'Everyone Else is They': A New Framework for Operational Culture   [open pdf - 495KB]

"Culture plays an important role in armed conflict. But the concepts of culture expressed in doctrinal manuals are insufficient to aid military and intelligence planners in evaluating the effectiveness of a strategy or operational approach. By focusing on the observable items of 'tactical culture,' we miss opportunities for intervention in conflict. I offer a theoretical approach to evaluating operational and strategic plans through the lens of culture, and combine theories to address the social and political logics at work in a society, as well as the logic of fantasy that overlays these structures. I also address how narratives and stories of peoplehood are used to shore up the political and fantasmatic logics, and to maintain power despite emerging contestation of the status quo. Finally, multiple theories regarding political language and political reality, semiotics and meaning-making, and the existential faith of a society are used to identify if and when these complicated stories of peoplehood and fantasmatic logics are at work. All of these combined will enable planners to identify areas for intervention, to evaluate the potential success or failure of a course of action, and to anticipate potential second- and third-order effects of planned lines of effort."

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