Another lesson learned in Afghanistan: the concept of cultural intelligence
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Culture has recently become a significant aspect of military operations; the ability to win hearts and minds' of a local population is gained through cultural awareness, a product of cultural intelligence. This article aims to discuss the role of culture during peace operations in particular, and population-centric military operations in general. In this context, the concept of cultural intelligence is discussed through the concepts of power', intelligence', and culture'. The theoretical discussion raises the importance of cultural intelligence for the exercise of soft and smart power in operational areas. NATO's International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan was chosen as a case study and the data were collected through interviews with an expert group of 45 individuals. These interviewees with field experience in peace operations provided a foundation for widening the theoretical approach. The article concludes with the interpretation of the obtained data. The research findings prove that the skill of conquering people's hearts and minds in operation environments can be developed through cultural intelligence, and military leaders/political decision-makers should not neglect cultural intelligence as a soft power tool in peace operations as well as in population-centric military operations.