The Cognitive Crucible is a forum that presents different perspectives and emerging thought leadership related to the information environment. The opinions expressed by guests are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of or endorsement by the Information Professionals Association.
During this episode, Dr. Heather Gregg of the US Army War College explores how collective identity building and myths–stories designed to tell a group of people who they are, where they came from and how they should behave–shape violent conflict. Heather contrasts the way identity is used by insurgencies and counterinsurgency efforts and sketches lessons learned from recent operations against Al Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq, as well as the role that identity is playing in the Ukrainian war. Our wide-ranging conversation also covers implications of horizontal and vertical cultural transmission of information, myths as a form of storytelling, and mixing up myth and history.
Dr. Gregg’s opinions are her own & do not represent the opinions of the US Army War College or the Department of Defense
Heather S. Gregg is a professor at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI). From 2006-2019, she was an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Department of Defense Analysis, where she worked primarily with Special Operations Forces. Prior to joining NPS, she was an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. In addition to her academic experience, she has spent time in several regions of conflict including Palestine/West Bank and the former Yugoslavia.
Dr. Gregg earned her Ph.D. in Political Science in 2003 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her dissertation work was on historic and contemporary causes of religiously motivated violence. Dr. Gregg also holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she studied Islam, and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Dr. Gregg is the author of The Path to Salvation: Religious Violence from the Crusades to Jihad (Potomac, 2014) and Building the Nation: Missed Opportunities in Iraq & Afghanistan (University of Nebraska Press, 2018). She also has published articles and book chapters on Al Qaeda, including “Fighting the Jihad of the Pen: Countering Al Qaeda’s Ideology” (Terrorism and Political Violence, 2010) and “Crafting a Better Grand Strategy to Fight the Global War on Terror: Lessons from the Early Years of the Cold War” (Foreign Policy Analysis, 2010), in addition to co-editing and contributing to The Three Circles of War: Understanding the Dynamics of Modern War in Iraq (Potomac, 2010).
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