ATP 3-24.3 Reveals The Shoddy Intellectual Underpinnings Of The Army’s #Counterinsurgency Agenda

Posted: May 1, 2015 in Culture


Over the past decade, the Pentagon has taken a renewed interest in cultural knowledge. This has manifested itself in many ways, including the creation of culture training centers and the distribution of funds for narrowly targeted social science research under the aegis of the Minerva Initiative.

The Army’s latest attempt to inject military personnel with cultural knowledge is the recently published manual, Cultural and Situational Understanding or Army Techniques Publication 3-24.3. (I will refer to it as ATP 3-24.3.) While this might sound like a positive development to some, ATP 3-24.3 reveals the shoddy intellectual underpinnings of the Army’s counterinsurgency agenda.

Shortly after FM 3-24‘s release, many social scientists criticized it on theoretical, methodological, and ethical grounds. Some pointed to its outdated culture concept. Others suggested that it ignored history and politics. I argued that FM 3-24 “reads like a manual for indirect colonial rule–though ‘empire’ and ‘imperial’ are taboo words, never used in reference to US power” (González 2007, p. 16).

Similar critiques can be made of the new manual. Like its older sibling, ATP 3-24.3 looks like a dumbed-down Anthropology 101 textbook, but it includes bizarre overgeneralizations and stereotypes that one would never find in an anthropology text. For example, ATP 3-24.3 is peppered with dubious claims regarding the way “most people” from Asia, Latin America, Africa, or the Middle East view the world, make sense of time, or interact with other people. It betrays a superficial understanding of cross-cultural and intercultural variation.

Full Story @ [counterpunch]


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