(If video does not start at 3:34 of the clip – fast forward to that time for the example discussed here)
When we want to identify the leader of a group of people that we are watching, observing adoration towards one of the members of the group is a significant indicator. Adoration is a positive sign of respect towards someone who you admire and can be done both verbally and non-verbally.
In the military we are masters of this trait, and we display indicators of adoration about every three seconds. When we refer to higher-ranking officers as “sir” or “ma’am,” we are verbally showing respect for that person, or at least to the rank they are wearing. We refer to senior ranking enlisted Marines by their rank when we greet them (Good morning Staff Sergeant.) We do this non-verbally when we greet senior officers with a salute (historically the salute was used as a way to show someone your face and therefore be not a threat to someone,) and as we walk past or stand at the position of parade rest – putting our hands behind our back (a submissive gesture and a way to show we are not a threat) when we talk to them. When we walk with those senior Marines, we walk to the left of them and stay just a step behind, only moving in front of them to hold open a door for them.
In the military, we do these things because that behavior has been physically drilled into us at boot camp or officer candidate school, as they are the proper customs and courtesies for interacting with someone senior to us. In a very hierarchical society, such as the military, these indicators become very hard to turn off. You do them so repetitively, that they become part of your natural behavior when you are around these senior officers. You can try to turn off those displays of adoration, and may succeed temporarily, but when your attention lapses you will find yourselves reverting back to that behavior.
Insurgents or criminal organizations are no different. Junior guys are taught to show respect for their leaders and may demonstrate some of the same behavior, giving away the identity of the person in charge. They may hold the door open to let the person in charge go through first, or may go into a room first to ensure it is safe for their boss to follow them in.
You may be watching a conversation where people in the group continually defer to one person, letting that person control the pace and topic of conversation. You may see those same people continually look towards the person in charge for approval or to be acknowledged.
These signs of adoration – respect and admiration – are indicators. By exhibiting them a leader’s entourage can easily and subtly give away who is in charge.
Take a look at the video above. It should be cued up to start at 3:34, but if it isn’t, skip to that part. This video was taken by the Taliban after they “captured” an American army base in Kamdesh, Afghanistan. The reality of it was that the Army pulled out of the base, unfortunately leaving behind a great deal of ammunition and some weapons.
At about the 3:34 mark, a truck drives into the compound and several individuals get out, one of whom is wearing light brown clothes, a dark brown vest, and has a light-colored “hat” on. As he puts himself in position so that the fighters can come up and congratulate him (overt adoration) on the successful “attack,” look for a subtle sign of adoration from a member of his entourage. Someone close by realizes that the leader will have trouble shaking hands and hugging the fighters with a rifle in his hands, so, without being ordered to, he subtly comes up and takes the AK-47 out of his hands, freeing the leader up to hug his men.
Even when leaders are doing their best to avoid detection from the military or police, their entourage may accidentally display some sort of behavior that indicates who their leader is. The subtle forms of adoration may very well be the indicators that you need to locate the key leaders in your area.
See other indicators in the video? Let me know.