Eleven years into the War in Afghanistan, and US soldiers are still unaware of local customs. Officials think these unintentionally insulting actions may have led to some of the recent insider attacks, and are taking action to try to prevent such acts of revenge.
In an unusual twist however, it's not American troops that are being educated - the US military has tried a variety of teaching techniques - it's the Afghan soldiers.
The Afghan Army is distributing a pamphlet that reveals some of the minor actions by NATO forces that can be deeply insulting to the Aghan soldiers.
- “Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”
- "When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”
- “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.” Showing someone the soles of their shoes is considered a grievous insult.
- Additional rules include NATO soldiers asking about female relatives, winking, or exposing their privates while showering.
There is hope that this new initiative will promote more understanding and better cooperation between NATO and Afghan forces, although some think that this attempt at understanding is coming too late.