Via Kevin Drum, a press release about an article in the New Yorker. With a title like “Can Social Scientists Redefine the War on Terror?” it seems right up our alley. (See previous posts on the topic here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) In the New Yorker article George Packer talks to “a remarkable theorist named David Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist who is also a lieutenant colonel in his country’s Army and the chief strategist in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coördinator [sic] for Counterterrorism.” There isn’t much saying what makes Kilcullen so “remarkable” except for his willingness to actively work for the military, but it seems he isn’t the only one:
Anthropologists and former military officers in the Pentagon are currently working on a new project called “Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain,” which is recruiting social scientists around the country to join five-person “human terrain” teams that would go to Iraq and Afghanistan with combat brigades and serve as cultural advisers on six-to-nine-month tours. Pilot teams are planning to leave next spring.
You can read some of Kilcullen’s papers here. I wonder if any of the anthropologists engaged with the military on these missions would be willing to blog about their experiences?
UPDATE: The full article is now available online.