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Military AnthropologySoldiers, Scholars and Subjects at the Margins of Empire$
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Montgomery McFate

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190680176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190680176.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

Don Marshall and the Strategic Objective

Don Marshall and the Strategic Objective

(p.279) 8 Don Marshall and the Strategic Objective
Military Anthropology

Montgomery McFate

Oxford University Press

Under the fluorescent lights of the Pentagon and in the villages of Vietnam, Donald S. Marshall brought an anthropological perspective to bear on the most pressing national security issue of his day – determination of the ‘kind of war’ upon which the US had embarked, and the most expedient way to fight it. In the PROVN report and later in the Long Range Planning Task Group, Marshall outlined a ‘whole society’ approach to warfare, with a focus on directed social change as an element of strategy. Marshall’s most significant contribution as a military anthropologist was his approach to Vietnam: viewing local culture and social structure not as an externality of war, but as a crucial factor. Marshall’s concern in this regard was uncommon; very infrequently does the military actually consider the wellbeing of the host nation society as the ‘object beyond war.’ One might ask, why not? This chapter begins by making the case that though war always involves social change, the post-war condition of the host nation society is generally omitted from the end state envisioned by policy makers, and is thus omitted at the military planning level.

Keywords:   Donald S. Marshall, Vietnam, Anthropology, PROVN, Social change, Military planning

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