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Program for Culture and Conflict Studies

** New Pakistan Index / Central Asia / mobiAFG / pages. **

** Updates currently underway: please check for provincial overview updates! **

** Sponsorship opportunities available: please see below! **

The Program for Culture and Conflict Studies (CCS) is premised on the belief that the United States must understand the cultures and societies of the world to effectively interact with local people. It is dedicated to the study of anthropological, ethnographic, social, political, and economic data to inform U.S. policies at both the strategic and operational levels.

CCS is the result of a collaborative effort to provide current open source information to Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), mission commanders, academics, and the general public. Covering tribes, politics, trends, and people, this website -- a 21st century gazetteer, provides data, analysis, and maps not available anywhere else.

CCS Sponsorship Opportunities!

Map of AfghanistanCCS Research

The Program for Culture and Conflict Studies collects, organizes, and disseminates anthropological data for the purpose of better preparing individuals and organizations in pursing relationships with other cultures. Our studies include:


Introducing mobiAFG

The Program of Culture and Conflict Studies (CCS) is proud to expand its online offerings by making a modified version of its extensive data sets and reports accessible on BlackBerry devices, iPhones, and iPads but without the need for any internet connection. mobiAFG was built using the BlackBerry Widget SDK 1.0 Beta 3 and supports BlackBerry devices running OS version 5.0 or higher. MobiAFG is also available for portable Macontosh products and is available for free download at the app store here. As this is a web-based application, there is no expected requirement to modify the underlying program architecture of mobiAFG aside from the content itself. All content for the program is stored on the BlackBerry device’s SD card. Please click here for downloading instructions. To ensure the latest version is sent to your BlackBerry, please register for updates to mobiAFG by sending an email to: ccsinfo@nps.edu with the subject line mobiAFG subscription.

CCS Occasional Papers

The CCS Occasional Paper Series seeks to further the education and discussion of issues pertaining to culture and conflict in South and Central Asia. CCS disseminates scholarly essays on an ongoing basis that attempt to contribute to the creation of a more stable environment in Afghanistan. These papers identify and discuss contemporary and interdisciplinary issues that affect U.S. national security interests including politics, economics, ethnographic intelligence, culture, geostrategic interests, national and local development methods, regional and cooperative security, terrorism, and tribal relations. CCS papers are written by faculty and staff members of the Naval Postgraduate School, alumni, and guest contributors.

The CCS Occasional Paper series can be emailed to appropriate .mil email addresses. To receive a copy of any or all of our occasional papers, please contact us at ccsinfo@nps.edu or you may contact Professor Thomas H. Johnson directly at: thjohnso@nps.edu. Our papers include:

The Perception of Colors, Numbers, and Language Among Afghans: The purpose of this study is to provide cultural information operationally relevant to troops and information operators on the ground. For instance, some colors and numbers may have connotations different from, and even opposite to how Americans perceive or value them. Idiomatic expressions and proverbs also constitute important communication tools for expressing complex ideas and deeper thoughts. Comprehension of these cultural traits equips us with tools necessary for communicating effectively with the Afghans.

Operational Pashtunwali: This paper on "“Operational Pashtunwali” is a slight departure from our previous CCS papers. In response to innumerable requests, we have created a tactical product specifically for squad leaders, platoon sergeants, platoon leaders and company commanders that explains the culture of the Afghan south and how to use it in tactical operations. We hope this paper answers the requests, by explaining how the “code” of the Pashtun people can be used both for force protection and as an offensive force multiplier.

Analysis of the Taliban Code of Conduct: This paper on the Taliban’s “code of conduct” offers valuable insight regarding the Taliban’s objectives and key strategies, their attempt at consolidating the movement at the tactical and operational level, and reveals overt and concealed clues into the psyche of the Taliban leadership; highlighting its weaknesses, fears and vulnerabilities. The intention of this paper is to uncover and help exploit cracks found in the Taliban’s organizational structure as well at its operational mode, enhancing the Coalition’s IO-PSYOP arsenal and helping in the creation of effective messaging campaigns targeting the Taliban infrastructure.

Why Poetry Matters to Afghans: Understanding enemy “narratives” requires further knowledge of cultural tropes and values, such as poetry, which will inevitably help western forces compete with or counterbalance the insurgent domination of the IO battleground. Operational examples of analyzed poetry are given throughout this document, including pertinent uses within the counter-IED and counternarcotics realm. Additionally, a primer into how Afghan insurgent forces, such as the Taliban and the Tora Bora Military Front, operationalize poetry and create narratives that resonate with Afghan society is also included. It is with this approach that the CCS hopes to provide the necessary tools and analysis to stimulate US and Coalition forces' attempt to dislodge the insurgent stranglehold on the IO realm and to better enhance allied communication with our Afghan counterparts and citizens.

Afghanistan’s Criminal-Insurgency: Precursor Chemicals (PCC), Fertilizers, and IEDs: This report scrutinizes the potential linkages between chemicals used in the production of drugs; those used in the making of home-made explosives, and the fertilizers currently available in Afghanistan and the implications these three have on the proliferation of IEDs in Afghanistan. Findings include explosive potential, licit and illicit purposes of the chemicals listed, and their overlap in drug and explosives production. Photographic visual aids are also presented to help personnel identify and understand the multitude of different chemicals available in the Afghan battle-space, what the anatomy of a drug lab entails, and what elements are needed to properly run an opium processing and heroin refinement workshop.

Recent Updates

  • Pakistan Page
  • Helmand
  • Kandahar
  • New Afghan Narcotics Glossary
  • Poppy Analysis
  • Baghlan Province (updated)
  • Samangan Province
  • mobiAFG Page (new)
  • Sar-i-Pol
  • Afghanistan Module (an introductory course)
  • New Tribal Maps
  • Balkh Province
  • Tribal Genealogies
  • Afghan OOB (A Primer) (new)

  • The Spring 2012 Issue of The Culture & Conflict Review now available!

    The Spring 2012 edition (Volume 6, Issue 1) of our web journal, The Culture & Conflict Review, is now posted online.

    • Please click here to read it!
    • To view our Winter 2011/2012 edition (Volume 5, Issue 4), please click here.
    • And to view our Fall 2011 edition (Volume 5, Issue 3), please click here.

    CCS Video & Audio Appearances

    CCS Analysis & Commentary

    CCS in the News

    Print & Electronic Articles

    Click for News Archive or CCS Publications and Research Archive.

    Broadcast News

    Contact CCS

    To contact CCS, please email: ccsinfo@nps.edu. If you would like to contact the CCS founder and director Thomas H. Johnson directly, please email: thjohnso@nps.edu.

    Material contained herein is made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.

    The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of the Navy and the Naval Postgraduate School of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein.