I try to keep politics from interfering with this site, but David Rohde’s excellent coverage in the New York Times on the Pentagon’s new experimental program, the Human Terrain Team, which enlists the help of cultural anthropologists to help tackle the tricky cultural nuances the military is confronting in Iraq and Afghanistan, is something I can’t not post about.
The article, “Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones,” is excellently written, it not only covers the good things that have come about from recruiting anthropology into the fold, such as reducing armed conflicts by 60%, but also the critiques from the anthropological community. There’s also a informative video, which if I could, I’d embed here for you to see.
There’s so much to comment on the piece that I could honestly quote the whole article. Rather than do that, I recommend you jump on over and read the piece. Having academics, like anthropologists consult and assist in the war effort, is something I advocated many years ago, as it seemed like the military had no cultural sensitivity when the wars were starting. I remember I got chastised by Lorenz of antropologi.info but I still stand by my opinion that anthropology can help the war effort. I’m glad the head honchos have considered experimenting with social science to deal with problems that would never be solved by gunfights and military might.