Thursday, April 5, 2012

RuPaul and PSYOP

The world situation called for something a little lighter this week and so I offer PSYOP and the world of Drag. For my non-American readers RuPaul is a famous American “Drag Queen”. Drag is the slang term for men dressing in women’s clothing. The 29 March 2012 issues of Mail Online (, the on-line version of the UK publication the Daily Mail, had an article “Meet the Taliban Transvestites: Rebels are captured dressed in drag” – which is also the photo source.

The photo shows Taliban who were arrested east of Kabul. While I’ve never been to Afghanistan, it is my distinct impression that women are not afforded a very high status in Afghanistan and that a man in woman’s clothing would surely be a step down in status.

It strikes me that this image and the message “only cowardly men disguise themselves as women” would be a good one for MISO purposes. Likely they would be most effective in areas where these individuals might even be recognized.

In any event, the picture struck me as a good diversion from the grave nature of much of what is going on in the world today.


Voodoo said...

For several years the TB have been employing this ruse, and TPTs have been exploiting it along the exact same lines you suggest. The effect, in my direct experience, has been highly limited. Neutrals recognize the implications of wearing women's clothes, but there's no resultant behavior change, because, fundamentally, turning against the TB gets you and your family killed.

Soldier-Cynic said...

Sir, I hate to say this, but your observation is the kind of arm-chair PSYOP that non-practitioners foster on the community. There may be something of utility, but any messages need to be filtered through the PSYOP process. You're acting on a Western interpretation of Afghan culture that may or may not reflect the reality on the ground. An important question needing resolution is what does the TA think of men wearing women's clothes as a ruse of war? Is it viewed as cowardice, guile, or simple necessity?

Now, being the complete hypocrite, I'll throw another idea into the ring. Though completely un-PC and therefore probably a non-starter, I think another message might revolve around these men desiring to return to the role of a dancing boy. Or simply using the term to describe the men in an official release: "Two bachas associated with the Taliban were arrested..."

Lawrence Dietz said...

@Cynic - first of all, nothing wrong with being a cynic - I've been accused of that once or twice. While I'm not a tactical practitioner now, I consider myself a very knowledgeable observer which, of course, is not the same thing as being there. I see my role as to throw stuff out and see what happens.

Now the second part of your comment goes deeper into the culture, a level I sadly do not possess. However, as an intelligence pro - I see the value of positing an array of theories.

Thanks for the comments!