FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Marines in Iraq Get "Culture Cards"

Remember that deck of Iraqi "most wanted" playing cards distributed to our troops in the early days of the Iraq war to help them find the bad guys? Well, the Marine Corps Intelligence Agency has revisited that training approach with its Iraq Training Smart Cards, which they have been distributing for the past two years.

The cards are a convenient, low-tech way to get soldiers up to speed quickly in an alien environment, covering such basics as ethnic differences, customs, attitudes, offensive hand gestures, table manners, and fundamentals of Islam. “They are meant for the 19- or 20-year-old soldier, moving door to door in a hostile environment,” said Col. Keith Lawless, MCIA commanding officer. “This will help him stay out of trouble.”

Among other things, the cards stress that it's important to grip lightly when shaking hands (and grip only the tips of the fingers when shaking hands with a woman), and always shake with the right hand. Also, the "thumbs up" gesture is considered obscene in that part of the world.

Sources: New York Times, we make money not art