Book Review: Save Your Ammo: Working Across Cultures for National Security


by Louise Rasmussen and Winston Sieck.

Yellow Springs, Oh.: Global Cognition, 2019. Pp. vi, 256. . $16.95 paper. ISBN: 1733410201

“Cultural Competencies” to Support Working With Allies

This interesting book is intended by Drs. Rasmussen and Sieck to help military personnel who find themselves working with people – military and civilian, friendly, hostile, or non-committed – of differing cultures under wartime or crisis situations.

Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with veterans, the authors developed a dozen simple guidelines – “cultural competencies” – to help military advisors and other personnel improve their ability to understand, advise, and work with people of different cultural roots.

While this could have been a decidedly boring series of lectures about “cultural sensitivity”, the authors chose to deal with the subject rather like many ancient writers on military theory, such as Sun-tzu, Frontinus, and others. Their guidelines are briefly stated, and then illustrated through numerous examples based on the experience of veterans, whether good or bad, to show what seems to work or not work in different cultures under varying situations.

There some amusing bits in here, such as some personnel on an observer mission drinking endless cups of tea while watching soccer matches with an African war lord with whom they had no language in common. There are also some quite tense instances, such as a possibly disastrous confrontation with one of that same war lord’s teenaged soldiers.

Although Save Your Ammo, lacks references and an index, it is a valuable read for anyone who has to deploy to anywhere.



Note: Save Your Ammo is also available in audio- and e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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