Friday, December 4, 2009

The Insurgent's Choice: Build, Hold, Clear

The Insurgent’s Choice: Build, Hold, Clear.

Rummy’s incantation was the other way around: Clear, Hold, Build. Unfortunately the implied sequence of clearing first is appropriate to your ranch in Crawford, or to Omaha Beach, but not when the terrain objective is people (hearts and minds).

The Five Logical Lines of Operation: Combat operations, security, economy, basic services and governance as presented in FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency, and related publications regarding Full Spectrum Operations suggest a parallel progression from left to right. Certain actions are presumed to precede others in each line. Perhaps it is time to look at Full Spectrum Operations from the other side.

The Insurgent’s game plan starts with building an infrastructure that provide a modicum of basic services (clinics, schools, etc) with a form of governance which gives the people offers they cannot refuse. The comprehensive use of assassination and torture dissuades collaboration with the opposition. Once ensconced, there exists a network of spies, counter-spies (theirs), and a critical mass of activists.

The more comprehensive the process of building the revolutionary base, the less safe it is for the counterinsurgent to move with impunity about town. This equates to holding a piece of terrain by increasing the pucker factor. Eventually, the counterinsurgent is cleared from an area leaving the insurgent in de facto control and unhindered in consolidating power into the hands of those who held the strings.

The sequence of build, hold, and clear is the same sequence as found in “protracted, peoples, revolutionary war (論持久戰), as described by Mao Zedong and Vo Nguyen Giap and continually adapted to insurgencies up to today by such as Shining Path in Peru, Maoists in Nepal, as in the Dirty War in Argentina and the IRA off and on since Cromwell.

The essential difference between the two approaches is building a system that provides basic services and governance, plus maybe economics sub rosa, or hidden in plain sight. At the end of the process, the counterinsurgent is building something without a base of support of the locals, unless an effort was made to build a foundation in step one.

Sound familiar?

The type of force needed to build clandestine institutions within the people (the local inhabitants) doesn’t exist in the expeditionary, modular, transformational force structure. The components needed to set up a counterinsurgency insurgency force. Civil Affairs, PSYOP, Special Forces, Intelligence, Special Ops, Human Terrain Teams, and Counter-intelligence assets backed by precision munitions on call, and a supply network operating at a distance from the target area. This would include a clandestine capability comparable to the PRT’s (Provincial Reconstruction Teams).

The tactics, techniques, and procedures for such a force are likely already written down, and well understood by the Special Operations community. The SF concept of building clandestine combat forces indigenously goes to the beginning of SF for use in the Soviet rear areas.

No counter insurgency war in the past succeeded without a substantial indigenous combat force. The usual gig was to hire the best fighters an enemy had, and add a few qualified officers and noncoms. Such was the Indian Army of the British Raj, the French led Spahis of Africa, and the Askaris led by German Lt Col, Lettow-Vorbeck in German East Africa.

The principal obstacle to some really sneaky war is from the un-sneaky narcissistic rotational modular expeditionary establishment. The burning question would be how to credit command and staff time in such a force. Should it hold a higher status than commanding Regular units, or training units, or Reserve units?

The odds of build, hold, and clear succeeding has been more successful than naught.

OBTW: The difference between and Insurgency and a Counterinsurgency is the latter has air superiority.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Face, Fate, Fame. Fortune and the Japanese

Cultural misunderstandings between the Japanese and us led to a war in which Japan was flattened and eventually nuked. They clearly misunderstood us. Yet, within ten years, Japan was on it’s way to the short list of major economic powers of the world, sans sword. Working with the Japanese is a challenge one in which the aversion of the Japanese to confrontation is often mistaken for acquiescence. Japan is much more of an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in another enigma than is Russia.

Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guys Culture aka “F4F+4” is a warrior’s tool consisting of nine variables in two groups: one related to human relations, and the other of temporal relations:

F4F (Face, Fate,Fame,Fortune). 表面、運命、名声および幸運. Basic cultural competence for Warrior and Statesman is focused on the values, behavior, beliefs and norms (VBBN) related to decision making. It goes hand in hand with the factors of METT-TC of which three relate to people: enemy, forces available and civilians. It does not supplant anthropology, but rather depends on it such as terrain and weather analysis bound in COCOA (Critical Terrain, Observation, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles and Avenues of Approach) does not replace density altitude or vehicle cone indices.

It means the ability to determine what ticks them off, and what turns them on (Face issues). To what or whom they consider the consequences or underlying authority (Fate issues) and what gives them recognition and power within their community (Fame), and to what or to who controls the purse strings (Fortune).

In addition, how does geography affect them and what is their impact of geography? And what is their sense of time, and sense of distance, and how do they use their body in addition to body language. That is Time, Distance, Ground and Body.( 時間、間隔、地面, 体)

Geography and History. The key to understanding the Japanese is the impact of a land which is more vertical than horizontal. Not only is Japan an island nation, the islands are full of mountains comprising three quarters of the land, leaving very little in the way of arable land in between.

The Mountain Folk, the Bushi. The fight for and the control of the bits and pieces of flat land is a central facet of Japanese culture. While Japan was, in theory, an empire with an emperor at the top, the real power was held by competing factions of warlords, called Daimyo (big name) whose elite Samurai soldiers did the fighting.

While Samurai were considered nobles, a common person could work his way up through the ranks to the very top. That coupled with strategic marriage and adoption could create or maintain high social and political standing. The last of this kind was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who started out as a sandal carrier for a samurai lord who prohibited private ownership of arms in 1588. .

The introduction of guns into Japan in 1542 had the same military and political effects experienced in Europe at the same time. . The castle and mounted charge faded in importance resulting in tipping the balance of power to the national authority. Like in Russia and France of the time, the nobles were required to spend all or part of their time in the national capitol under the eyes of the national authority. Edo had the same significance as did St Petersburg and Versailles.

“Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康?, January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but remained in power until his death in 1616.” Wikipedia

Tokugawa ended vertical mobility and froze the ranks in place with detailed instructions with penalties for violations. He issued an edict expelling Christians and the sealing of Japan from outside influence tightened the controls the Samurai had.

But since the peasantry had been disarmed and foreign adventures prohibited, the Samurai did have much to do except eat and train for duels, or beat up on the peasantry. It was customary for a village to suffer the consequences of the actions of an individual. Collective responsibility, therefore, is at the core of the Japanese social culture. This included punishment for missteps by the Samurai in the presence of superiors in which a Samurai would be ordered to commit suicide, also called Hara Kiri (belly cut) or Seppuku.

(和) Harmony through Regulations, Conformity, Ways, and Kata: Mountain people are renowned for being contentious and Japanese history is full of contention, rivalry and duplicity between those who controlled the valleys. The antidote for contention is regulation, and Japanese culture is famous for regulation. There is a “way” to do things just right. Battle drill is regulation, and Japanese martial arts have specific ways to move, strike, and evade which in English are called “forms” or the Japanese word “kata”. The ultimate result and the highest virtue in Japan is harmony between mind, body, and one’s opponent.

The Prime Directive – Harmony (和)

The Sino-Japanese Character for harmony is和 and is pronounced “wa” when used with other characters, and when alone is pronounced “Yamato” which is also the older name for Japan, and of the second of two super battleships in WW 2. Harmony doesn’t mean peace, except as the quiet mind necessary to fight efficiently.

The tea ceremony is a coffee break that takes hours of precise movements. A tea master illustrates precision and timing in the same way a Black Belt in Karate does in the specified kata for his or her style.

As a matter of necessary regulation of the peasantry upon whose rice planting was the principal source of wealth for the aristocracy, collective responsibility for the misdeeds or deeds of the village and family was the order of the day. If one family member offended a samurai of standing, the whole family or village could be punished as in put to death. This collective responsibility had an effect still very much in evidence today.

No one does anything until everyone has agreed to it. In business this is called “nemawashi” in which proposals are passed through all affected departments until unanimity is reached. This takes a long time, and multiple iterations are necessary. This was frustrating to the US State, Navy and War Departments in 1941. This round of question asking and repeated deliberations were taken by us as stalling.

Once reached, the Japanese move like lightning and in concert. There are no foot draggers in the group. The Pentagon likely picked this up from Japan during the Occupation as “Staff Coordination” is defined as running the decision papers around until everyone has put his or her “chop” on it. A chop in Japan and China is a personal seal used to stamp official and binding documents in civil life.

Unlike other countries, the concept of collective decision making and collective responsibility of family and village was effectively transferred to the public and economic sectors. During industrialization, the youth of an entire rural area would be brought to the industrial centers and put in company housing and cared for by the company staff. This effectively transferred much of what is normally considered family values to the companies.

In terms of the Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture, Face and Fate issues are tied to the collective, to the primary group based on the company. If an employee goofs up, he has let his company down and is required to apologize. Harakiri (Seppuku) suicide has become symbolic. For the pride of the Nation, the apology is considered the ultimate sacrifice, is intended to end further humiliation or harassment of the group.

Fame. Given collective values and the restrictions that “the way” of doing things, heroes are admired, but it is a tragic affair as the Japanese say “That nail that stands out, must be hammered flat”. The happy ending isn’t always at the end of Japanese movies, sometimes it’s an unhappy or tragic ending”. The movie “Ran” by Akira Kurusawa ends with everyone dead or nuts. Fame is considered double edged.

Fortune: Making a fortune is an acceptable course of action. Flaunting it, however, has it limits. Given the lack of flat land to build on, the land one builds on is expensive. This has restricted modern residential construction to the very small, so small that is not for show and tell. That’s what restaurants are for. Japanese have to be told that inviting them to an American’s home is not because they can’t afford a restaurant.

Given collective responsibility for the actions of one on all, the Japanese divide their actions into two worlds, one they show to the outer world which is regulated by the proper “form” or “way” of doing things and that which will not detract from the prmary group. The other is what is allowed within the primary group, and is unstructured and free. The first is called “tatamae” and the inside view is “honne”. In the first years of Japanese commercial expansion after WW2, Japanese men behaved like GI’s on leave, horny and foul mouthed. This got some bad press, and the behavior was modified.

“The Devil’s Language” St Francis Xavier.:

More than any other custom, the Japanese language was designed not to offend the Samurai with an itchy sword hand and the right to use it. The language was developed to avoid offending the offensive. The art of avoiding conflict within is the central value of the Japanese, and to a large extent other Far Eastern nations. As noted before, the character for Harmony pronounced “Wa” and permeates all manner of social interaction. Personal Fame is admired from afar, but is something the Japanese find uncomfortable in themselves. The have learned the hard way that Fame is followed by a Fate involving daggers in amongst the kudos.

The Japanese martial arts of Aikido and Judo are based on using the opponents energy against them, and the martial art of Iaido (居合道?) is based on defeating an attack at the dinner table. A form of quick draw with razor sharp swords.

The Japanese language uses indirect ways of saying things, instead of the Western way of short sharp declarative statements. Brevity is abusive, and when the Japanese use brevity, they are on the edge of battle. What can be said in one page is better said in three or four.

Likewise the vocabulary of the most common verbs changes according to the social status of who is being spoken to. There are six different vocabularies, three most popular, for the most common verbs such as to be, to go, to come, and to do. The three most popular levels of politeness include abrupt, polite, and honorific. All design to avoid disturbing harmony and to avoid offending.

Likewise, the language favors a complex way to say simple things leaving the verb at the end of the sentence to allow for wiggle room And is more passive than active. American business to taught to make it brief, no more than a page and a half. For Japanese to sent such a short letter is insulting.

Japanese belief systems are not hide bound to follow the dictates of any one religion or philosophy. In part, this is an Oriental concept of yin and yang each of which cannot exist without a bit of the other. Japanese families follow Shinto customs when young, Christian weddings and Christmas, and Buddhist funerals.

Cartesian logic is fine for chemistry or mathematics, but not for life. Arguing is disharmony. In a business meeting, they will no more about your enterprise than you do.

Temporal Relations

Distance間隔: Interpersonal distance depends on whether one is on a train or bus or is in open terrain. In open terrain, interpersonal distances are like Americans. On a train, one is a standing sardine. The Japanese queue up at bus and train stops like in England, sometimes in the US, and never in Holland.

Time. .( 時間) As it might be expected, Japanese reverence for time as a resource and a standard that prescribes correct behavior. Being late is a serious offense, while timeliness is a virtue. 0900 is the most common starting time for work in Tokyo. Ten minutes before nine is a mad rush, ten minutes after is virtually empty.

The Ground (地面)The effect of limited land not only underlies the Japanese character, it has in modern times altered the use of floor space, from spacious to cramped. It is not unusual for an entire family to live in one room, in which the bed is folded away, and the all purpose table takes the space. Japanese are astounded at the huge houses we have, that we consider average.

The Body: (体) Japanese body language and the use of the body in social circumstances are prescribed in precise manner such as in how deep one bows to another depending on status. Removing the shoes is required in a Japanese home and many traditional restaurants. Hiding the emotions is a universal defense mechanism.

The concept of Harmony extends to the Japanese sense of beauty in the arts, and in ordinary crafts. The Japanese spend a lot of effort and creativity in the wrapping of a gift, and the wrapping says as much or more than the gift itself. Their sense of living space, before population explosions made space a premium that impressed Frank Lloyd Wright, and the GI’s who were stationed with the Occupation Forces in Japan. They brought back a sense of more open interior space and more opened to the outside. This style, for some odd reason, became known as a “ranch” style.

Japanese views on sex are not matters of shame and guilt as they are in the US. Prostitution in Japan is in accordance with specific forms, also very much like the moves in a martial art. Posted prominently in public places are advertisements which delineate the hourly rate and the particular set and sequence of sex acts. Most Americans see this as perversity personified.

Some Comparisons between Americans and the Japanese

The Japanese consider American insistence on individual achievement at the expense of family or corporate welfare as barbaric, as to most other cultures that place family values over individual success. We see family values and individual responsibility as co-existing, while most of the world sees them as a range of choices.

Most Americans see the Japanese as up tight and polite, which invites a corresponding assessment of us a loud and abrasive. Their excuse is that we are powerful and dangerous barbarians. Barbarians that can’t speak Japanese or use pork chops (hashi).

The prime determinant in a culture is often Fate, that which we are answerable to and that which represents consequence. In the United States, it is individual responsibility and freedom. If Fate pulls the rug out from under, it is an individual’s problem. In Japan it is collective responsibility and consequence. If Fate pulls the rug out from under, it is a collective responsibility to inspect, repair, or replace as necessary.

Both the Japanese and Americans compartmentalize friendships, but the Japanese have one they can fall back on, while in American that can fall on them.

One thing for sure, the Japanese never let the rain on their parade slow them down:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"America's Ways" and the Other Guy's Culture

“American Ways” and the Other Guy’s Culture

“American Ways, A Guide for Foreigners in the United States”, 2nd Edition, by Gary Althen is a serious book for serious Americans seeking Cultural Competence in cross cultural relations, including combat. Gary Althen served for thirty years as a foreign student advisor at the University of Iowa. It is a “must read” for Warriors.

Althen’s insights are written for foreign students to understand why we do many things that make no sense or bad sense. Of greater importance, his book helps Americans to understand their own ways that we take for granted, that others don’t. We are too close to the trees to see the forest.

Americans are proud to point out their own sense of individual independence, self reliance, and individual freedoms. This central individualistic theme goes much deeper that we ourselves realize. We tend to judge not only ourselves but foreigners whose culture stresses family or kin groups over the individual.

What we call nepotism is an obligation in many other cultures. We expect that the person with the job title got there as a result of some modicum of achievement, when it is more likely it was because of family ties.

We stress time and accomplishment more than harmony, while in the Far East, harmony outranks just about everything else and time matters only every once in a while.

We have established standards, and bench marks for out progress in the Muddle East which makes sense to Americans. We expect the Middle Easterner to learn how to take responsibility for their own development and achievement, when these concepts are incomprehensible to many in that torn up part of the world.

The character “Otto” played by Kevin Klein in the 1988 movie, “A Fish Called Wanda” was portrayed as obsessed with sniffing his own armpit, much to the amusement of Brits, but incomprehensible to Americans. The Arm Pit Sniff is the Body Oder check that American males use to shower or spray, as indicated. The Brits think we are getting off on BO.

Exporting the “Melting Pot” to Afghanistan winds up giving basic combat training to the Taliban. We hear more and more of hostiles in NATO style camouflage uniforms and carrying their AK47’s slung across the chest. Trying to build a multi-ethnic Afghan National Army trains the ethnics more than the Army.

Americans value privacy more than most to the point where friendships are compartmentalized based on context. We have neighbors, fellow employees, people we work out with, and people we go to church with, none of whom knows each other outside the compartment. Americans have fewer friends that can be depended on regardless of circumstance compared to other cultures. Foreigners mistake our outward friendly manner as indicative of a friend who will lend money or help get into the US.

The biggest disconnects are individual responsibility and the concept that time is valuable and not to be wasted. More foreigners place family over individual, and time may or may not be relevant. We judge those reactions as nepotism, corruption, irresponsibility, and laziness.

We bomb many whose intentions were misread. Mullah Omar was willing to work out a deal with us and the Iranians before the boot hit the ground. Rumsfeld blew that off, and after the Iranians had worked with us, they were put on the Axis of Evil. We promised the Iraqi Army jobs after the war, and Bremer fired them, and all the school teachers in “de-Ba’athification” When young alert and alive field grade officers suggested arming and paying certain tribes, Bremer’s retorted that tribes are the past, not the new Iraq. The officers making the suggestion got involuntary early retirement.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cultural Taxonomy and the Warrior

Cultural Taxonomy, and the Warrior’s View

Assessing the willpower of all the players to adopt courses of action is the first an most important assessment going into the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP). It is axiomatic that the will to resist is the keystone of resistance, yet the step is routinely ignored by the military, diplomatic, and political establishments of many a nation which has resulted too often in defeat, dishonor, or serious embarrassment.

The Japanese believed that wiping out the US Pacific Fleet would bring us to the bargaining table. It worked, except that the bargaining table was on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Allied strategic bombing of the homes of German “war workers” was predicated on the assumption that the German people would boot Hitler. What the bombing did was to divert German fighter aircraft from strafing and bombing Allied troops and logistics, to defending the skies over the Fatherland.

The addition of Stability Operations on the same plane as Offense and Defense in Army doctrine, places a much better understanding of how culture affects military courses of action, and of the will of the peoples involved to fight us, fight our enemies, or wait and see who wins. Pre-existing doctrine in Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs works to dig up the necessary information on which the assessment of indigenous courses of action.

Civil Affairs provides the acronym ASCOPE to represent Areas, Structures, Capabilities, People and Events. It’s a list that works with CA people as they have to study it. And it is to Civil Affairs people we should turn to for this information. The problem with ASCOPE is that it has six letters, all different, which exceeds the ram space required to remember it.

Psychological Operations has a doctrine and a very good annex for determine who to talk to and what to say. PSYOPS, is rarely consulted as there are too many budding advertising people in it, and thinkers are not appreciated in those whose forte is muscle bound. If any one had read the PSYOP Estimate of the Situations prepared for the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the current unpleasantness would be already a memory.

Current doctrine recently released on cultural awareness includes an excellent source of definitions, and guidance to gather what is needed to apply F4F to winnow out and focus on likely courses of action. F4F recognizes that all human collective activity is based all or in part on dynamics of family. Family includes traditional families connected by blood line (DNA), it include the Brotherhood, the Benevolent and Protective Brotherhood of Plumbers, or Longshoremen, Truck drivers, or Al Qaeda.

F4F is a more easily remembered acronym with only two letters to remember, and five labels all starting with F. Family: Face, Fate, Fame, Fortune. In addition to F4F which is focused on dynamics of the family, the addition of a set of factors expressed in physical terms such as Time, Distance, Geography and Body language. These work together and are entwined more than separated.

Current Warrior doctrine on Stability Operations, even when combined with traditional offense and defense, is expressed in Five Logical Lines of Operation (LLO, or LLOO):
These “lines” are a series of steps or strategy to address a problem that adversely affects the stability of a region or populations. These include:

1. Security Operations: Population secured continuously with freedom of lawful movement established.
2. Host Nations Security Forces: Effective and self sufficient security forces are established.
3. Essential Services: Sewage treatment, potable water, electricity, transportation, schools and medical services are developed, restored, and refurbished.
4. Effective Governance: Local, regional, and national agencies, policies, enforcement and justice are established, restored, and/or improved.
5. Economic Development: A functional economy is re-established, and the freedom to conduct lawful commerce restored including commercial, industrial, and other economic institutions and an effective market.

A more detailed representation is provided by doctrine showing a typical sequencing of actions in a counter insurgency environment. While this doctrine was developed for counter insurgency use, it is not restricted nor primarily linked to counter insurgency. There “Whole of Government Approach” to diplomacy as well as military operations is hard wired to the wholistic intent of the Logical Lines of Operation. As such, it applies to our relations in troubled areas even without an active insurgency such as most of Latin America and Africa/

F4F aka “Indigenous Family Values” are intended for the Warrior to ask the Local, or the Egghead, questions that will effect his/her operations on these Logical Lines of Operation. Face questions should include: What really ticks these people off? What turns them on?

Answers might include: Don’t stare at a Turkish or Japanese woman! Or the correct bow or flourish may do wonders.

Face questions might include: To what or who do they believe controls their fate? Answers may be: the law, the family, the party, or none of the above.

Fame questions: What do they do to gain fame or recognition? Or not? Answers may include sitting in front, or coming in last, or first. Does family outrank accomplishment?

Fortune: What do these guys do for a living? Who gets the loot?

The questions on physical matters include their sense of time. Are they big on being on time, or does it matter, Is one day the same as the last, or is it subject to improvement? How close to each other is close? Arms length as with Americans, or nose to nose as in a Japanese subway?

What do they do to the land? Rice paddies, dykes, or irrigation ditches? What about the location and construction of buildings? Dense like the old parts of a Middle Eastern City or of China? Or spread out like US suburbs.

With respect to Arm and Hand Signals, or body language: How do they walk, sit, stand, and use their parts to signal submission, dominance, or just at ease?

The Warriors Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture is not intended to replace existing doctrine, but to sharpen the focus on that which really matters. It is a guide to asking the right questions, not a guide to revamp the sciences of sociology, anthropology, or psychology.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Full Spectrum Drama



While I have extensive and long standing personal experiences with foreign cultures, including that of California, Texas, Western Europe, China, and Japan, these experiences only provided a setting and materials for the analysis of the problems of a Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture. That which I use to bind military doctrine, psychology, anthropology and sociology include Transactional Analysis designed by Eric Berne particularly Karpman’s Drama Triangle, Cross Cultural Communications by Beyond, the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) from the US Army, and the current manuals on Full Spectrum Operations.


The thrust of the works on Transactional Analysis(TA) and the Drama Triangle are focused on the individual and small groups. In TA each individual operates at any one point from one of three major ego states, Parent (Mother and/or Father), Adult (pure reason and facts), and the Child.

A normal (plus and minus one standard deviation from the mean) individual and small group functions with the Parental Father role as externally oriented to protect and provide for the family, the Parental Mother role is more internally oriented on nurturing the family and the child. The Child’s role is that of obedience to the parents, and the parents corresponding role of tutoring and nurturing the child. In a healthy group, reason and facts are routinely utilized,


One drama enters the scene, these relations turn from survival to game playing. Game playing in TA relies on crossed transactions between the child’s version of mother, father and adult in which the reasoning “adult” become a hand puppet for the dramatic roles, and the expressions of parenting or childhood, masks for a bent personality.

The Drama Triangle posits three Roles: Victim, Prosecutor and Rescuer. In order to play the game, there must be Villains and Heroes. Villains who threaten the Victims, who in turn must be rescued, and the villain prosecuted by heroes.

Thus, the Child’s version of the three roles have two sides, Villainous and Heroic. The Heroic includes the Hero, Heroine, and Helpless. The Villainous counterpart includes the Bastard, Bitch, and Brat.

The more serious the game, the higher the likelihood is that both are played by the same player. It is called the Law of Inverse Attribution. The more the player becomes heroic, the more likely he or she is really a villain. This is portrayed in your daily in-box of your email account.

Being a Hero depends on creating an all powerful Villain. At present, Godless Communism is being replaced by Islam. Sample sites:

The Party Faithful, however grey haired, is still around. Same sort of victim, rescuer, and prosecutors. The Global Ant-Globalization “Front” carries forward Communist claptrap undeterred by the failure of Communism and the conversion of the Communist State into a Capitalist state like that of China.

Their Victims include indigenous people not able or willing to cope with the world that is, and the Earth which can’t take care of itself. Eco Terrorists wage war against real estate developers, whalers, and the non-Russian oil interests to rescue helpless nature (whose voice on these matters in conveniently shut. Seen from the viewpoint of Western (US) oil interests, Japanese whalers, and home buyers, these self same Eco Terrorists should be locked away from any sharp instruments.

I hate to rain on so many parades, as it is so much fun to snort and stomp over the villainous and it is so cathartic to play out the violent side of it.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Doctrine And Culture

Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture –
Doctrine and Culture

The Commander’s business is mission accomplishment and the welfare of the troops, formerly stated as the Mission and the Men. In mission accomplishment we use the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) which applies the factors of METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops Available, Time, and Civilian Considerations. Of these six factors, three deal with people: the enemy, troops, and civilians taken together or separately, each has culture which, for the Warrior, acts the same as doctrine in deciding what factors rank where in their cultural decision making process.

While anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, and art critics have their definitions of culture, the Warrior needs to stick to the concept of culture as doctrine, a set of rules, best practices, historical influences, sex, love, greed, and/or children. Like the military commander, the heads of family has the same two parental responsibilities (mission and welfare) found in the family, however defined. The children, troops,, of a family bear the same relations as troops in a unit: obedience to the (parental leader) and the corresponding expectation that that authority protects and nourishes the troops/children.

