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.

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