Know you neighborhood.

In our previous post, I wrote this:

But the Army and the Navy are also somewhat insular organizations, with limited interaction with the rest of the community.

I was reminded of this and had to give it some more thought when I read this:

Determine who has the power, who is “the guy” in a particular area, get his support by giving him a quick win-a garbage clean up contract, or the chance to host a dance party…

That’s S4 at War, talking about counterinsurgency techniques (and HIV research). His point is that Army units engaged in counterinsurgency need to get into communities and learn to identify who the local centers of influence are. If you can sway the Big Man on Campus, you have solved half your problems.

It is interesting though, that this is an approach that troops at the home station rarely take. In most communities with a large military presence here in the US, there’s something of a “town vs. gown” aspect, much like the tension between locals and students in a university town. Not a hostility. There’s a symbiotic relationship. But for all the interaction, there’s a good bit of self segregation as well.

2 thoughts on “Know you neighborhood.”

  1. From what I have seen this issue is a major problem in Australia. Visibility is near zero and when there is visibility the contact and communication is either verboten or limited. The media provides the lion’s share too which isn’t very encouraging.

  2. The problems with the western media is that they are still stuck in the cold-war era notion that the military is where the low performers go. Or that recruiters are targeting “children”. Movies and tv shows don’t help either.

    As to the “town and gown” problem, that always happens with two different groups. When I was in college, most of the townies kept to themselves and never really bothered to explore the campus. Given that I was a townie going to that college, it struck me as odd, since the college was a significant employer.

    After my first semester, I discovered that it was a different value set and different rhythm that set the town and college apart.
    Unless a townie had family employed by the college or enrolled as students, they did not give the school much thought.

    The same is true for military bases and the local community.

    At Fort Bliss, we deploy and train, the war touches our lives daily. El Pasoans see the war on TV and hear about military exercises in the paper. Even here, unless someone has family in the military, most see the war and the army as something “other”.

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