Thus family, when not even a biological entity, is the basis for any human organization however formalized. There are Brotherhoods of Boiler Workers, Social Clubs like the Tongs or Triads, the Viet Cong, the Skull and Cross Bones, and Sigma Phi Epsilon. Any group tends to adopt family like structures,

To deal with analyzing family, we use existing doctrine on occasion, like applying the Civil Affairs factors known as ASCOPE from FM 3-07

2-27. This characteristic addresses terrain analysis from a civilian perspective. Analyze how key civilian areas affect the missions of respective forces and how military operations affect these areas. Factors to consider include political boundaries, locations of government centers, by-type enclaves, special regions (for example, mining or agricultural), trade routes, and possible settlement sites.
2-28. Structures include traditional high-payoff targets, protected cultural sites, and facilities with practical applications. The analysis is a comparison how a structure's location, functions, and capabilities can support operations as compared to costs and consequences of such use.
2-29. Assess capabilities in terms of those required to save, sustain, or enhance life, in that order. Capabilities can refer to the ability of local authorities to provide key functions and services. These can include areas needed after combat operations and contracted resources and services.
2-30. Consider all nonmilitary groups or institutions in the AO. These may be indigenous, come from a third country or US agencies. They influence and interact with the populace, force, and each other. Current activities, capabilities, and limitations are some of the information necessary to build situational understanding. This becomes often a union of resources and specialized capabilities.
2-31. People is a general term describing all nonmilitary personnel that military forces encounter in the AO. This includes those personnel outside the AO whose actions, opinions, or political influence can affect the mission. Identify the key communicators and the formal and informal processes used to influence people. In addition, consider how historical, cultural, and social factors that shape public perceptions beliefs, goals, and expectations.
2-32. Events are routine, cyclical, planned, or spontaneous activities that significantly affect organizations, people, and military operations, such as seasons, festivals, holidays, funerals, political rallies, and agricultural crop/livestock and market cycles and paydays. Other events, such as disasters and those precipitated by military forces, stress and affect the attitudes and activities of the populace and include a moral responsibility to protect displaced civilians. Template events and analyze them for their political, economic, psychological, environmental, and legal implications

Examination of ASCOPE for the Commander is largely dependent on Civil Affairs, PSYOP, and for the present, the Human Terrain Teams made up of sociologists and anthropologists. These, however, don’t tell you what will effect the decision making of the culture, be they Templar Knight, Apaches, Romans, Taliban, or the villagers of Khost.

There are represented in the Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guys Culture as F4F (Fate, Face, Fame, and Fortune) like the Navy Fighter of WW 2, and the interface with temporal issues like time, place, and geography. ASCOPE is the where to look, F4F is what to look for in ASCPE/

The First F in F4F is family with the basics of who is in the family and who is not. It includes where this family sits with others. Is there a hierarchy like Spartans and Helots, or the Crips and Bloods, or the Normans and the Saxons? What are the normal parental roles represented by the Paternal which is concerned with external factors and the preparation of the family to face the outside world? What is the Maternal role which is internally oriented to nurture the children, like the First Sergeant concerned with the welfare of the troops? The parental roles can be cast in multiple generations, in multiple spin-offs of the basic structure like public schools are to the parents.

Family - Face, Fate, Fame, and Fortune

The Warrior is concerned with the structure of the family in terms of paternal (exterior), maternal (interior), and progeny (obey and grow). Under this framework the four value systems of Face, Fate, Fame and Fortune shape the behaviors of the family and of its parts.

FACE is honor, shame, duty, as seen by the holder of the expected view of self from the outside. Face is often a mask, sometime deeply felt, sometimes tossed at the first sound of trouble. Face issues in war, where the commander makes a foolish decision solely to maintain the illusion of control. Issues of motherhood, and the sanctity of their women as well as sex issues fall under Face.

The Taliban destroys girl’s schools, to protect the virtue of women. Gays get executed. The portrayal of rape, pillage, and/or plunder on the part of an invading enemy is a Face issue and is timeless. Likewise the use of rape to humiliate an enemy culture is found in current conflicts in Africa and the Balkans.

Face slapping is a military objective. Japan intended to destroy the Pacific Fleet on Dec 7 , 1941. The damage wasn’t as great as planned but the effect was that of an Asian slapping the face of a Caucasian, utterly sneaky, and the outrage thereafter lingers on today. FDR authorized the Doolittle Raid which was intended as a slap in the face which worked to the point in brining the Japanese Fleet out to it’s destruction at Midway.

FATE is consequence, Fate is authority, Fate is what is really in charge. Americans place a great deal of trust in self and the law. In other cultures fate is controlled by the family, the party, the Fuhrer, the Law of Gravity, or a responsive Will of God.

While Americans see their fate tied to hard work, diligence, and confidence in facing what comes, other cultures place their faith in family, tribe, Communist Party, or feudal lord. Those who come from a culture where family determines fate more than the actions of the self, don’t react to working hard for a wage. Many call this laziness, but it is due to a lack of connection of self and salary and a dependence on the family to care. Workers in the former Communist states have no faith in work for wages, as in the Communist system the state pretended to pay them, so they pretended to work. There is still a sentiment in those states where working hard is irrelevant to survival.

FORTUNE is in many cultures Godlike in status, and in others not. The Rich are routinely lambasted in political and religious treatise. And the poor elevated in status. That of course is Inverse Attribution, only the rich have the means to be charitable. And Charity is just another form of domination, or one ups man ship.

Most important in cultural analysis is the relation of people to the product and process. Farmers are different from miners, and cattlemen different from truckers. The relation of the work process and the values systems of people is a way to see how they tick. Sometimes, civilian skills have a military application, like cattle herdsmen turned to cavalry.

FAME is the expected external view of self, which if denied is a serious Face problem. Fame is reward, recognition. It’s awards and decorations and the adulation expected thereto. Fame is expected due to the shapely and the sharp. Yet Fame, like Fortune, resented.

Taken together, the array of Face, Fame, Fate, and Fortune of a given culture is the “terrain” that war is fought on no less than Critical Terrain, Observation, Obstacles, Cover and Concealment, and Avenues of Approach.

The Paraguayans in the War of the Triple Alliance in 1864 to 1870 fought Argentina, Brazil, and Chile resulting in the loss of three quarters of their population due to their savage but outnumbered resistance. No capture the flag or cutting off the snakes head here. The Bolivians in the 1930’s tried to cut their way across Paraguay to gain access to a port. They lost despite having a better trained and equipped. Paraguayans are inordinately proud of their country, yet will wait until your back is turned to strike back. The detest condescension and welcome compliments about their women.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cultural Sensivity Isn't About Being Nice

There is a deep cultural aversion to cultural sensitivity amongst military practitioners and pretenders who think that killing or capturing the enemy, occupying the high ground, and rearranging the furniture is the sum total of the profession at arms. These cries and belches have diminished somewhat in view of the apparent success of the new counter-insurgency doctrine in Iraq. Will the new namby-pamby cultural sensitivity doctrine work against the Taliban?

Well, maybe. It depends on whether the pressure is against the sensitive parts of the Taliban sensibilities. And that’s why being culturally sensitive doesn’t mean being namby-pamby socialist liberal wishwashery. Take “Black Jack” Pershing in the Philippines for example..

There is an urban legend about Pershing that attributes a world wide halt in Muslim terrorism after he had executed some Muslims and buried them with pig parts. While even if the legend is false, it is nevertheless a good example of cultural sensitivity. Pershing was very keen on culture. There were a lot of old fashioned massacres in that campaign. A widely quoted slogan was “civilize them with a Krag”, a Norwegian rifle used by US troops.

Another example of Pershing’s sensitivity takes place in Mindanao, then as now, has been plagued with Muslim “Moro” rebellions. Moro ferocity in battle, aided with tight body bindings to stem bleeding and a toke of smoke, was such that the Luger 9mm pistol then being considered as Army standard, was rejected in favor of the .45 caliber pistol. The 38 caliber or 9mm pistol wouldn’t stop a charging Moro with a really big sword in hand. The 45 dropped them, then as now.

Pershing would supplement fire and maneuver with chess. He would enter a village, proceed to the center, set up a chess table, sit down and wait. He knew that the chiefs of the Moros, called Datos, loved chess. Sooner or later, someone would show up, sit down and play chess. During this exchange, Pershing would negotiate acceptable terms with the Dato, terms which were conducted in accordance with Moro sensibilities.

Pershing was called “Black Jack” as his early career was in commanding segregated black troops, including the 10th Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers at San Juan and Kettle Hill. This early experience in commanding black troops was clearly an opportunity to learn how to get the most out of a vastly different culture.

It isn’t about being nice. It’s about being effective.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fame and Blame are the Names of the Game.

“Street Creds”, awards and decoration, the golden resume, net value, trophy spouse, exalted position, all are symbols of fame. Symbols of success to attract attention, for good or bad, to add to the cut and thrust of survival of kith and kin.. And symbols of blame, of infamy, to divert, and displace anger, or expiate fault.

Fame for challenges overcome, enemies defeated, and feats of daring-do are the great social motivators to get things that need to be done in order for a society to survive, thrive and grow. History all too often turns on the acts of one person, just as often unaware of the consequences, only of the challenge or of the dangers. Horatio at the bridge held off Rome’s enemies, when running away would have been the safer play.

