Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

Army Mules for Afghanistan?

June 6, 2011

The U.S. Army might send pack mules to Afghanistan. The logistics of supplying patrols in that rugged terrain are complex and costly, and new experimental cargo robots aren’t working out.


Pentagon Observes Banned Books Week?

September 28, 2010

Pentagon Observes Banned Books Week?

In recognition of Banned Book Week, the Defense Department bought up nearly 10,000 copies of a memoir and destroyed them. The book, Operation Dark Heart, was written by former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Anthony A. Shaffer and covers his special operations experience in Afghanistan.


U.S. Funds Afghan Warlords

June 22, 2010

U.S. Funds Afghan Warlords
A new Congressional report outlines U.S. protection payoffs to Afghan warlords. Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan was just issued by the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. John Tierney (D, MA-6). The subcommittee will hold hearings on the topic today.

Truck convoys supply Forward Operating Bases throughout Afghanistan under DOD’s $2 billion Host Nation Trucking (HNT) program, and the contractors are responsible for providing their own security. They end up “hiring” the warlords and insurgents who would be prone to attacking them.


Anthropologists in Afghanistan

April 11, 2010

Anthropologists in Afghanistan

The U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) program surfaced on Bob Edwards’ radio program this weekend. The HTS sends anthropologists to Afghanistan in order to minimize cultural misunderstandings between the U.S. military and Afghanis. Three social scientists have died in the effort.

While it sounds noble and straightforward, the program is controversial within academia for ethical reasons, and questions have been raised concerning the capabilities of the HTS leadership. 

The Marines also utilize HTS scientists, and there is a film about the program.  Vanessa M. Gezari  reported on the Human Terrain System last summer (more here).


Image by Mike Licht.

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Military Musings on “Minerva”

May 30, 2008

Military Musings on

The Military decided use of “embedded anthropologists” in combat zones was effective, but the discipline ruled it unethical. Now the Department of Defense is preparing to launch Minerva, a project based on the concept that knowledge of culture is essential to defense. This sounds like a logical proposition, but no mix of academe and arms is without controversy


A Modest Proposal: Afghan Opium Energy

April 8, 2008

A Modest Proposal -- Afghan Opium Energy

Thanks to the ongoing conflict, Afghanistan now supplies 93% of the world’s opiates, twice the world demand. The opium trade is a major source of funding for insurgents and government corruption.

The war-torn country has coal, oil and gas reserves, but they are undeveloped.

Why not use the opium oversupply to address the energy undersupply? Make ethanol from opium poppies.