By request: So you’re heading to Afghanistan?
A reader deploying to Afghanistan asks that I re-post the Afghan primer I carried back in December, when this blog was brand new, and no one read it. The primer was a note I’d written to a Marine intelligence officer I know who was heading to southern Afghanistan. Here you go: Not only are you ...
A reader deploying to Afghanistan asks that I re-post the Afghan primer I carried back in December, when this blog was brand new, and no one read it. The primer was a note I’d written to a Marine intelligence officer I know who was heading to southern Afghanistan.
Here you go:
Not only are you living in interesting times, you got yourself an interesting job for those times.
Here are a few preliminary thoughts:
- Best books on the last couple of decades in Afghanistan: Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars and Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban. (I haven’t read Rashid’s more recent Descent into Chaos, but he is a very good journalist, so it is probably worthwhile.)
- Best books on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan: Grau’s The Bear Went Over the Mountain and The Other Side of the Mountain — the latter is muj tactics during that war.
- Best overall introduction to Afghanistan: Louis Dupree’s ‘Afghanistan’ (more an encyclopedia than a narrative, but well worth your time for someone in your position — everything from geography to poetry).
Two fun reads:
- Peter Hopkirk’s ‘The Great Game’ (about the British vs. the Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries)
- James Michener’s ‘Caravans’ (no joke–considering that mission you are taking!) — and as I recall quite a lot of it takes place in the area where you will be.
Here is some other stuff you may find helpful:
- naval postgraduate school website on Afghanistan–everything from where poppies grow to an ‘introduction to afghanistan’:
- Another good website on afghanistan — guys reads and posts a lot of relevant academic work (how tribes in afghanistan work, where power resides, etc), and also tracks military bloggers he thinks know something: http://easterncampaign.wordpress.com/
- Naval postgraduate school electronic publication ‘strategic insights,’ good for commentary on Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, counterinsurgency — but is definitely strategic, not tactical: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/archiveDate.asp
- Good overall website on Afghanistan:http://afghanistan-analyst.org/default.aspx
- Map of afghanistan:http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/afghanistan_pol_93.jpg
- Maps of kabul: http://www.unomaha.edu/afghanistan_atlas/maps3.html
AFGHANISTAN: A Country Study By library of congress: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/aftoc.html