Society needs to know who can be counted on to stand in front, and expects that heroes from playing fields are those who can be trusted when the time in near when danger this way comes. And, it is not as odd a choice as it might be, for many who excel in games, excel on the battlefield. Jimmie Doolittle raced air planes, and led thousands in battle after his courageous attack named after him. He also was an aeronautical engineer.

Seeking out fame is a dangerous game, for some think it is a zero sum game, those whose excuses for existence themselves somewhat lame. For many, the reflected glow of a true hero acts as the light around which cowards and jackals tend to gather. Or, from the envious, arrows, come out from the dark and collect on the backs of the brave and creative.

Fame is also a warning, a cry for help, be it from a calf or colt in danger, or a toddler with a diaper full. At its roots, fame is a survival and enhancement tool without which life withers and falls. If help doesn’t come, generations and whole nations wind up with the toddler’s dump, over and over again. Sometimes it is a shitty world.

Hitler, Stalin, Shaka Zulu, Mao, MacArthur, Richard the Lion Hearted and Winston Churchill had abusive fathers and indulgent mothers. The dysfunctional family created highly motivated leaders, some good, some bad, depending on where one was when the fit hit the shan.

The Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture is the decoder that unravels who is dumping on who and why and for what. Cultural Centers of gravity are revealed, and depending on mission, can be turned on it’s head, or sent on it’s way. Do we want to cause them to get together to work better or to make them a better target? Do we want them to break it up, to weaken their will, or to strengthen their capacity?

Psychological Operation isn’t all about subornation and subversion, and surrendering of those who switch sides. It can be elevating their worst to the top of the pile. This was done in WW 2 by the British in fake radio broadcasts of a super hard line German officer criticizing the Nazi best and best practices, and lauding their worst. Many a fine field officer was sent to the desk pile, and idiots sent to command.

So much of the Fame Game is tied to, the rotation of the Heroic roles (Hero, Heroine, and Helpless) with the Villainous roles (Bastard, Bitch, and Brat) to produce an outcome, a result, or a payoff, such as a title and a feifdom. The Fame Game is rarely static, as hero becomes villain, and villain plays hero, with each flip flop gets something.

The Blame Game is the flip side of the Fame Game. The Heroic is the flip side of the Villainous. Both sound the same, speaking of rescue, rehabilitation, and revenge. It is easier to spot the game being played by the payoff, outcome or result in terms of warm fuzzy feelings or of cold prickly, of raging anger, or pompous posturing, as these outcomes are more the motive than any ideological one uppance.

The End State is the emotional buzz, the feelings, more than physical or ideological. These end states, sometime called payoffs, can be described a stamp collecting. Some collect anger stamps, some collect tragedy stamps, some collect failures, and as in trading stamp collecting, they can be turned for a big prize: a free murder, a free burglary, or, in some cases, finally getting around to do what needs to be done. In political lore, the propagandist stacks real or imagined injuries and insults to justify a free revolution, a free lynching, or stopping the barbarians at the gate. Sometimes it is hard to tell the good from the bad, right from wrong.

Such is the case of the current Jihadi terrorist. In the original sense, those who wage Jihad are doing what it takes to defeat the evil in and around us. At the hands of the devious, the Jihadi warrior serves evil, deemed justifiable by the unjustifiable. And that is the Warrior’s job when analyzing a culture, to pull apart the virtuous from the villainous.

The Seven Deadly Sins, and their opposite number, are found as the true motivators in disorder, chaos, and repression. The Seven Virtues are the alleged opposite, but these to excess are often better seen in their sinful array.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fortune: Thy Daily Bread

The usual briefing one gets on the area of operations to be usually includes some percentages of this kind of economic activity or how much it’s worth. When it comes to determining how a people fight, what their priorities are, and their capacity, that sort of numerology isn’t worth dick,

A better question is “how do they get their daily bread”, bread also meaning dough. If we are talking about loggers from Washington state or copper miners from Arizona, or fishermen from Alaska, we are talking about some tough people who don’t take to fancy airs, or PowerPoint. It doesn’t matter whether it is logs, rocks, or fish. A man’s Face is in his fists. Yours too, if he thinks you are looking down, when you should be looking up.

Refugees from the Rust Belt sound like their counterparts in China, or India where the search for cheaper labor keeps moving along. Thiers is a sense of outrage, outrage which is political gasoline for political machines. Displaced farmers crowd into cities where exploitation is better than starvation. They take with them the traditions of former walks of life.

That’s why we have Country and Western music, decades after the country in the west was left for the lights, and paychecks of the city. And people like to hang with their people. Chicago is full of ethnic neighborhoods, once very tight. Cities in Africa and Asia are the same. Tribes hang together in the teeming cities. And the habits developed in the fields, forests, mountains, rivers and oceans carry forward intact or are adapted for life in barrios, favelas, or slums in Mumbai.

A smart warrior would be wise to find out the MOS structure of the economy and of the economic past that carries forward. MOS is Military Occupational Specialty, but rather than invent some goofy acronym to replace it, we can still use the idea/ Likewise branch, service, and rank are important to know.

There are “officer corps” in societies. Sociologists call them caste or class. Works out the same way. The butchery of years past in the Rift Valley of Ruanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya are deeply rooted in an economic past of herdsmen versus farmers in which one tribe dominated another. Thus the tall Tutsi consider themselves the warrior class to whom the shorter Hutu (Bantu) owe obedience. The Hutu have more than once made the tall shorter, with machetes.

Then there is Golden Rule. Those who get the gold get to rule. One the other hand, Mao once said that power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Taken together it becomes a synergistic circle: guns to gold to rule OR guns to rule to gold Or … there are nine possible synergisms.

Central to survival is a sense of self, of self pride in providing, protecting, and presenting one’s self, and one’s family. It’s not uncommon that the rich can be bought off, but the poor won’t put up with it.

Such is the case in Mexico. Invaded by us, and by the French, it was the peon that wouldn’t suck up like the aristocrats of Ciudad Mexico. They still don’t like Gringos. But the cheap housing and cost of living between the Sabine and San Diego is built by the hard working peon, illegal or not. Their skill sets came from building their own villages and homes in Mexico.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kismet, Karma, Fate and Firepower

The bullet that has your name on it will get you, regardless. Most of the bullets zipping across the battlefield, however, are addressed “To Whom It May Concern”. It is those address “To Whom It May Concern” that training, equipment, and leadership will defeat. Trusting in God, Allah, The Fuhrer, or the Cause instead is a central issue the Warrior needs to know about those who are about to die. Including one’s own.

Knowing what Fate is is a personal issue. Knowing how the others see it is one of the big four aspects of Family Decision Values (looking for a better term here) of Face, Fate, Fame, and Fortune that guide the decision making process in allocating resources.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Iraq-Iran war sacrificed hundred of thousands of lives whose courage was greater than their competence. Those that survived were the fittest and most dedicated. And now there is a well trained force accustomed to hardship.

The Iraqi Revolutionary Guard, however better trained, were no match for American firepower, and eventually decided that disappearance was the greater virtue to fight another day….and have, to our chagrin.

The Al Qaeda franchise emphasizes the suicide attack, which we often and foolishly attempt to dismiss. They combine sufficient technical and tactical proficiency to launch a suicide attack or campaign combined with the ability to disappear to fight again. Al Qaeda depends upon a cloak of legitimacy amongst the faithful, and acceptance of death by the attacker as a virtue. This is a values based strategy.

Face and Fate are often closely linked. One insulted, some feel it is an obligation, and honor which Fate requires a response. Action and reaction, and consequence. The Warrior who seeks the acquiescence or acceptance of her troops by locals, need to know what constitutes Face issues and the Fate that follows. There are parts of Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington DC, and East LA where one shouldn’t display the Stars and Bars of the Confederate Battle Flag from one’s pickup. Likewise, and ACLU bumper sticker won’t ft well where the Stars and Bars are prominently display.

Fate is consequence tied to circumstance, real and imagined. Fate is not to be tempted without acceptance of the consequences. The Presidential Unit Citation for Taffy 3 reads:

For extraordinary heroism in action against powerful units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippines, October 25, 1944. ...the gallant ships of the Task Unit waged battle fiercely against the superior speed and fire power of the advancing enemy ...two of the Unit's valiant destroyers and one destroyer escort charged the battleships point-blank and, expending their last torpedoes in desperate defense of the entire group, went down under the enemy's heavy shells ... The courageous determination and the superb teamwork of the officers and men who fought the embarked planes and who manned the ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 were instrumental in effecting the retirement of a hostile force threatening our Leyte invasion operations and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.[19

Both the Germans and Japanese dismissed the capacity of Americans for sacrifice thinking that our dismissal of wanton disregard of our own lives was a weakness. In matters of Face and Fate, there is often a really big gap between words and actions. Santa Anna made the same mistake at the Alamo, and got his just rewards at San Jacinto.

