intended effect and, instead, spurred massive religious persecution within the Ottoman Empire and atrocities against Christian Armenians and Syrians. This demonstrates that leaders should be aware of the risks in manipulating cultural sensitivities that they do not fully understand. On the other hand, the alliance between the United Kingdom and Japan during World War I is an example of a successful partnership based on shared cultural understanding. British military leaders, who had inherited a long tradition of cross-cultural communication due to their country's imperial experience, were well equipped to coordinate operations with their Japanese allies against German forces on the Shandong Peninsula in northeastern China in 1914. The Japanese commander, Lieutenant General Mitsuomi Kamio, spoke excellent English and closely cooperated with his British counterpart, Brigadier General Nathaniel Walter Barnardiston. Mutual respect at the highest levels produced good relations, which were especially important since British troops served under Japanese command. This confirms that, to understand foreign militaries, leaders must view them through the prisms of their own foreign cultures. The relationship between U.S. forces and the Chinese Nationalist Army during World War II serves as a case in point. Supplementing unit counts with extra ghost soldiers who did not actually exist, demanding kickbacks for services, and selling intelligence to the enemy were commonplace in the Chinese army. And these actions often undermined its combat performance. American officers stationed in China were reluctant to give in to corruption, and they refused to play along. This led to a great deal of friction between the allies and, ultimately, to the failure to defeat the Imperial Japanese Army on the Asian mainland.

Senior military officials need to work with their foreign counterparts--not attempt to impose arbitrary orders. And the Gulf War proved that militaries of radically different cultures can work well together. The coalition commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, diligently worked to comply with the cultural values of the Saudi Arabian hosts by ordering his troops to refrain from culturally offensive practices such as consuming alcohol or holding public religious services. The respect of the Americans for the cultural, ethnic, and racial differences of the Saudis went a long way toward limiting potential sources of friction. For their part, the Saudis relaxed a few of their more stringent laws to accommodate the military needs of the coalition. For example, they allowed female Soldiers to drive military vehicles on Saudi roads. Military training and education also played a role in improving relations between the allies. The Saudi military commander, General Khalid bin Sultan, had attended the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Air Force Air War College.

Culture helps explain the world view and motivations of potential adversaries. It is also undoubtedly a key determinant in the evolution of military affairs. It underpins the effectiveness of the military and its ability to create operational doctrine. Culture is also a major factor in managing relations between allies. During the two decades since the end of the Cold War, political and military leaders have ignored the impact of culture on military affairs, leading to negative results. In seeking the establishment of more security partnerships, the U.S. military should enhance the cultural education of its midgrade and senior leaders and take this intellectual capability into greater account when making promotion decisions.

Benefits of Effective Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Security Environments

There are several significant benefits to cultural improvements in the multilevel chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) security environment.

Regular Consultations and Sharing of Information and Intelligence

The sharing of information among national authorities, partners, and international organizations, where appropriate, helps foster a common understanding of potential WMD proliferation threats from state and nonstate actors; encourages members, partners, and other nations to fully comply with arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation obligations; and enhances the global response to WMD. This multiorganizational and intercultural dimension plays an important role in the efficiency and effectiveness of WMD interventions. Significant problems in cooperation arose from cross-cultural differences between the Anglo-Dutch parties involved in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in 1964 and between U.S.-Danish Stabilization Force in Bosnia participants in 1996. Likewise, tensions emerged between troops as a result of cross-cultural differences during the interactions of German, Danish, and Polish troops in two North Atlantic Treaty Organization institutions in Poland. It is evident that organizational culture is one of the key influences in the quality of cross-cultural interaction.

Safety and Security of CBRN Materials

The presence of CBRN materials remains tentative in many parts of the world. In such threatening environments, multilevel security partnerships could explore means to complement existing bilateral, multilateral, and regional cooperative threat reduction programs to secure and reduce global stocks of CBRN materials; prevent their theft or illicit transfer by terrorists and criminal syndicates; and preclude terrorists from gaining the know-how to develop WMD. Countries already assist their allies in the safe destruction of stockpiles and surplus munitions, conventional weapons, and land mines. Security cooperation allows advice, training, and other multilateral assistance available to partners seeking to secure, reduce, or destroy stockpiles of these materials to remain within the limits of available resources.

