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By Mr B.H. Beets

This article provides nine cultural considerations for training or mentoring foreign troops. These considerations are focused at the tactical level and are derived from first-hand discussions with New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, British and United States personnel who have recently conducted a training or mentoring deployment; this article is for practitioners not academics. The core point of this article is to start tactical level discussion and awareness around cultural considerations of training and mentoring foreign troops. The key ‘so-what’ for each of the nine considerations are:

  • Communication. Communication is the most important thing you need to understand because without it, you will not be able to pass on knowledge to your trainees or mentees; without effective communication, you will not be able to do job.
  • Religion. With several recent missions to countries where religion is immensely important, the second consideration illustrates how religion needs to be respected and understood. While planning training or mentoring, religious factors need to be considered.
  • Family and Tribe. Everybody has a family; it is a useful topic of discussion that links everyone. Also, a trainee or mentees’ allegiance may be to tribe or family before country.
  • Military Culture. The distinction between commissioned and non-commissioned personnel, and discipline are used as examples to illustrate the differences in military cultures. The key point is, as with culture more generally, military cultures will also be different.
  • Motivations. When considering the motivation of a mentee or trainee, the key point is that everyone is motivated by different things.
  • Corruption. Corruption is frustrating for Western personnel and it is very unlikely you will be able to do anything about it.
  • Education. The differing levels of literacy and numeracy form the two main aspects of the education consideration. The key take-away is to not assume a level of knowledge, experience or education in anyone.
  • Food and Nutrition. Food is a great way of getting to know people across cultures. The nutritional element discusses the effect of trainees and mentees possibly not having an appropriate dietary intake.
  • Time. The last consideration discusses how cultures view time differently. Where Westerners view time sequentially (things happen one after the other), many other cultures view it synchronic (everything happens at once).

Why is it worth reading?

I think this is an important topic because personnel who have enhanced cultural awareness are better prepared to impart more quality knowledge to those of different cultural backgrounds. This makes the transfer of knowledge more seamless and the results that are sought strengthened. I decided to write this article after speaking with several colleagues about their time training or mentoring foreign troops. I found that these soldiers and officers had an immense level of knowledge and experiences that others preparing to deploy could apply to current operations.

Why only Afghanistan and Iraq?

I accept that because the examples in this article were predominantly drawn from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the considerations outlined have a bias toward representing those cultures. However, other discussions with colleagues about training and mentoring deployments to East Timor, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, Mali and Bangladesh make me think that they are still useful more broadly than Afghanistan and Iraq. The nine considerations are not necessarily the only or most important considerations; they are a consensus view of people who have been out and experienced training or mentoring foreign troops. The nine considerations will be covered in more depth following a brief discussion on what culture is.

What is culture?

For the purposes of this article, culture is defined as a collection of values, attitudes and beliefs which a group of people share. I will explain further using the cultural iceberg metaphor. This metaphor uses an iceberg to simplify the complexity of culture; there are certain cultural elements one can see, like an iceberg’s tip.[1] However, much of culture, like an iceberg, is unobservable. The cultural elements above the surface are usually easy to understand and thus observable, things like music, dress and food. Characteristics you can’t immediately see, the things that lay below the surface, are much more difficult to observe and understand; these include values, attitudes and beliefs. Lists of cultural do’s and don’ts, which are often handed out on pre-deployment training, may be useful to understand very basic, above the surface, cultural elements. However, lists, including the nine in this article, cannot fully explain complex cultural elements. Therefore, more time needs to be invested in reading and observing the more complex elements of another culture.


Communication is the most important thing you need to understand. If you cannot pass on knowledge to other people, you are wasting your time training or mentoring foreign troops. As well as attempting to learn as much of the local language as you can, the purposeful employment of interpreters was the number one recommendation given by personnel on the topic of communication. Indirect communication and body language are two other facets of communication that will be discussed in more detail here.

Language is at the focal point of culture. As a New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class Two explained; “the language barrier was the main (cultural) issue – we had one interpreter for two Western mentors.” Because you will not usually speak the same language as the people you are training or mentoring, you will most likely conduct some form of pre-deployment language training, typically over half a day, possibly slightly longer. On the short language course, you will not have time to learn complex vocabulary; you will learn basic greetings and how to introduce yourself. Speaking several words of the local language is not enough. You may be directing, spotting, mentoring or training soldiers who can’t speak your language. They will be learning how to use weapon systems and you will be right next to them.