We should do no less in fighting terrorism, and make a serious effort to find out what makes the other guy tick.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Slaps that Shape the Face of War

The successful use of the Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture is matter of culling from the information about a culture that reveals it’s Face. Face issues include duty, honor, country, family, be they individual or collective. Battles are fought to grab something, smash something and/or brag about it. It is the bragging and the humiliation that shapes the face of a war.

George Washington’s Christmas Eve attack on the Prussians at Trenton was intended to slap the British Face, to humiliate them and to announce to the Colonies that he intended to fight and win. The positive spin on this definitive Slap in the British Face induced thousands of militia in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to join the rekindled Revolution. A few months before, the British seemed to have the rebellion under hand. After all, Washington had lost ninety percent of his forces after the battles on Long Island.

The Hessian troops under British control were excellent troops, but in the European tradition in which they had been trained and accustomed to, rape, pillage and plunder were not only for service support but as job benefits. This was a Slap in the Face of those in New Jersey that over came their immediate drift to settle up with King George. George Washington’s Slap came as a welcome comeuppance.

Pearl Harbor was not only destructive, but it’s biggest impact on America was it was a huge Slap in the Face by Asians, who by the logic of the day, were inferior. In order to fit this attack into a culturally correct framework was to call the attack a “dastardly and unprovoked” sneak attack. To this day, the term “sneak attack” is ingrained in American culture. But, a Warrior knows that to attack without surprise, an “un-sneaky” attack would the attacker suffering some dastardly results.

FDR knew that this Slap had to be returned. The Doolittle attack was expected to do little in real military or industrial terms. It’s effect as a Slap was a real Face Saver for America, and the insult to Japan resulted in the failed attempt to take Midway.

Likewise did Churchill take the accidental bombing of the London docks by a stray Luftwaffe bomber into an opportunity to bomb Berlin. That Slap in Hitler’s Face shifted the bombing of RAF bases and factories to the bombing of London, the Blitz. This stiffened the resolve of the British, attracted American support, and gave the RAF precious time to rebuild.

Humiliation of an beaten enemy may make the humiliator feel warm and fuzzy, but the cold fury that it engenders has a nasty habit of blow back. The humiliation by Imperial Germany on France at Versailles in 1871 came back in spades at Versailles in 1919. That humiliation was returned in 1941 at the same railway car that saw the surrender of German forces in 1918. In propaganda one portrays the Villain (Bastard, Bitch and/or Brat) to provide fodder for the Hero and Heroine to protect the Helpless. And return the favors in kind.

Face issues are the first of the four “F’s” of Family (collective) decision values, the others are Fate, Fortune, and Fame. Taken together with the Temporal aspects of culture,
Time and Space, the Warrior learns when to slap, when to turn the other cheek, and when to kick back.

Gordon S Fowkes
Lt Col, US Army (Ret)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Triumph of the Will

Catchy title.

About some German grunt who survived on the Western Front for the whole war having his regiment shot to smithereens several times. Had an uncanny ability to be somewhere else when incoming artillery hit where he had been. Earned an Iron Cross, he did. Name of Hitler, Adolf. He wrote a book about his battle. Mein Kampf.

Later elevated himself to Chancellor of Germany, then took the title of Fuhrer. His own military tried to kill him over forty times. His battle sense saved him far too many times as he took his beloved country into a defeat so devastating to rival the fall of Carthage. And at the end, he blamed Germany for having failed him as he killed himself, his wife, and his dog.

Despite clear evidence that Hitler would never negotiate, the Allies built strategies around unfounded assumptions that by destroying key industrial and military facilities and capabilities, Hitler would negotiate. His generals would have, and let the Allies know that they would. The Allies never took that seriously and suffered the division of Europe between the Soviet Union and an American led West. Hitler’s sense of his Fate was that death was preferable than a loss of Face.

Later Khruschev blinked in the Cuban Crisis and the world was led away from a nuclear holocaust. This time it appeared that despite long preparations for nuclear war between the US and the USSR, cooler minds prevailed. In this case, there was more to lose than gain by fighting. It was a clear instance where the Fate was too great to bear to save Face.

Then there war Vietnam, in which the loss of Face to the North Vietnamese by battle losses was of no concern so long as they stuck to their perceived Fate as the winners in their conquest of Vietnam. In the end, it was the Americans who lost Face, and Hanoi’s victory was a huge Face saver.

Desert Storm was a limited objective war, in which Saddam had an opportunity to postpone his ultimate Fate, and in part save Face by crushing the Shi’a after the cease fire with the Coalition. And keep his Fame and Fortune for a decade more.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam was willing to negotiate, but we would have none of it. We assumed that removing Saddam would cause the Iraqi people to adopt American Neo-Conservatism as the salvation from the errors and shortcomings of Iraqi culture…all five thousand years of it, going back before the Bronze Age. Let alone the glory days of the Caliphate, once the pinnacle of human civilization rivaled only in China (maybe). That, despite good intentions, was a slap in the Face.

Despite Neo-Conservative confusion between secular Arabs like Saddam and religious zealots such as Al Qaeda, a modernized version of the Crusade era Hashashashin (deep cover Assassins) which had also operated from bases in the mountains. Like the Hasashashin, Al Qaeda soldiers (aka terrorists) would sacrifice their lives to take out a target.

Now it takes a real genius to assume that Suicide Bombers would be intimidated by Shock and Awe. There’s a case where the enemy’s Face (and that of relatives and compatriots) is enhanced by accepting death as his Fate. It is very hard to terrify a suicidal terrorist.

In order to defuse the bomber, it is necessary to prove that saving Face can be done with a less explosive Fate. Discounting those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is counter-productive. Likewise it is counter-productive for infidels to call the faithful, Islamo-Fascists. Besides being a mushy mouthful, it’s about as accurate as calling a Texan a “damnyankee”.

Before fusing the ordnance, one should find where the “line” is that pulls the trigger, what really pisses them off and where the buttons are that open doors and discussions. It is a matter of a Fate which saves Face, with a touch of Fame and Fortune.

Gordon S Fowkes

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Purity and Essence of Precious Gene Pools – La famiglia.

The First “F” in F4F is the family as it is the root and branch of human organization and decision making, the key concern of a warrior in dealing with another culture. Even one’s own. Families may be traceable in the DNA, and be based on fornication of the literal kind, or they may be based on fornication in figurative kind. Regardless, the central organizing principle is the defense of the favored few. From this we get the concepts of bloodlines, both good and bad.

The nuclear family of mother, father and child is focused on the survival of the family by producing, on average, 2.1 children. Should this number drop, the gene pool, starts to dry up as in the case of North Europe, Japan, and of non-immigrant Americans.

The survival of the original threesome of mother, father and child assumes the child to be helpless and innocent and requires the protective role of the father against external threats and the nurturing role of the mother. There is considerable overlap in these roles between different cultures (and species), Add trauma and/or alcohol to these three essential roles and you get two major and dysfunctional variants, the heroic and the villainous. The villainous include the bastard, bitch, and brat, while their counter parts are the hero, heroine, and the infant.

Since the family unit does not meet reproducing status until 2.1 children are born as replacements, other children must be produced with special attention to those who illustrate survival traits. And therein begins the rub, sibling rivalry. This extends past just the original parental pair, and the competition extends unto multiple generations, which includes extended families, tribes, communities, ethnics, and races. Sibling rivalry is readily extended into a constant state of war within the branches of a blood line, or between them.
Families, extended or not, may also and are often not based on a gene pool or blood line. But they operate in much the same way in terms of the protection of the favored few, and rivalry between families of the tribe. Instead of a direct reliance on blood alone, other qualifications based on merit, wealth, or other qualifications. Thus an infantry company is no less a family than one based on blood.

The analogy of family is carried into criminal activity, and even the names associated with a blood family are grafted on to the organization such as God Father of the Corleone Family. Membership in the SS was partly based on genetic considerations, and their activities were clearly those of eliminating others whose crime was having the wrong blood lines.

The extension of the family model into other activities such as religion create opportunities for the mother, father, child trilogy as well as the two dysfunctional roles heroes and villains. Many African Bantu tribes. prior to Western occupation, had an immediate civil war on the death of a great chief between the surviving sons. The great migrations of the Bantu in East Africa in large part was due to the maneuvering of the tribal factions.

The same model exists in the US military establishment at the conclusion of a major conflict which required granting commissions to officers who were not of the chosen few chosen before hostilities. The creation of an All Volunteer (aka Regulars only) in the mid Seventies was occasioned by a purge of Reserve and Guard officers of extended active and combat duty, and without regard to their qualifications.

This sort of purge is not peculiar to the American military but to other nations with a similar tribal view. In order to retain the appearance of a superior “bloodline” it is essential to deny their reserve components sufficient funding, fuel, ammunition and equipment so that their failure in combat can be attributed to their inferior heritage.