Compared to a monocultural environment, the multinational security environment calls for additional leadership competencies--especially when it comes to interpersonal communication, problem solving, and decisionmaking. National cultural differences between different international troops are barriers to a successful coalition mission command. Senior leaders must implement a system that functions throughout the different cultures in order to efficiently work toward the desired goal. One of the most important factors in determining the success of such a system is good interpersonal interaction between leaders at all levels and from all nationalities. There are several reasons for this. First, the structure, goals, and orders issued must be correctly interpreted and understood by each member of the force. In addition, no one should be offended by the way in which people interact with one another. Furthermore, general commitment, trust, and motivation should be presupposed. Misunderstandings regarding general structures, roles, and duties are likely to cause the greatest number of problems. An adequate, sensitive, cross-cultural interaction is important between people from very different continents and between troops from similar Western societies. The management of cross-cultural differences is crucial to the success of the engagement.

Value Added for Nonproliferation Efforts

Partnerships can foster the development of allied capabilities to impede or stop the trafficking of WMD, related materials, and means of delivery. This type of security cooperation could bring military capabilities to bear to aid in the--

* Detection, identification, monitoring, surveillance, and tracking of WMD acquisition and development activities.

* Performance of information operations aimed at discouraging, disabling, and denying the proliferation of WMD.

* Conduct of information exchange and intelligence fusion among allies and partners to produce actionable intelligence for nonproliferation activities.

Partnerships can also be used to develop and promote common operational standards, concepts, doctrine, and tactics and to encourage or facilitate relevant training and exercises. Security cooperation can also serve to enhance international outreach to foster related partner capabilities and enhance the global response to WMD proliferation.

Individual cross-cultural competencies are the basis for adequate command and leadership behavior in this international security setting. A combination of cultural knowledge, mindfulness (the ability to pay attention to cross-cultural cues in a reflective and creative way), and behavioral skills leads to effective cultural understanding. Although cross-cultural competencies are important for leadership in monocultural and intercultural environments, international cross-cultural environments are more complex and, therefore, require a different approach with regard to certain aspects of leadership. To be cross-culturally competent, leaders must be able to describe and explain their own culture, the foreign culture, and the cross-cultural interaction. They must have a polycentric view, a tolerance for ambiguity, the aptitude for cross-cultural training, and some knowledge of the foreign language. These competencies allow for improvements in the communication between, and interaction among, people of different cultures.

Value of Nonmilitary Partnerships

Nonmilitary partnerships and alliances can yield valuable strategies and resources that could contribute to efforts to prevent WMD proliferation. For instance, through its expertise in ocean shipping, an alliance might gain situational awareness regarding potential proliferation transit routes. Upon request from a nation, alliances could offer access to civil expertise to assist in the planning and decisionmaking process. In addition, civil experts might offer advice on other relevant topics such as national border control, port security, and sensitive-material protection.

Differing situations will likely influence personal behavior in cross-cultural interaction settings. There are specific characteristics involved in each situation; therefore, a situational assessment should be conducted. Leaders must often act under ambiguous situations, so situational assessments are regularly based on fragmentary information. Under such conditions, there seems to be a tendency to fall back on proven behaviors and problem-solving strategies. But these behaviors and strategies are frequently based on monocultural experiences in different environments and may, therefore, be inappropriate for the situation at hand. The interpretation of a specific situation is strongly influenced by the cultural background of the problem solver. And the more dangerous the situation, the more influential the problem solver's cultural background--since his or her behavior will be less controlled and based more on basic cultural patterns. Therefore, a leader's adoption of new cultural patterns of behavior and new problem-solving strategies based on accurate situational assessments is the key to making sound decisions.

Monitoring and Analysis of Global Trends in Research and Development

CBRN security partnerships can play a crucial role in monitoring and analyzing global trends in research and development and can continue to encourage scientific study and innovation. Security partners might consider intensifying outreach efforts toward scientists, universities, think tanks, and similar national and international entities and fostering public-private partnerships. Because cross-cultural interactions are at the heart of international CBRN interventions, the organizations involved in these interventions must foster an open, polycentric approach with regard to interpersonal interactions and problem solving. Effectiveness in these settings can only be achieved if organizations are willing to incorporate this approach into their governing statements and to adjust the organizational structure where necessary.