Without interpreters, or embedded language specialists, you would not be able to communicate effectively with your trainees or mentees to the required level of understanding. This basic point illustrates the immense value of having quality interpreters and the need to purposefully employ them to their full capacity while also respecting them. There is an art to the employment of interpreters. It is not as straightforward as talking at them and expecting the same message to get to the person you are wishing to communicate with. The US Field Doctrine Counterinsurgency provides basic guidance on how to best employ interpreters to their full potential and was provided during discussions as a good place to start.[2]

Learning language is not just about words. The emphasis and tone you place on words, even the meaning of words, can be different across cultures. Personnel had experienced occasions where trainees and mentees had used indirect language, something they were not used to and generally struggled to understand. Westerners, who generally tend to be more direct in conversation, may think about being indirect as talking around an issue or even being rude. For example, in Iraq, a common way to say no to a question is to say “I’ll see what I can do.” The indirect use of words in the Middle East is linked to deep cultural values and customs; instead of being a rude thing to do, indirect communication provides Arabs, as well as other peoples, with a method of not confronting people and thus not discrediting a person’s honour and pride. In their eyes, being indirect in certain circumstances is the opposite of being rude.

Communication is not limited to spoken or written words. Non-verbal communication, including body language, is an important means to transfer knowledge and feelings. As with very different languages and scripts, different cultures have different ways to non-verbally communicate. For example, in Western countries, the thumbs up gesture is a positive thing to do, usually meaning good, awesome or yes. The same gesture in traditional Middle Eastern culture translates roughly to “up yours.” In another example of non-verbal communication, a New Zealand Army Captain deployed to Iraq found himself in a close trusted professional relationship with the Iraqi Army Major he was assigned to train; “I became very tight with the Major I was training – we became close and often held hands.” Holding hands between heterosexual males in Western cultures is not the norm, but this Captain understood that by doing so he would be communicating a level of trust and acceptance with the Major, as well as accepting an aspect of the local culture.



I would ask the Afghans – where are your sentries? They would say – we don’t need sentries, inshallah.”

– New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant


Two main themes came out of discussions about religion and training or mentoring foreign troops; the first theme was a requirement to attempt to understand the local religion. The second was a practical requirement to accept that throughout the deployment, possibly every day, there may be certain religious commitments (i.e. prayer times) that the trainee or mentee may have to undertake.

Personnel I discussed the topic of religion with explained that those who attempted to understand and respected the local religion generally did a better job on deployment. A practical example illustrates the complexity and value of this point. A Canadian Army Warrant Officer found that understanding how religion and beliefs may be linked was important to shape learning, show respect and build rapport. The Canadian Warrant Officer had discussed with Arabs how oil was produced in the ground over thousands of years through geological processes. An Arab soldier disagreed and stated that “this can’t be, it is Allah’s will that we have crude oil – Allah made the crude.” Over half of the class agreed with the Arab soldier. After being initial shocked at the soldier’s response, the Warrant Officer attempted to understand the topic from their point of view. He accepted that the Arab’s perception as well as the general Western perception of the topic were both realities (in other words perception is reality).

As well as being the right thing to do, fitting with the ethos of Western militaries, respecting the trainee and mentees’ religion does have an operational effect; several personnel explained that individuals who attempted to understand and respect the local religion generally held the trust of their trainees and mentees enabling greater interaction, thus producing greater effect.

Several personnel explained that during a training day, there may be instances when a trainee or mentee has prayer times or other religious commitment. A New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant noted that the fasting month of Ramadan was an extremely important period of the year in Iraq and Afghanistan. During Ramadan, trainees and mentees may travel home for days at a time, away from the training location. The New Zealand Staff Sergeant noted that during Ramadan his trainees had not eaten for much of the day were obviously hungry and tired. The key recommendation on this point was to plan for religious festivities and events throughout the deployment and every day.[3] As a British Warrant Officer Class Two explained, the month of Ramadan may not be the ideal time to conduct the most physically strenuous activities. This theme is in line with a recent article in the British Army Review by Captain James Pastouna.[4]

Family and Tribe

This consideration discusses how the topic of family can be used as a way of connecting with others. It also discusses how different cultures may think of family and tribal allegiances differently than Westerners. Everyone has a family; it is one of the few things that link everyone. A New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class Two noted that “a great way of building rapport was asking questions of the (Afghan) soldier’s family.” Most personnel had spoken with their trainees or mentees about family. The trainees and mentees generally showed great interest in stories and photos which connected and built trust with their trainees and mentees. As British Army Major Rupert King-Evans stated in a recent British Army Review article, “Take and show photographs of your children and modest photos of your spouse. This will help create a sense that you are a family man as well as making the indigenous force see you as a human being.”[5]

