Author Biography

Dr Emily Spencer has a PhD in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC). She is currently the Director of Research and Education at the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command Professional Development Centre. Her research focuses on the importance of cultural knowledge to success in the contemporary operating environment, particularly as it applies to special operations forces, as well as the role the media plays in shaping understandings of world events. Dr Spencer has published widely in these areas, as well as in the field of gender and war.



Subject Area Keywords

Asymmetric warfare, Complex operations, Irregular warfare, Security studies, Small wars and insurgencies, Sociocultural dynamics in security


In order to provide regional solutions to potentially world-wide problems, global special operations forces (SOF) networks maximize the benefits of SOF, in particular, their aptitude and ability to perform in a culturally intelligent manner. Indeed, to be able to facilitate regional solutions to potentially global problems, SOF need to exhibit high levels of cultural intelligence, which requires an understanding of culture combined with an ability to apply strategic thinking. By being able to address issues critically and creatively – the hallmarks of strategic thinking – while understanding and behaving appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts, SOF, acting within global networks, provide collective, cost effective, pre-emptive solutions for an increasingly volatile and interconnected world. This article explores methods for increasing levels of cultural intelligence and highlights the benefits of doing so while also warning of the pitfalls of not behaving in a culturally intelligent manner.