RESPECT. It’s one of the army values. I spoke about sexual assault last time—that’s a major violation of this Army value.
I’d like to talk about another kind of respect today. That’s the respect we must show on this mission to our partners. We’ll be working in Muslim nations. We will be their guests. They take respect very seriously—and so must we. That’s the reason for our Rapport class, and for additional cultural training we will do.
In 2011, Dr. Jeffrey Bordin published a report entitled, “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility: A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of Afghan National Security Force Personnel and US Soldiers”
US deaths at the hands of Afghan forces are not “ just a result of insurgent infiltration,” but many are targeted killings resulting from personal clashes, in which Afghans felt insulted and bullied by American soldiers.
“Factors that fueled the most animosity included US convoys not allowing traffic to pass, reportedly indiscriminant return U.S. fire that causes civilian casualties, … US. Forces conducting night raids-home searches, violating female privacy during searches, US. road blocks, publicly searching/disarming ANSF members as an SOP when they enter bases, and past massacres of civilians by U.S. Forces (i.e., the Wedding Party Massacre, the Shinwar Massacre, etc.). Other issues that led to altercations or near~altercations … included urinating in public, … cursing at, insulting and being rude and vulgar to ANSF members, and unnecessarily shooting animals. They found many US. Soldiers to be extremely arrogant, bullying, unwilling to listen to their advice, and were often seen as lacking concern for civilian and ANSF safety during combat.”
It’s not a one sided report. It discusses the frustrations US soldiers have with their Afghan counterparts. But the recommendations are pointed—treat people with respect, don’t use profanity, don’t violate their privacy, don’t urinate in public, or shoot animals unnecessarily, or order people to do things without explaining to them why. Be sure to teach soldiers about Islam, and how it is practiced, and its varieties. And if there are soldiers with abrasive personalities who are likely to bully, or curse, or violate the dignity of our partners, then “those personnel with such dysfunctional personalities should be profiled and excluded from deployment,” because “they do not contribute to the mission, they in fact jeopardize it.”
Strong words. But the one Army value summarizes what we need RESPECT. Or, as many religious have taught, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”