While asking questions about the families of trainees and mentees, it was recommended that personnel are cautious of asking about sensitive topics; in Iraq and Afghanistan this included asking about the trainees or mentees female family members. Also, a British Army Warrant Officer Class Two explained that “in cultures where family and clan are important you are expected to do your duty and have children.” It may appear odd to some cultures, including in the Middle East and South Asia, if a middle-aged male does not have children and a wife.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, personnel found that trainees and mentees’ allegiances are sometimes more to their family or tribe than to their country. Where Westerners may show allegiance to their government or nation, others may have a stronger allegiance to their local tribe or other social structure. This may be understandable given that central governments at times lack the ability to provide services to the trainee or mentees’ family in isolated areas or conflict-prone districts. Tribal dynamics are complex and are not the subject of this consideration; for those interested in learning more about tribal dynamics see David Ronfeldt’s In Search of How Societies Work: Tribe – the First and Forever Form.[6]

Military Culture

Like different countries, militaries across the world have different cultures. Some militaries are culturally like others, for example Australia, New Zealand and Canada, while others may be very different. The distinction between commissioned and non-commissioned personnel, and discipline are the two examples this article uses to discuss military culture as a key consideration while training or mentoring foreign troops. The key take-away is to remember that the military culture of the force you are training or mentoring will be different than your own.

A US Marine Corps Major and a New Zealand Army Captain who had both deployed to Iraq were particularly struck by the work routine of Iraqi Army officers. Iraqi officers would generally not want to train alongside their soldiers because it showed they “did not already know the skills” and could have conflicted an Iraqi officers honour in front of his men. Moreover, the New Zealand Army Captain felt that Iraqi officers are treated like “gods or kings” by soldiers, as well as Iraqi society more generally. The distinction between the commissioned and non-commissioned in Afghanistan was also raised by a New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class Two. The Warrant Officer explained that even though the senior Afghan non-commissioned officer he was assigned to mentor had combat experience and had been to university, he was not respected “because of the way Afghan military culture is – officers run everything and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) have little respect or responsibilities – he was not respected at all!” The relationship between Arab/South Asian officers and soldiers is very different than the relationship between Western officers and soldiers. This theme shocked several personnel during their deployments.

Western military personnel are used to strict discipline when training – standing up during lectures to ensure you don’t fall asleep is an example and it trains personnel to think about being disciplined on sentry in the cold hours of the night. When Westerners get it wrong, (i.e. fall asleep on sentry or in the class room) Western personnel are conditioned to think being disciplined by the chain of command is fair and just. However, as a New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class Two put it, Western punishment or corrective training for things like falling asleep during class never worked when training the Afghan National Army (ANA). One example included ANA personnel being ordered to crawl across the parade ground by Western trainers for falling asleep in class; it never happened. “The ANA superiors didn’t allow it; you cannot put Western military discipline over Afghan society – it just doesn’t work.” One of the key reasons why it would “never work” in Afghan society revolves around saving face, honour as well as their own military traditions.


Western soldiers are motivated to join and stay in the military by different things; some just need a job, others want a steady income or education while others seek out a professional military career. The varying nature of motivations in the military is shared across cultures – those I discussed this topic with all agreed and your training or mentoring audience will be no different – they will be motivated by all sorts of things. Following is an extensive list of factors personnel raised when asked what motivated the foreign troops they had trained or mentored;

family, tribe, nationalism, competition, money, never about money, pride in oneself, to do well at their job, fear of punishment from their higher (command), hatred of the enemy, scared of the enemy, leave for the weekends, leave in general, hatred of extremism, sense of duty, to stay alive and go home, pride, the will to take control of their own destiny, time of the day, time of the year, what was going on nationally or locally or in the media and what was going on at home.

A US Marine Corps Major who was deployed to Iraq in a training role explained that although money was the main motivating factor for the troops he was training “even that did not motivate most of them.” A New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant who had deployed to Afghanistan in a mentoring role noted that “some of the highly motivated pers (personnel) wanted to learn, wanted their country to get better. The less motivated pers were at times, less educated, malnourished, or were sick.” Some of your trainees or mentees may appear less motivated than military personnel you are used to dealing with. A minority of troops may appear to “just not care” as a New Zealand Army Captain put it. Personnel felt that the best way to approach this dilemma is to try and discover what could motivate the individual. When considering motivation, the key point is that everyone is motivated by different things.