F4F is triggered when the competition for blood, glory, gold, and career enhancing assignments reaches certain thresh holds or provides opportunities. In Desert Storm, the threat of four National Guard maneuver brigades being deployed to the desert was seen as a slap in the Face of Regular units, and those brigades were deemed not deployable as unqualified unlike the fighter squadrons, medical units, and field artillery units of the tribe of the Weekend Warrior. They were deemed not to share the fame, fortune, and fate of “real” warriors.

Such was the case in the creation of the Modular Army as those in the combat arms considered their “blood lines” aka career paths, worthy of the Order of the Green Tab (command) and increased the available field grade command and staff positions by fifty percent to increase the brass to boot ratio. Troublesome combat service support personnel was rendered irrelevant by hiring contractors who hired Guard, Reserve, and retired military personnel. The separation of Regular and Reserve commissions prevented pollution of the pure Regular blood, so that heroism, and competence would not contaminate the true bloods.

After all, even when a regular transfers to the Guard and Reserve, his blood turns to Muggle Blood, and rarely does the Half Blood Prince get a real chance. Such was the case in Stalin’s purges and those of Pol Pot in Cambodia. In the latter, a pair of glasses or soft hands got you dead quick

These examples are taken from real life and in terms that the Warrior can readily analyze the opposing, adjacent, and collocated tribal elements with a better chance to see which decisions they are likely to make and how they are different from outs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Decision Values (F4F) and Sun Tzu

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. –Sun Tzu

F4F is an acronym to recall the four Decision Values of Face, Fate, Fame and Fortune used by a given primary group or Family in the allocation of resources to workload, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Knowing these Decision Values (F4F) is at the heart of Cultural Competence and Cultural Awareness.

Our operations in Iraq were hamstrung by an overweening arrogance typical of QDR 2006 that ignored the impact of Islamic, Arab, and Iraqi Decision Values placed in the decisions of both our friends and foes. Placing an airborne boot on the neck of the head of an Iraqi family pushed the Face of the family into the dirt, which required American blood to expiate, a Fate required of the codes of conduct of the Iraqi family.

A slap in the face doesn’t have to be by a hand or in the face to efface the honor of the Family. Face is the sense of shame, blame, guilt or gloat coming from a myriad of factors including time, distance, posture, attitude that defines turf. Turf wars are examples of Face which Fate requires a response.

Turf wars can be so destructive that the very existence of the Family is forfeit. The Russian GRU recently exploited turf wars within Chechnya to bring that battle torn republic into some sense of order and should be noted as a major upgrade in Russian military capabilities reminiscent of Catherine and Ivan.

Bombing Pearl Harbor was a serious slap in the face which American notions of duty, honor, country and/or ego so devastating that popular opinion in American switched from over eighty percent against war to eight percent for. Japan, by not knowing our Decision Values lost the war on the first bomb dropped on Battleship Row.

The Afghan sense of honor, of Face and Fate can require a sacrifice of life and property, but their sense of Fortune can out rank resulting in the pay off of tribal leaders. In our Decision Values, that would be seen as a sell out, but not in the Middle East as the primary task of a tribal leader is to provide for his tribe, and that means material gain.

There are deep rooted Face issues, deep resentments, in the United States dating back to the Civil War in the South by both former masters and former slaves. The former for having their slaves, property and honor taken away at gun point, and the latter by being repressed before and after the emancipation. The Stars and Bars is a symbol of that deep fault line in our body politic.

F4F Decision Values are complex requiring detailed cultural anthropological information. The Warrior need not be an anthropologist any more than she needs to be a climatologist or geologist to determine trafficability of a proposed avenue of approach. But a Warrior needs to know what questions to ask. Just as a Warrior should ask what the Density Altitude is, he should what are the sensitive events, that trigger positive or negative Face reactions, she should also ask what Fate demands of the others, and what susceptibility to Fame or Fortune may affect military operations be they Offense, Defense, and/or Stability.

By taking these into consideration at the end of WW2, our most ferocious enemies, the Japanese and the Germans, have stood by us for over half century. We rubbed that Nazi’s Face in the dirt, not that of Germany or the Germans. It’s paid off.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flipping Culture - MICE v F4F

Why should a warrior give a flip about flipping culture? Just blow the flipper’s flipping head off, and his hearts and minds will follow, right? Well, it’s because the flipper’s got more than one flipping head, and they don’t think flipping logical! And, because that’s the flipping way it goes, the first flip you gotta give is what kind of flippers they are. And that’s a fact, Jack.

The cloak and dagger types got an acronym (who doesn’t) they use to flip some flipper around to the other side. It’s called MICE. Not the flipping squeakers rattling around in the walls, but M for Money, I for Ideology, C for Compromise, and E for Ego. In Gordon’s War, MICE is the flip side of a new and improved acronym F4F which isn’t the flipping fighter plane.

The Family in question is also known as (AKA) the primary group which usually maxes out at 150 people ('s_number) . Primary groups are company sized groups. In modern times, an individual can belong to more than one primary group. The more primitive and rural, the customs, mores, behaviors, beliefs, and opinions are more cohesive and inclusive.

F4F includes the four factors of Family: Fate, Face, Fame and Fortune that favor cohesion of the family from flipping to the other side. Like MICE.

M for Money is the same a Fortune in F4F and that is the default motivator for most. Money represents food, shelter, health, and that which keeps the body, and sometimes the soul together.

Any one whose motives are not directed towards the niceties and necessities of life, have motives outside the norm, the middle two thirds of us. One out of six calls the shots for the rest and who cleans up the mess after the other one sixth left creates.

The middle two thirds is flipping arithmetic for one standard deviation plus and minus from the mean … that’s for a two tailed distribution. Pareto’s law says that eighty percent of the shtuff comes from twenty percent of the shtuffers. Either way you flip it, you deal with the minority, not the majority the majority of the time. The flipping few who run things are overly endowed with a concern for their flipping fame, and associated fate and face underlying the fame (and/or fortune).

A warrior’s concern is to know whether the other guy’s family (primary group) is going to fight, flee, or flake out. Once M for Money has been ruled out … or failed, the other guy won’t flip if his sense of Face requires to face us off. This is facilitated by his sense of who or what is his F for Fate is.

The Fate of a leader depends a lot on how his face (reputation, bravery, cowardice, etc) is seen by himself and by his Family. The Fate of a follower is likewise tied to the leader, and the Follower’s sense of his own fate under the leader. Saving Face is a really big face saver, even to the point of an unfortunate Fate.

The Warrior must not assume that the other guy’s F4F is the same is her own. Different strokes, you know. We assumed that Hitler could be dumped by his people if enough cities were blow to shtuff. He killed himself with Germany in ruins about him, and condemning the German people for failing him. Hitler’s face was in his mirror.

We assumed that Shock and Awe and precision munitions would depose Saddam. He died well, unshakable in his personal Fate and Face as President of Iraq. Nasty fellow, though. And many a nasty is about whose sense of Fate, Face, and Fame is on a plane of existence not familiar to many Americans.

It is wrong for a warrior to favor insulting an enemy’s face and the cohesion of his hosts of warriors and sycophants, when enhancing it may serve better. That is the stuff of deception, of ambush, of bait and switch, and the pursuit to ambush so loved by the crafty warrior. A good insult, or a flipping of whatever passes for the bird, taunts, and obscene gestures has insulted many a ferocious warrior to rush to his doom, and those of his or her people.

Prior to battle, part of knowing one’s enemies (and allies) is to know what makes up his/her sense of Fate, Fame, Fortune and Face is prudence, if not absolutely essential. Assumption are the Mother of All F*ups.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture

A Warrior’s quest for conquest, control, influence, and support of foreign folks is frustrated by the fact that foreigners don’t think or act the same way. Take map reading, for example, a light infantryman’s focus on hundreds of meters conflict with the thousands that either the artilleryman or tanker thinks in, while a four digit coordinate is useful to a tanker on the move, the artilleryman wants eight digits to shoot. Different frames of reference and different values.

Of significant import to the Warriors on the way or waiting, culture isn’t some exotic high order discipline concerning obscure tribal terrorists, or helpless refugees. It’s all around us, and we use cross cultural analysis just to get through the day. Try explaining that to a person of the opposite sex.

Unlike the academic, the Warrior has to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources on his feet, or in her hatch based on an hip pocket short list of factors like METT-TC. Whatever guide to action when one has to shoot and move has to be no more complicated than what can be written on the back of an envelope (letter size). Whatever acronyms should not have more than four different characters, five or more get forgotten. Other guides to recall need easy to recall.

The Family

To that end, the most important aspect that the Warrior has to deal with is the other guy’s inclination to adopt or decline a set of courses of action, and that depends on the other guy’s sense of self as the member of a Family. These can be real extended families or tribes, or the fact that the family or primary group is broken. And that sense of self comes out in Acronym F: Family – Fate, Face, Fame, and Fortune.

