The study of American exceptionalism and cross-cultural communications has the ability to improve U.S. military effectiveness in USPACOM. Understanding these two cultural principles will improve effectiveness in three ways. First, it allows USPACOM personnel to understand their biases. Second, it gives USPACOM personnel a perspective on how nations in their area of responsibility may potentially view their actions. Finally, cross-cultural communications provides tools for USPACOM personnel to overcome their biases and skepticism from potential partners or adversaries, setting the stage for more effective military engagements.
The importance of understanding these two cultural elements will magnify in the future due to the pending shift of United States foreign policy focus to the Asia-Pacific region. Complicating this shift is the complexity of the operating environment. The USPACOM area of responsibility encompasses about half the earth’s surface. Such a large area makes USPACOM a cornucopia of cultural, social, economic, and geo-political diversity. According to USPACOM, their area of responsibility is comprised of 36 nations containing more than 50% of the world’s population and three thousand different languages. These 36 nations vary widely in both economic and military power and religious practices. Given the vastness of the Asia-Pacific region, the United States built a strategy centered on building partnerships in the region. The National Security Strategy outlines the strategy stating, the U.S. will advance its interest “through our alliances, deepen our relationships with emerging powers, and pursue a stronger role in the region’s multilateral architecture.”
As a key instrument of U.S. foreign policy, the military will find itself at the forefront of numerous engagements in the region during this shift. Admiral Locklear commander of USPACOM defined his intent on how engagements will be conducted stating, “we will strengthen alliances and partnerships, maintain an assured presence in the region, and effectively communicate our intent and resolve to safeguard U.S. national interest.” Both the National Security Strategy and USPACOM strategy place strong emphasis on communicating with nations in the region and building partnerships. A sound understanding of the cultural environment is critical in achieving these strategic objectives.
Incorporating cultural understanding into the planning process gives military leaders an edge in planning effective engagements that will eventually result in better communication with both adversaries and allies and stronger partnerships across the region. To achieve cultural understanding USPACOM personnel must first exam the concept of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism has several meanings, which led Ceaser to describe it as not a concept but a family of concepts. However, Ceaser does identify the common denominator of these various definitions as a claim to...