Left Special ‘playing cards’ help to increase in-theater awareness of cultural differences and sensitivities. Image credit: US DoD.
“We spray the students and have them do fight-through drills so they realize the subject can still fight after being sprayed,” explains Hill. “They know that if they fight with someone who’s been sprayed it can get on them and they have to continue fighting.”
Caution: Culture Ahead A major hearts-and-minds lesson learned in the Iraq theater, albeit the hard way, is the need for sensitivity to other cultures. When US forces were castigated for building a helipad and parking lot on an ancient Babylonian archaeological site, the public affairs fallout was as devastating as the damage to the Ishtar Gate. One notable response has been the In-Theater Heritage Training for Deploying Personnel, which educates troops about the importance of heritage assets and methods of protecting them. Created by an Army team led by Dr. Laurie Rush, cultural resource manager at Fort Drum, New York, the initiative recently won the Chairman’s Award from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
MS&T MAGAZINE • ISSUE 2/2009
“We felt that training opportunities should be user friendly and should reach all levels of personnel,” says Dr. Rush. The solution includes playing cards that highlight archeological sites, scripted cultural preservation training modules, and mock cultural sites
for training scenarios – including faux cemeteries and a replica stone cone mosaic tower from the ancient City of Uruk as an ‘avoidance target’ on Adirondack Aerial Gunnery Range 48. “We plan to include a virtual reality tour of at least one site in our informational CD,” Dr. Rush adds. “We also hope to use a first-person account by a Marine Corps officer whose unit occupied an archeological site with minimum damage.” Other services cultural sensitivity training includes a replica mosque at Fort Dix, New Jersey, an historic well site at Quantico MCB, Virginia, and civil affairs lectures at the JFK Special Warfare School (Fort Bragg, North Carolina) and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. ms&t