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.