The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice

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Applied anthropology -- Afghanistan. Anthropologists -- United States -- Biography.


Applied anthropology -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States. Social sciences -- Research -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States. Enter a search term Clear search. So this is on the level of not offending people unnecessarily. There's a whole other level of kind of information gathering that this particular program was designed to address, which is connected to that, which is that if you - if the first thing you do is to not understand someone's language, not understand a person's customs, commit these breaches of etiquette, and then you begin to say, well, where are the Taliban, the likelihood is that that person's not going to take you seriously, not going to talk to you, not going to trust you.

There are all these ways in which these two kinds of information-gathering or cultural intelligence are related - cultural knowledge and cultural intelligence. Why wouldn't we want the U.

They felt that anthropologists were supposed to be morally and politically responsive to the people that they were observing, not to the military that might then kill some of those people when they discovered who's who. Into this picture comes Montgomery McFate. What a fascinating woman she is.


Tell us a little more about her. She's an anthropologist, trained as a cultural anthropologist, had a very interesting, chaotic childhood; grew up in a houseboat community near San Francisco and sort of lived a wild life as a young person; but very, very smart, very good at school and was really stabilized by her success in her school; did her undergraduate work at Berkeley and then went to Yale to get her Ph. She did do a dissertation for her Ph. So she was already thinking about issues around conflict and war and also the relationship between anthropology and intelligence, which is something that is kind of off-limits, at least in academic anthropology, to talk about.

And she was really frustrated by that. She went to law school, and then she actually got married to an Army captain and started to think really hard as she became more a part of this military world about how what she know about anthropology could help a military that she thought was making all kinds of mistakes, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Again incredibly well-intentioned, thinking maybe I could save lives of Afghans, Iraqis and Americans if everybody better understood everybody else. But tell us more about - isn't all anthropology intelligence? The question is whether or not an anthropologist should actually work with the military because they could certainly go take your book out of the library. GEZARI: Well, that's something I think McFate would really agree with, that all anthropology in some way can at least be used for whatever purposes the military wants to put it to. And it has been used that way historically, as she was at pains to point out in lots of articles that she wrote during the time she was building up this program.

But, you know, anthropologists would say what we do is very different. The reasons that we're gathering this information - we're not gathering this for operational reasons, and their research is often directed at asking and answering vastly different kinds of questions.

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So it's sort of a case of can all anthropology be used for intelligence, perhaps; but are anthropology and intelligence the same thing, not exactly. YOUNG: Well, and another thing is that anthropologists in the field, instead of in a book, can be misconstrued as military and can be killed, as Paula Lloyd was on one of the teams that Montgomery McFate created.

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Up next, Vanessa Gezari will tell us Paula Lloyd's. But as we heard before the break, many anthropologists were worried that they would be seen as spies for the military or be killed. We reported on the death of anthropologist Paula Lloyd. A young Afghan man she was speaking with doused her with fuel, set her on fire. Her Reserve unit was called up, deployed to Kandahar. In many ways she was just the person the military needed. She, as you mentioned, had an undergraduate degree in anthropology.

The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice

She had served as a soldier in Afghanistan and had worked in civil affairs there, which is the military reserve unit that does nation-building when the military acknowledges doing that, which it does more and more. So she had a lot of experience working with people in southern Afghanistan and working specifically on aid and development-related things with them through the military. She then spent several years working with NGOs and development organizations in Afghanistan.

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And one of the reasons that I wanted to write about her is that their team, which was the first to go into southern Afghanistan, the first Human Terrain Team to work in that part of the country, which is the heartland of the Taliban, their team in some ways represented a best-case scenario, I think, for some of the kinds of experience and background of people you could get in a program like this.

YOUNG: Well, you're one of the few journalists who's been able to talk to the people behind the Human Terrain teams, the people that were on her team. You also retraced the team's steps, went to that village, went to that spot where she was doused, where her attacker was assassinated. And even you - it's still hard to put together the story of what happened because this is exactly why the military wanted anthropologists. People will accuse others of being Taliban when they're not, maybe they're just settling a score.

You have people who are corrupt. It's as if everyone you spoke to, it's that old proverb, had their hand on a different part of the elephant, and it was very hard to figure out exactly what had happened and why. And one of the things I really wanted to do in this book and one of the reasons I wrote it the way I did was I wanted to make the reader feel just how complicated and confusing that situation is and to imagine being, you know, a soldier or an aid worker or a member of one of these teams trying to figure out what's really going on in this place.

I mean in the - in one of the chapters in the book I take the reader through a series of interviews in which a number of people tell contradictory stories about why that man attacked Paula Lloyd that day. Some readers might find that confusing, like why did I put in all of these different stories and these different accounts that give different reasons for why he behaved the way he did.

Well, I did it because that's at the very heart of why the military thought it needed these teams and perhaps what people can contribute who don't come into a situation thinking like a soldier but more come into thinking like a reader or an interpreter of stories. Children's Classics. Coaldrake's Bookshop. Collins Booksellers Pty Ltd. Constant Reader Bookshop. Electric Shadows.

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