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.