Cultural Specialists will help commanders in Afghanistan

A new Defence Cultural Specialist Unit (DCSU), created to provide deployable cultural specialists to assist operational commanders on operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, was launched on Tuesday 1 September 2009.

The unit’s inaugural cultural specialists’ training course also began on Tuesday in Central London, attended by UK military personnel, civil servants from the USA, MOD, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development, and the Civil Service Stabilisation Unit.The creation of a cadre of cultural specialists able to deploy to any operational theatre recognises the need for a wider understanding of the effects that cultural influences can have upon military activity within the operational environment.

Commander John Garratt RN, a team leader within the unit, explained how the MOD has long recognised the need for cultural training:

“Every soldier, sailor and airman currently deploying to Afghanistan already undertakes a period of pre-deployment training [PDT] that includes some ‘dos and don’ts’ of cultural training.

“PDT helps us all to avoid doing things that are seen as ‘negative’ in the eyes of Afghans. There remains however a need for greater emphasis to influence the hearts and minds of everyone, from the youngest child, up to the most influential leader.”

When fully operating, DCSU will provide a raft of training and education courses to improve defence cultural understanding, ranging from language training to wider cultural studies.


Sergeant Matt Pallas, C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, speaking to locals during Operation PANTHER’S CLAW.  [Photo: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Information provided by the MoD.

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