In our military one’s fate is sealed by the cohesion and competence of the unit, it’s training and leadership. Absent a sense of confidence, the unit falls apart. That which enforces the perception of Fate, is hard wired into the sense of Face, that of not letting one’s buddies, family, nation or tribe … down.

Fame and Fortune are not always linked, but usually are. If one’s unit succeeds, your paycheck continues, and your fame is recorded in the appropriate OER, EER, of Fitness Report.

That’s the way we look at it, but other cultures with me might fight, or support have different senses of Fate, Face, Fame, and Fortune. The concept of Family in Africa is far more comprehensive and compelling than anything a native American has experienced. In Africa and in most of the non-Western world, the cohesion of the family and it’s extensions as tribes is at the core of survival. One’s fate is decided by the status and success of the family, and the needs of the family over ride those of the individual. An that includes the cohesion of the family or tribal political processes that govern place to the members of the tribe.

We consider the practice of employing relatives to be nepotism, but in most of the world, nepotism is a necessity and an obligation. We see that in our own country where immigrants, both legal and not, send money home to their families. Remittances of this are major sources of income for many countries including Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan, et al.

From whatever source the four F’s of family, it affects the choices to take a course of action relative to that which the Warrior is embarked on. If a local loses face before a Warrior, his culture may require that his fate is revenge. Such was the case with the American practice of putting one foot on the neck of the head of a family, an insult so dreadful that only American blood could wash away.

The Temporal

Close after and underlying the Family are the perceptions of time, place, sight, sound, distance, and smell included in the sense of values of the Family.

Time is at the top of the list. Northern Europe, the US and Japan are time sensitive and expect time of things to be precise with an underlying assumption that time is a progression of events. In most of the rest of the world, time is repetitive. It is 1-2-3-4-5 in the US, Japan, and Germany, while in Africa and the Middle East it is more like 1-2-1-2-1.

In Germany or Japan, when a meeting is to be held at 1500, it doesn’t mean 1501. One’s watch can be set to the minute by the arrival of trains at the local train station. In warmer climes, a party to start and 2200 hrs means that the guest start getting dressed at 2200. In Kenya, it means the time one leaves for the party.

Sight and Sound are aspects that differ in importance. The US, China and Japan are big on visuals. The wrapping on a gift is at least as important as the gift in Japan. In both China and Japan, the signage on buildings is overwhelming, enough to drive American area beautification politicians bonkers.

In the Middle East and in Africa, sound is more important. An American housewife will use the appearance of a melon as a guide, or perhaps a squeeze. The African would thump the melon and judge the sound. We have billboards announcing church services, in Islamic countries it is the call to prayer. The chanting of lessons in Muslim schools is part of the aural aspect of culture.

It’s not what the other sees that matters, it is what he hears.

As for distance, there is nothing more disconcerting for an American tourist in Japan than to ride on crowded subways during rush hour. There isn’t a word in the English language to describe crowding on a Japanese subway. Sardines have more elbow room.

The Body

Each culture has it’s manual of arms for the use and maintenance of the human body. There are drills regarding how one sits, stand, walks, talks, eats and shts. The code extends to the use of the various parts of the body including hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth, nose and stern tubes.

A woman’s hair in Islam is seen as a source of sexuality that is so powerful that it must be covered. To do otherwise is brazen hussyville and an offense to God. So powerful is the female body seen in many Islamic cultures, it must be covered up to preserve the sanctity of women and hence of the family. The crux of much of the opposition to Western influence in the Middle East is the perception that Women's freedom is an attack on the sanctity of women and therefore of the Family.

We are familiar with the importance of not showing the soles of one’s feet to a Muslim or Middle Easterner as it is the height of insult. And that goes to interesting and decidedly uncomfortable sitting when a chair is not available. Only Americans cross their legs while sitting in a chair. A fair number of US personnel escaping and evading in WW 2 failed for this error.

Staring at another person can get you killed in some cultures, while the lack of eye contact is insulting in others (like ours). The manual of the eyeball needs to be included in one’s notes.

Table manners, including seating arrangements are another key area. In Japan, the most important person in the group is last to enter, and whomever is speaking for the firm is not the boss. One does not eat with the left hand in Muslim countries. The fork in Europe is always held in the left hand, and the knife right hand is used to pile the food on the fork, Only Americans do the fork-knife shuffle.

The Family Feud.

The survival of a family, tribe, or village depends upon the success of the replacement system, as in reproduction. The replacement unit, a human child, takes a dozen years to develop to a stage where the reproduction unit (female) is capable of bearing the next generation. As this time is the longest time of all Gods creatures, the division of roles in between male and female to protect the infant calls for a protective role for the father, and a nurturing role for the mother so that the child grows. These are not mutually exclusive.

Thus the three essential duties of protection, nurturing and growing are the driving factors in family dynamics. Absent protection, the child becomes lunch. Absent nurturing, the child withers. The legends, the voyage of the hero, and fables of the family maintain the importance of a proper balance so that the child can grow up.

So much power is involved in the interface of duties, that some folks get wrapped up in the power and glory of a game of role switches and of exaggeration for its own sake. This is core of the psychological discipline of Transactional Analysis which is an awfully handy system of decoding BS.

For each of the key valid roles of Protector, Nurturer, and (Growing) Child there are a pair of dysfunctional counterparts. In short, the goody two shoes or Bright Side variety include: The Hero, the Heroine, and the Helpless Child. Everyone wants to be portrayed in Bright Side colors.

On the other hand, Heroes need to rescue a victim and prosecute a villain. Victimhood demands villains of whom there are three, the Dark Side of the Trilogy: The Bastard, the Bitch, and the Brat. The domain of the Bitch is manipulation, that of the Bastard is battery, and that of the Brat is fury.

The Hero must create a Villain without whom there are no heroics. Saddam Hussein was a bastard who cheated and retreated, and was crazy to boot. Hitler created the Jew as a sneaky underhanded (Bitchtype 2) inferior (brat type 3) race that was taking up too many of the jobs that took talent and brains.

The truly dangerous play role switches, acting as if from the Bright Side to justify operating from the Dark Side. The examples of this vicious game system are too numerous to mention. Consider the massacres in Ruanda, Sudan, and the periodic outburst on the Sub Continent.

Understanding the dynamic of the Game System are essential for the Warrior to anticipate the decisions of the players and gamesters in the current operating environment.

Hunters and Farmers

Recent work in the treatment of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) has revealed the concept that ADD is not a “disorder” but an older dynamic that kept hunters from being lunch in the wild, and that the norm is what evolved from farmers whose survival was in plowing furrows in straight lines, and following orders from the glitterati and intelligentsia (Princes and Priests).

In India, ADD is called the “old mind” tuned to the hunt in which the individual had to be constantly on the alert for danger and for dinner. Once dinner was cited, the chase was on, depending on who was the dinner or the diner. Placed in the world of the farmer, a world of order and precision, the hunter doesn’t do well. The majority of criminals in our jails have ADD as they just can’t sit still in ordered society.

We know of really great warriors in the field who languish in garrison. Same thing. In dealing with more rural areas, it helps to determine the balance between hunters and farmers. It doesn’t take a genius or anthropologist to see that the Afghans are hunters and trying to make them farmers runs contrary to the hard wiring in their psyche.


The Warrior in the field in his analysis of METT-TC does the usual terrain analysis of avenues of approach, key terrain, obstacles, observation, and fields of fire, all of which are affected by the works of man, works that may be peculiar to the culture at hand.

Those cultures on flat land with water get big on canals for drainage and irrigation that will interfere or facilitate movement of troops and vehicles. Likewise, the terracing of hills for agriculture in China and it’s neighbors.

Buildings in some cultures are fortress capable, others as firewood. Roads, paths and the like are long recognized terrain features peculiar to a given culture. The Warrior needs to gather information of the effects of the culture on the land. Instead of relying on just the map symbols.

The reverse side of that is the effect the land has one the people. And that goes to Fortune, the making of a living, There are cultures based on trade routes on the land, and those based on water … as in piracy and robbery, a fundamental source of income in all too many parts of the world.

An ancient game, thousands of years old, between piracy and commerce is being played out in the waters off Somalia. This in an old culture that is not likely to be put out of action by the rattling of sabers … or for that matter military force until and honorable way for the pirates of old to earn money in a less dysfunctional manner. In Afghanistan, it is in the blood.

We have heard that all politics is local, and now you should know that all local politics has to do with who gets to do what on what land.

The Wrap Up

The Family – Fate, Fame, Fame and Fortune
Temporal – Time, Sound, Sight, Distance
The Body - Sit, stand, shake hands, or bow
The Family Feud – Heroes, Heroines, and the Helpless vs the Bastard, Bitch, and Brat.
The Hunter in a Farmers World - To lunch or be lunch vs the plow and the pitchfork
The Ground – All local politics is where to dig or not to dig.

This is a Work in Progress, a WIP, if you please.