The selection of an internalization strategy is one of the most important organizational responsibilities. When it comes to internalization, organizations typically follow one of the following strategies:

* Cultural dominance. Organizations that subscribe to the cultural dominance strategy are geared toward the traditional culture; new, incoming cultures must adjust to the existing culture.

* Cultural compromise. Under the strategy of cultural compromise, attempts are made to integrate different rules, regulations, and attitudes into a new organizational structure and management style.

* Cultural synergies. The development of a completely new organizational structure and management style based on the different cultural backgrounds of various players and interest groups comprises the strategy of cultural synergies.

Leaders act according to the organization's chosen internalization strategy for cross-cultural interaction. Organizational culture is one of the main factors that determines the quality of intercultural interaction.

Other important organizational responsibilities include selecting the right people and preparing them for leading roles. The selection of leaders based on cross-cultural capabilities; deployment-related, cross-cultural training programs; or opportunities for informal interaction between people from different cultures has an impact on individual leadership effectiveness. However, the type and quality of cross-cultural training are also important. And depending on the mission, cultural distance, and previous experience, the cross-cultural training may vary from a short, factual information session about another culture to ongoing, more experiential training including factual knowledge instruction; cultural awareness training; cultural sensitivity training; language training; or advanced, short-term placements to be completed before taking on a leading role in a new environment.

Deterioration of Political Situations in Potentially Aggressive Environments

Deteriorating political situations, such as the current situation in Syria, might result in the threat or use of WMD, and partners might receive an intelligence alert indicating that a terrorist possesses CBRN materials or WMD. Should measures to de-escalate the crisis prove ineffective, the partners must be prepared to employ military options in response to the threat. Defenses to defeat the use of WMD; to protect forces, populations, and territories against WMD attacks; and to explore ways to assist partners could be employed. Coalition security forces are to be ready to disrupt WMD delivery, respond to the source of a WMD attack, mitigate the effects of the WMD attack, and dismantle or destroy residual WMD capabilities to prevent follow-on attacks.

Changes in political circumstances or the general situational context influence leader behavior. This means that the teams in which the leaders are integrated are more important than ever. Successful cross-cultural teams develop and define a new group culture and promote mutual trust between team members from different cultures. This cross-cultural harmony provides members with the will and ability to communicate with each other and to share their problem-solving and decisionmaking skills. The more culturally harmonious the group, the more likely the group members are to cooperate and make the right decisions. Individuals tend to override their personal motivations and develop realistic alternatives and solutions when they are deeply involved in a cohesive, within-group decisionmaking process.


The principles for sustainable international cooperation are of fundamental importance in CBRN security. The combination of all regional, national, and international CBRN components and the incorporation of these components in a comprehensive approach are effective strategies in dealing with CBRN threats. This requires a high level of collaboration among various, potential stakeholders.

Within this international security environment, cross-culturally competent leader behavior depends on individual cross-cultural competencies, the ability to understand and manage the dynamics of a team, the capacity to work in a given organizational structure and to improve that structure whenever possible, an understanding of the importance of the general context of the mission, and the ability to make appropriate situational assessments.

Most multinational teams, units, or organizations involved in CBRN interventions are subjected to an environment of utmost urgency and life-threatening risks from the first day of deployment. Therefore, Soldiers and leaders must be prepared for, and rehearsed in, cross-cultural interaction, problem solving, and command execution. Providing training in cross-cultural and problem-solving skills is a promising way to increase leaders' ability to act effectively in this complex environment.


Alejandro P. Briceno, "The Use of Cultural Studies in Military Operations," Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, U.S. Marine Corps, 2008, < /dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a491143.pdf >, accessed on 16 April 2013.

Joseph J. DiStefano and and Martha L. Maznevski, "Creating Value With Diverse Teams in Global Management," Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 29, No.1, September 2000, pp. 45-63, < /ehost/detail?sid=035ead5f-48b4-4530-82c0-ece9afcad2d2 %40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZW hvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=bth&AN=3832137>, accessed on 11 April 2013.

