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Afghan Soldiers Learn How Not To Get Offended By U.S. Troops

Marines in Afghanistan

Above: Marines in Afghanistan

The Afghan Defense Ministry has written up a pamphlet to guide its soldiers on American cultural practices that Afghans might find insulting, even if the intent of the U.S. service member isn't to offend.

The Washington Post got a hold of a copy of the pamphlet, called “Cultural Understanding — A Guide to Understanding Coalition Cultures.”

On the list of inadvertently offensive actions: winking, not hiding private parts in the shower, and blowing one's nose in public.

And, according to the booklet, Afghans shouldn't feel insulted if someone shows them the souls of their shoes...

“When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.”

The purpose of the pamphlet is to ease tensions between U.S. troops and Afghan soldiers at a time when insider attacks are skyrocketing. According to the Washington Post, Afghan allies have killed 51 NATO ISAF troops so far this year.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 1, 2012 at 12:56 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

"...winking, not hiding private parts in the shower, and blowing one's nose in public."

That is not exactly polite behavior in America either. The LAST thing we need is the Pentagon trying to write an American culture book for Afghans.

Might as well have Howard Stern and Honey Boo Boo write it.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 1, 2012 at 1:59 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

CD, please consider that the conditions where these potentially offensive actions would take place are not what one would consider 'lavish'. Living in the field or in close quarters requires letting go of a number of social norms when it comes to privacy. Our soldiers receive cultural awareness training. It is not unreasonable to expect a little reciprocation, especially if it could avoid one of these murders.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 1, 2012 at 3:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago


Soldiers don't make good cultural ambassadors to begin with. But having the Pentagon suggest their behavior (regardless of the field conditions) is the norm in America is wrong.

Also, I don't think the green on blue attacks are the result of US soldiers blowing their noses. Perhaps there is another catalyst behind it?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 1, 2012 at 6:21 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I agree with Benz, these may seem "silly" to us, but they can save lives overseas.

I hope the pamphlets are available in the local languages and not just English.

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