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Afghan troops get a lesson in American cultural ignorance

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US cultural ignoranceeA new Afghan army-issued guide explains to soldiers here that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge.

Eleven years into the war in Afghanistan, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural understanding, officials say, contributing to a string of insider attacks that have threatened to undermine the military partnership. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts.

To address a laundry list of cross-cultural pitfalls — and to avoid their potentially fatal consequences — the Afghan Ministry of Defense this month introduced a pamphlet called “Cultural Understanding — A Guide to Understanding Coalition Cultures.”

The 18-page training guide, written in Dari, will soon be distributed to Afghan military leaders across the country. The booklet will be taught in three one-hour sessions to all soldiers as well as new recruits.


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