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27 February 2010

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Adam L Silverman

I got it here:
http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/document-friday-a-soldiers-handbook-to-iraq-fouo-for-official-use-only/

I have no idea why the NSA archives decided to release it now.

Fred Strack

Dr. Silverman,

I believe there was an article by Justin Elliot on the Talking Points Memo blog about the handbook, not sure what drove his post, though.

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Strack,

I saw that. I think what drove it is that he found parts of the handbook somewhere between very bad and terrible. I gave it a quick looksee and I think parts were useful and parts look just like what they are: something put together by folks on the DIV staff who may or may not have a lot of expertise dealing with socio-cultural issues. For instance, I found the Iraqi rank information stuff to be a good inclusion. You want everyone who might interact with Iraqi Army, National Police, Regular Police, to be able to recognize who they're dealing with to minimize miscommunications. If I recall correctly one of my research managers pulled that information and made sure it was posted to the BCT web portal and distributed so everyone would have the same thing.

I think the sections about Iraqi beliefs, religion, communication are a mess. Again an "A" for effort, but its not only wrong, but it does read a bit patronizingly. I think they would have done better with a discussion on the differences between how Americans communicate (low context) and how Iraqis and other Arabs communicate (high context). We prepared some briefings on this for our BCT; especially for those who would be interacted with the Iraqis the most.

Again, just a couple of quick takes. I basically skimmed it. I can tell you that the Army and Marines have gotten much smarter about the need for quality information and training on dealing with the host country population. I've seen the stuff that comes out these days and its light years ahead.

LeaNder

I think the sections about Iraqi beliefs, religion, communication are a mess. Again an "A" for effort, but its not only wrong, but it does read a bit patronizingly.

Absolutely. The "Arab World View"? Hmmm? "the Arab Mind?" What exact definition of atomism is this first item in the list based on?

You are very polite, Sir, as far as "A" for effort goes in this context. Wouldn't we need at least a definition of it for an "A"? for effort.

It's not only patronizing, it's absolutely sick. Not that I didn't "meet" this superior culture identity and selective historical knowledge point of view all over the US in comment sections like e.g. Daniel Pipes. E.g. celebrating the Pope's misguided speech. What associative fields did it create in the minds of US soldiers? Was it's intention a specific side effect? Listen boys you come from a superior culture, but please be polite.

Patrick Lang

LeaNder

you have missed the point which is that even at that early date the US Army was making an effort to educate its people about thaat strange and far off land. They got it wrong? What a surprise. It is evident that Canadians don't understand much about the US and they live next door. If you read the equivalent Army publications to day you would find them more satisfactory. No. I take that back. Nothing would be satisfactory to you. pl

walrus

The advice on first aid for a snake bite is wrong too. Compression bandage directly over the unwashed wound is the way to go. Tight, as if for a sprained ankle.

LeaNder

Sorry, Colonel, I have the highest respect for Dr. Silverman, and my response obviously was rather selective.

Still how do the authors combine the atomistic (item 1) world view with paranoia (item 5). Doesn't paranoia need some kind of cause and effect line of thought?

Something I don't like either: "wish versus reality". One of the most peculiar paragraphs.

Please understand I mainly object to the "Arab world view". As I doubt no Arab is able to think in the sense of cause and effect. Let's assume an Iraqi peasant stumbles over a stone. Don't you think he is able to realize what caused his fall?

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