Reducing the Negative Effects of Tribalism: Promoting Character Building and Cooperation in Today’s Combat Forces

  • 2017
  • Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis

Reducing the Negative Effects of Tribalism: Promoting Character Building and Cooperation in Today’s Combat Forces

Author:
Luke Knapp
Abstract:

In the majority of conflicts that the United States and its Western allies are currently engaged, counter-insurgency operations are the preferred method of operation against irregular enemies such as the Afghani Taliban and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Daesh. This style of warfare requires appealing to the local populace and working well with the partner nation’s forces, yet U.S. military operations often engender two dispositions among its troops that may inhibit such cooperative efforts. These two dispositions are predatory aggression caused by prolonged engagement in combat and tribalism growing out of small unit cohesion. While not inherently counterproductive, they can cloud the warfighter’s mind and cause him to make poor ethical decisions. A careful look at these dispositions leads one to deduce they are both natural among soldiers and may assist in accomplishing conventional, military versus military missions.  However, the inability of warfighters to realign to the new fight against an irregularly structured enemy and relinquish the biases created by predatory aggression and tribalism may cause mission failure. Measures to address these naturally developing dispositions among the combat troops should focus on character development and constructive bias mitigation.