“There’s a sociologist who spent a lot of time [in Afghanistan] who asked Americans to define what corruption is. They would say something like, ‘when you give your cousin a job.’  Then he went to Afghanistan and asked them to define corruption, they said, ‘that’s when you have a job to give and you don’t give it to your cousin.”[7]

– Journalist David Brooks


Corruption is a social construct that is perceived in different ways by people of different upbringings and cultures. Experiences of personnel has shown that Westerners will very likely encounter an effect of corruption during a training or mentoring deployment. The best way to deal with it is to accept that, however frustrating it may be, you will not change other peoples’ views of corruption during your deployment.

The experiences of several personnel agree that Westerners generally struggle to understand or cope with corruption, as they see it. Personnel have struggled to comprehend that perceived negative activities that Westerns may call corrupt, may just be ways of life. Seemingly negative activities such as nepotism (i.e. giving your cousin a job over a person who has the right qualifications and experience[8]) that appear to corrupt Western ideals may be functional in tribal-based cultures, such as in Afghanistan.[9]

Most personnel spoke of instances on deployment where they experienced results of corruption. The most common way personnel saw corruption, or a result of corruption, was trainees and mentees not having serviceable equipment because it had, in their view, most likely been syphoned off. Examples included trainees and mentees not having body armour, ammunition and fuel for heating, even though it had already been provided. Equipment that is sold to a third party creates several second order effects, including the point that the equipment now may be in the hands of adversaries.

It is useful to look at this topic through their eyes; selling issued equipment, as well as other forms of corruption, may meet the immediate needs of a family, such as food or heating over winter. Trainees and mentees, especially at the lower end of the rank ladder, may have no say in selling their issued equipment. It may be people higher up the chain of command that are profiting. Corruption is a complex and sensitive topic which is viewed differently across cultures. The people you are training or mentoring may have a very different attitude to corruption.


Several of the personnel noted experiences in which they had to deal with people who had differing levels of education; some trainees and mentees could not read, while others could not count. Personnel generally agreed that different education standards could complicate communication between a trainer/trainee or mentor/mentee and possibly result in a negative relationship if the issue was not dealt with in a sensitive manner. The two main educational aspects that personnel raised were literacy and numeracy.

Literacy among Western military audiences is generally high because of education standards and facilities. As such, Western military education is organised with the assumption that personnel will be able to read and write. However, this assumption does not apply across all cultures, as a New Zealand Army Captain discovered during his deployment to Afghanistan. The Captain found that an Afghan National Police officer did not require map reading lessons as he believed he already had an intimate knowledge of the entire province. The Captain did not push the matter with the Afghans as he suspected “his (Afghan) literacy was not up to map reading.” The Captain’s example illustrates the fact that trainees and mentees may not be able to read material that others would assume Western soldiers could.

A British Army Warrant Officer Class Two agreed and recommended that an increased emphasis on models, sand tables and practical lessons instead of formal lectures where notes would have to be taken, would help illiterate or less-literate trainees and mentees to overcome learning difficulties. A New Zealand Army Sapper with a background in understanding cultures and religions thought that oral histories (war stories included) would be well received by less literate trainees or mentees, especially within tribal-based societies.  Instead of tedious acronym-led PowerPoint lectures, oral histories could be way to overcome illiteracy while still delivering meaningful training and mentoring advice.[10]

Basic numeracy was the other key educational factor raised by personnel. A New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class Two explained a remarkable story of his time in Kabul training the ANA. The Warrant Officer watched an officer cadet do over 40 press-ups and then asked him, through an interpreter, how many press-ups he did; the cadet replied “30” as he thought it was the right amount he had to do. The Warrant Officer later discovered that the Afghan could not count. Education levels, especially literacy and numeracy, should be considered by trainers and mentors when delivering training and interacting more generally. The key point is to not assume a level of education in an individual. Once it is understood what his or her level of education or understanding is, trainers and mentors should consider how to best impart the required information without humiliating the trainee or mentee.

Food and Nutrition


“Always eat the local food – I always had goat, naan and rice. This was a massive boost to the relationship.”

– New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant


To varying frequencies, all trainers and mentors had eaten with their trainees and mentees. The first part of this consideration highlights the value in sharing food with those you are training or mentoring. The second part of this consideration, nutrition, looks at how the trainees and mentees may have a poorer diet than you, possibly resulting in exhaustion.

Food is a great way of getting to know people. As on Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel who recently deployed to Iraq put it “there’s no better way to build rapport than to ‘break bread’ while experiencing host-nation hospitality and culture. Whether it be sharing chai before training, or Iftar – the evening meal to break the Ramadan fast—after training…”[11] US field doctrine Counterinsurgency agrees while noting that trainers “…should willingly accept many aspects of the local and national culture, including food (if sanitation standards permit).”[12]

As Counterinsurgency notes in brackets, although it may be a good idea from a cultural point of view to eat the local food, personnel do need to be cautious of different hygiene levels. A British Army Warrant Officer Class Two recommended that where appropriate, “inviting indigenous forces to eat with the trainers is a good way to avoid any issues (with food hygiene) especially as the trainer’s food is generally locally sourced but possibly prepared to a better standard with regards to health.” While offering trainees food, it may be worth thinking about if the food is prepared to halal standards if in a Muslim country. On one occasion, food that was offered to Afghan soldiers by New Zealanders was rejected because it was not halal.

Although it will not be your task to worry about the trainee or mentee’s food intake, nutrition is an important factor to consider when training or mentoring foreign troops. Several personnel explained that because of their poor diet, trainees and mentees often had lower alertness and were sometimes exhausted. For example, a New Zealand Army Captain found that foreign troops he was assigned to train often had very little protein in their diet and linked this with soldiers sometimes being too weak to conduct physical orientated tasks. During Ramadan’s fasting, this theme could be amplified. Consider how training could best consider a lack of energy at a certain time of the day.



 “…actions that took place centuries ago sound like they happened yesterday…”[13]

– British Army Captain


This consideration discusses how concepts of time are different across cultures. Whereas urgency and timeliness are generally valued by Western society, as well as instilled in Western military personnel, the same cultural concepts are not as important in other cultures.[14] This consideration also discusses how cultures may value a sequential or synchronic approach to time.

Following his deployment to Afghanistan where he helped train Afghan National Police, a New Zealand Army Captain thought that one of the biggest cultural themes that he remembered from the country was the locals’ concept of time. He noted that “it can be extremely frustrating trying to work in a culture where urgency is not valued.” The core recommendation raised by personnel was to remain flexible with the people you are training or mentoring; they may not consider being on-time for a planned meeting is important like Westerners often do.

Timeliness is an aspect of a sequential way of valuing time. Western cultures generally value time sequentially, in other words ordering a day with items one after the other in a methodical way; giving all your attention to one topic at a time.[15] For example; a training lesson takes place at 0900 followed by a morning tea at 1030, another lecture at 1045, lunch at 1200 and afternoon lectures etc. Key effects of this Western norm include a significant valuing of short snippets of time, an expectation for fast results and short memories.

In other cultures, Afghanistan and Iraq included, time is not as precise while these cultures generally order their day in a synchronic manner; multiple things happening at once. These cultures generally use a synchronic approach to manage their day which may appear chaotic to Westerners. Basically, these cultures may not put all their attention into one thing at a time. For example, while conducting an official meeting these individuals may also use their phones and not consider this rude, as a US Marine Corps Major discovered. While conducting the same official meeting, and on the phone for a period, they may want to eat, drink, meet others, talk about family and not talk about business at all. This can be frustrating for Western military personnel but while deployed it is more important to be flexible and try and understand they may not consider timeliness important at all; their trust is more important than any meeting.



If the Afghans tell you they are going to look after you, it means a lot.”

– New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant


During the discussions and background work on this article, I asked everyone how they generally found working with the foreign troops and what recommendations they would want to pass on to someone preparing for a training or mentoring role; the raw recommendations are included at the end of this article. Most personnel answering the first question about how they found training or mentoring agree with three simple words of a New Zealand Army Captain “challenging, but rewarding.” The challenging part for most personnel was cultural frustration whereas the rewarding part was, ironically, overcoming the frustration and building strong relationships.

An experienced colleague of mine once provided an invaluable piece of advice. It was something along the lines of “don’t expect anyone else to feed you the exact information you need – you need to actively seek it out yourself.” Your deployment doesn’t start once you arrive in theatre. Your deployment starts as soon as you find out the news that you will be committing a significant amount of time training or mentoring foreign troops. This is when you start your own appreciation of the environment; you need to read as much as you can about the local culture and language. Another colleague provided me with another piece of advice; “once you are deployed, conduct regular section/squad level debriefs dedicated to the topic of culture as it affects your mission.” As you would with battle preparation, use the down-time you have to prepare for your mission. The core point of this article was to start tactical level discussion around cultural considerations of training and mentoring foreign troops.


I would like to thank the soldiers and officers who provided me with their time during the preparation for this article and my colleagues who provided feedback throughout. I would especially like to thank Mr Jason Rogers, Mr Matt Aslett, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Duncan and Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera for their editing input and backing.


Brooks, David. Public lecture presented at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. May 14 2013. Referenced in Cavanaugh, ML. “Words for War: Seven Great Quotes on War You’ve Never Read.” Modern War Institute. Accessed January 22, 2017.

Collingburn, Lieutenant Colonel Ash (Australian Army). “Aussie Diggers: Building Partner Capacity.” ASPI: The Strategist, September 12, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2016.

Earp, Major Roger (New Zealand Army). “Building Partner Capacity (BPC) – An Afghan Experience.” New Zealand Army Journal. Vol. 3 (November 2016), pp. 75-80.

Goman, Carol Kinsey. “How Culture Controls Communication.” Forbes, November 28, 2011. Accessed January 10, 2017.

Hooker, John. Corruption from a Cross-Cultural Perspective. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University, 2008. Available in PDF from Carnegie Mellon University. Accessed January 10, 2017.

Hooker, John. Working Across Cultures. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2003.

King-Evans, Major Rupert (British Army). “Mentoring Foreign Soldiers: A Guide for British Troops.” British Army Review, Vol. 167, (Summer 2016), pp. 94-101.

Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). “Arab Cultural Awareness: 58 Factsheets.” TRADOC DCSINT Handbook No. 2. Fort Leavenworth: US Department of Defense, 2006. Accessed January 10, 2017.

Pastouna, Captain James (British Army), “Training Arab Armed Forces: What’s Important and What’s Not?” British Army Review, Vol. 167, (Summer 2016), pp. 84-93.

Rasmussen, Louise J. and Sieck, Winston R. “Strategies for Developing and Practising Cross-Cultural Expertise in the Military.” Military Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, (March-April 2012), pp. 71-80.

Ronfeldt, David. In Search of How Societies Work: Tribes – The First and Forever Form. Santa Monica: RAND Pardee Centre, 2006.

United States Department of Defence. FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 Counterinsurgency. Washington D.C: United States Department of Defence, 2006.

Adaptive Warfighting Centre, New Zealand Army and Massey University, Irregular Warfare Symposium. Linton Military Camp, New Zealand, August 27, 2015.

[1] John Hooker, Working Across Cultures (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2003), 2.

[2] United States Department of Defense, FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 Counterinsurgency (Washington D.C: United States Department of Defense, 2006), Appendix C, C-1.

[3] This theme is in line with a recent British Army Review article; Captain James Pastouna, “Training Arab Armed Forces: What’s Important and What’s Not?” British Army Review, Vol. 167, (Summer 2016), 87.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Major Rupert King-Evans (British Army), “Mentoring Foreign Soldiers: A Guide for British Troops” British Army Review, Vol. 167, (Summer 2016), 97.

[6] David Ronfeldt, In Search of How Societies Work: Tribes – the First and Forever Form (Santa Monica: RAND Pardee Centre, 2006).

[7] David Brooks, public lecture at CSIS, 14 May 2013; referenced in ML Cavanaugh, “Words for War: Seven Great Quotes on War You’ve Never Read” Modern War Institute, 22 January 2015, accessed December 20, 2016,

[8] Ibid.

[9] For an in-depth look at inter-cultural corruption see John Hooker, Corruption from a Cross-Cultural Perspective, (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University, 2008), available in PDF from Carnegie Mellon University, accessed  January 10, 2017

[10] Also see Pastouna, “Training Arab Armed Forces: What’s Important and What’s Not?”.

[11] Lieutenant Colonel Ash Collingburn (Australian Army), “Aussie Diggers: Building Partner Capacity” ASPI: The Strategist, 12 September 2016, accessed December 19, 2016,

[12] FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 Counterinsurgency, 6-13: 6-60.

[13] Pastouna, “Training Arab Armed Forces: What’s Important and What’s Not?”, 87.

[14] Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), “Arab Cultural Awareness: 58 Factsheets”, TRADOC DCSINT Handbook No. 2, (Fort Leavenworth: US Department of Defense, 2006), accessed January 10, 2017

[15] Carol Kinsey Goman, “How Culture Controls Communication” Forbes, dated 28 November 2011, accessed 10 January 2017, Modelling Demonstration - apacity Building activity in Niger