The Army handbook sounds a lot like stuff you’d read in a freshman sensitivity course at a liberal arts college: “We, as adults, recognize the male pronoun as a generalization, but unless we stop using it, it is all the children will hear.” It highlights military-specific problematic behavior from white males: “Calling minorities and women by their first names while addressing majority members (males) by their titles or rank.” Under a very long section subtitled “Common Causes of Misunderstandings” is the “Continuing Use of ‘Hot Buttons.’” Here the Army asks leaders to—gasp—think about soldiers’ feelings…

The Army even asks leaders to care when soldiers are offended for no good reason, saying they should be careful with metaphors “even when the expressions originally had nothing to do with race, for example ‘blackballed,’ or ‘white lie,’ or ‘white wash.’” (It’s almost as if this passage was informed by Philip Roth’s The Human Stain.) 

While caring about “feelings” strikes some as frivolous in a university setting, it seems, the Army thinks it’s mission critical. Here’s another cool chart demonstrating just that, from a PowerPoint on cultural awareness from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. The thrust of it: Understanding cultural differences helps you win wars.