I just read an interesting piece in this month’s Geo Magazine about the U.S. Army’s HTS (Human Terrain System) program in Afghanistan. The HTS recruits ethnologists and sociologists and brings them to the war theatre to better understand the tribal cultures of Afghanistan.
Somebody figured out after four years (the HTS started in 2006) that it might be useful to listen to and learn from the people there what is important for them, what motivates them, how do they earn their living, what they want and what they need. Turns out it unravels actual insights into Pashtun communities, helps to understand why some sympathize with the Taliban and how to win them back.
However, the most intriguing quote for me was this one:
Many civilian ethnologists complain that their colleagues in combat carry guns. This would contradict the scientific rule not to put opposites under pressure. These scientists obviously have never been in Afghanistan. A gun is the last thing that would intimidate a Pashtun. Instead, he will consider someone not carrying a gun a freak.