Cultural Property Protection (CPP) is a skill set that promotes greater operational awareness, strategic understanding and responsible management of the heritage landscape during military operations. As such, CPP serves as a force multiplier and an effective use of soft power that increases the likelihood of mission success.
CPP information and training helps ensure respect for the rules and regulations found in the The 1954 Hague Convention. The protection of historical, religious and cultural property and sites is also mandated by the laws of nearly every host nation in which DoD operates. Learning the basics of CPP also allows U.S. Forces to:
- avoid the damaging media attention that often results when archaeological, historical or religious sites or monuments are damaged during combat operations, bed-down procedures or post-conflict reconstruction;
- improve situational awareness to prevent adversaries from using our respect for Historical and Cultural Property to gain a momentary tactical advantage;
- foresee, and thereby take steps to prevent an adversary from damaging or destroying cherished monuments, cultural institutions, religious structures or symbols in order to demoralize the population or incite further conflict; if left unchecked, intentional cultural destruction by an opponent during combat or contingency operations can quickly lead to civil unrest, loss of trust in U.S. Forces and, in extreme cases, the temporary collapse of civilian order;
- demonstrate our respect for local populations and their institutions. Implementing CPP awareness programs, training and support across all DOD departments is more an expression of American values. CPP serves as an opportunity for DOD to demonstrate that it is the most prepared, professional and respectful military force in the world.
For these reasons, CPP must become part of the skill set of all Combatant Commands (COCOMs) and Joint Force (JF) Planners and Engineers.
To support this effort, the COCOM Cultural Heritage Action Group (CCHAG) collects planning information, develops training programs, and provides an array of services for COCOMs and JF Planners and Engineers that empower U.S. military personnel who operate overseas to respond appropriately when encountering heritage property such as places of worship, historic buildings, cultural institutions, archaeological sites, and landscape features of significant value to local populations.
A product of the DoD’s domestic heritage management program, the CCHAG applies the same conservation ethics and practices that have been so successful within the U.S. to global operations.
To efficiently deliver products and support services, the CCHAG combines its own heritage planning and training expertise with the capabilities of an Expert Network of subject matter experts (SME) located at U.S. installations and academic institutions around the world. These SME generate, manage and disseminate the required information and analysis.
During full spectrum operations, the only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change. No sensible decision can be made without understanding the world as it is, and the world as it will be. The only certainty is the need to adjust to new conditions and absorb lessons learned to successfully complete the mission. Cultural Property Protection plays a vital role in achieving that success.