Review (Retired Reader): Solving the People Puzzle — Cultural Intelligence and Special Operations Forces

4 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Best Practices in Management, Culture, Research, Force Structure (Military), Information Operations, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
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Dr. Emily Spencer (Author)

4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligence Support for Speical Operations Forces,August 15, 2011

This book provides an excellent description of the personal, organization and mission of what are called Special Operations Forces (SOF) and their relationship to conventional forces. More importantly it introduces the concept of `cultural intelligence’ as the precise type of intelligence information that SOF unit need to successfully execute their missions.

Cultural Intelligence which Spencer refers to as “CQ” (to avoid confusion with Counter Intelligence (CI)) is a combination of ethnography, sociology, and psychology. As Spencer makes clear successful counter-insurgency operations (COIN) and counter-terrorism (CT) programs depend on understanding the cultural environment in which they are conducted. That is it is necessary to understand the underlying social structures, beliefs, and motivations of the populations constitute what she refers to as the Contemporary Operating Environment within which SOF missions are conducted. This important insight is one of those concepts which appear obvious, but only have somebody has developed it.

Actually this book published in 2010 is complemented by a paper published in May 2011 by two analysts of the U.S. Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies that argues that the most effective U.S. military COIN and CT operations carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the work of “High Value Target Teams” in which intelligence elements are integrated with SOF war fighters to create the paper called “combined function teams” in which intelligence is made immediately and directly available to the combat elements of the team. While this paper was more concerned with the innovative organization aspect of these teams, undoubtedly the type of intelligence used by the teams included cultural intelligence.

Overall this book is an important because of its explanations of SOF as a unique military concept and the close relationship between successful SOF operations and good intelligence, especially CQ. All in all its an important contribution to the art and science of COIN and CT operations.

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