Another article about military anthropologists: The Christian Science Monitor writes about anthropologist “Tracy” who helps the US Army in their war against Afghanistan. Tracy “can give only her first name” to the journalist:
Evidence of how far the US Army’s counterinsurgency strategy has evolved can be found in the work of a uniformed anthropologist toting a gun in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Part of a Human Terrain Team (HHT) – the first ever deployed – she speaks to hundreds of Afghan men and women to learn how they think and what they need.
Finding ways to challenge that fear – and learn what makes Afghans choose to support the government or its enemies – is the job of the HTT. The key ingredient is a “senior cultural analyst,” in this case, Tracy, the anthropologist in uniform.
She has interviewed hundreds of Afghan women and men, sometimes for hours on end, hearing how most are “so tired of war.” In nine months, Tracy has gained deep knowledge, she says, aimed at helping “fill the vacuum that the Taliban and other nefarious actors want to fill.”
Tracy tells Afghans that she wants to “enhance the military’s understanding of the culture so we don’t make mistakes like in Iraq.” But the bar is high, and this village with the medical clinic shows signs of militant influence, such as being “coached.”
Still, Tracy says that she sees real progress, “one Afghan at a time.” And the US military’s views are evolving accordingly, away from firepower to a smarter counterinsurgency.
“It may be one less trigger that has to be pulled here,” Tracy says of the result. “It’s how we gain ground, not tangible ground, but cognitive ground. Small things can have a big impact.