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Dr. Mark Luce discusses challenges of gaining cultural understanding

On Wednesday, April 6, 2011, Dr. Mark Luce, a member of the Army Special Operations Command, 4th Military Information Support Group (MISG), discussed “Conquering Cultural Canyons” at The Institute of World Politics.  This lecture was part of IWP’s Distinguished Military Speakers Series. 

Dr. Luce shared some of his experiences from living abroad for over forty years in eight different countries and discussed how he matured from a tourist to a traveler.  He stressed that his journey over many years to become culturally competent involved transcending three levels of cultural awareness: gaining survival skills; understanding societal components and undercurrents; and finally, grasping transgenerational and transnational perspectives and sensing change and emerging trends and movements. 

He utilizes his experiences in his role as a 4th MISG Strategic Studies Section analyst, which focuses on the CENTCOM area of operations.  Dr. Luce stated that the average analyst in the 4th MISG has on average 28 years of experience, is fluent in multiple languages, and has earned a PhD. 

According to Dr. Luce, “the MISG analyst must operate in two worlds.”  Such individuals are both intelligence analysts and operators who deploy on a routine basis.  They also write assessments, special studies, and often provide briefs to senior members of the special operations community. 

Dr. Luce concluded his talk by discussing his recent experiences conducting military information support operations (MISO) in Afghanistan, which primarily focused on information programs to: protect the population, support the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces), degrade/ malign insurgency networks, degrade criminal networks, support Afghan governance, and promote socio-economic development.