In this section, I chronicle my training and deployment experiences in the war zone as a senior Social Scientist embedded with the U.S. military. As an American with Afghan roots, this was a life-changing experience on so many levels – a momentous opportunity to help my adopted country understand my birth land. I spent a year in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), where I assisted the U.S. Army and its Allied Forces make sense of the country’s social, political, economic, and military systems. In turn, I learned a lot about human relations on and off the battlefield, the implications and consequences of war, and myself.
When I share this experience with people, among other questions, the two I’m most frequently asked are: “So how was it?” and “When are you writing that book?” The answer to the first question leaves me dumbfounded because it doesn’t have a simple answer. The second question often leaves me chuckling because I – as the person who experienced it – don’t always think it’s that interesting, but everyone else adamantly disagrees.
So for now, in lieu of that book, I’m piecing together journal entries and the notes I took during training to share the most salient experiences. And because I don’t want to end up in a Federal penitentiary like Leavenworth, everything I discuss is UNCLASSIFIED. Also, I’m only using first names, and have changed some to maintain anonymity when I haven’t been able to obtain permission to use real identities.
Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Check out the posts in this section…
- Research In A War Zone: Operational Variables & Civil Considerations01APR2011. As mentioned in my previous posts, the Army is all about processes, detailed in a slew of publications ranging from administrative, technical and equipment, … Read more
- Language & Culture: The Challenges of Translation31MAR2011. The first lecture of the language and culture training block consisted of a brief history of some of the wars in Afghanistan interlaced with … Read more
- There’s Definitely No “I” In A Military “Team”30MAR2011. Before our first language class (which I really looked forward to…seriously I did), we were going to delve into team dynamics. This seemed appropriate … Read more
- The Military & The American Way of War29MAR2011. Having been exposed to what was expected of us as part of the Human Terrain System (HTS), or as part of a research team … Read more
- The Cultural Turn Had Taken Hold28MAR2011. Once the bulk of training on personnel matters had come to an end, and the process of transitioning from a contractor to a Department … Read more
- The Teacher Becomes A Student25MAR2011. Did I mention that I was teaching courses while going through training? I’d made a commitment to the university to teach another year (Sep … Read more
- Army Training (But Not Bill Murray In “Stripes”)21MAR2011. I was up before my alarm clock went off (0500), and since the anticipation of the first day loomed, I jumped out of bed. … Read more
- Meet & Greet of Fellow Grunts, Plus Onboarding20MAR2011. I set two alarms to ensure I’d be up on time. And even with that assurance, I tossed and turned all night, checking the … Read more
- I’m Not In Kansas Anymore!19MAR2011. If someone told me that I’d be moving AGAIN a few months after uprooting my entire life from Northern California (SF Bay Area, to … Read more
- The Position Is Located Where?!?!?07FEB2011. Since I’m chronicling my training and deployment experiences, it makes sense (at least to me) to start from the beginning. The following is the … Read more