Cathy Downes, "Challenges for Smaller Nations in the New Era of UN and Multinational Operations" in Peacekeeping: Challenges for the Future (Hugh Smith, ed.), Australian Defence Studies Centre, Canberra, 1993.

P. Christopher Earley and Soon Ang, Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2003.

John Eldridge, ed., Jane's Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defence 2006-2007 (19th ed.), Jane's Information Group, Inc., Sentinel House, Coulsdon, Surrey, United Kingdom, 2006.

Bob Graham et al., "World at Risk: The Report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism," Vintage Books, New York, December 2008, <http://>, accessed on 11 April 2013.

Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language, Anchor Books, New York, 1990.

Geert Hofstede et al., Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (International Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival), McGraw-Hill, London, 2010.

Robert J. House et al., Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies, Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, 2004.

Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1972.

George L. Kaempf et al., "Decision Making in the AEGIS Combat Information Center," Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 37 th Annual Meeting, 1993.

Helen Altman Klein et al., "Cultural Barriers to Multinational C2 Decision Making," Proceedings of the 2000 Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium, 2000, <>, accessed on 16 April 2013.

Maxie McFarland, "Military Cultural Education," Military Review, March-April 2005, < /utils/getfile/collection/p124201coll1/id/170/filename/171 .pdf>, accessed on 16 April 2013.

S. Milgram, "Behavioral Study of Obedience," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 67, 1963, pp. 371-378, < /READ-Obedience.pdf>, accessed on 11 April 2013.

Roger H. Palin, Multinational Military Forces: Problems and Prospects (The Problems Facing Multinational Forces and Operations and Prospects for the Future), Adelphi Paper 294, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.

Jane Rayson and Paul Mallender, The Civil Partnership Act 2004: A Practical Guide, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

David R. Segal and Ronald B. Tiggle, "Attitudes of Citizen-Soldiers Toward Military Missions in the Post-Cold War World," Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 23, No. 3, Spring 1997, pp. 373-390.

Stefan Seiler, "Developing Responsible Leaders," paper presented at the 14th Annual National Character and Leadership Symposium, U.S. Air Force Academy, 22-24 February 2007.

Boas Shamir and Eyal Ben-Ari, "Leadership in an Open Army? Civilian Connections, Interorganizational Frameworks, and Changes in Military Leadership," Out-of-the-Box Leadership: Transforming the Twenty-First Century Army and Other Top-Performing Organizations (James G. "Jerry" Hunt et al., eds.), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 1999, pp. 15-40.

Anne-Marie Soederberg and Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, Challenges to Uniformity: Managing the Changing Identities of Multinational Military Units, 2005, < /documents/fak/fmlp/ilo/filer/chtouniformity26maj05.pdf>, accessed on 11 April 2013.

Joseph Soeters and Miepke Bos-Bakx, "Cross-Cultural Issues in Peacekeeping Operations, The Psychology of the Peacekeeper: Lessons from the Field (Thomas W. Britt and Amy B Adler, eds.), Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, September, 2003, pp. 283-298.

David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson, Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, 2003.

Harry C. Triandis et al., "Individualism and Collectivism: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Self-Ingroup Relationships," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 54, Issue 2, 1988, pp. 323-338.

Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner, Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., London, 1998.

A. Kadir Varoglu, Cross-Cultural Differences in Perceptions of Management Processes and Their Impact on Joint Training Policies of NATO, Turkish Military Academy, 2009.

Ng Kok Ye et al., "Cultural Intelligence: Its Potential for Military Leadership Development," paper presented at the 47th Annual International Military Testing Association Conference, Singapore, 8-10 November 2005.


(1) National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 13 February 2006.

(2) A jihad is a holy war that is wages as a religiously duty on behalf of Islam.

Dr. EL-Guindy is a cultural and language advisor, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He holds master's and doctorate degrees in applied linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, master's degrees in education and psychology from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, and graduate diplomas in English as a second language from the American University in Cairo and the Colchester English Study Centre in Colchester, United Kingdom. He has taught at universities in Egypt, Australia, and the United States.
COPYRIGHT 2013 U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:EL-Guindy, Boshra N.
Publication:CML Army Chemical Review
Date:Jun 22, 2013
Previous Article:USAR CBRN: building a unity of command.
Next Article:The 48th chemical brigade participates in Warpath III exercise.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters