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
Thomas E. Ricks is a former contributing editor to Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tomricks1
More from Foreign Policy
Chinese Hospitals Are Housing Another Deadly Outbreak
Authorities are covering up the spread of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia.
Henry Kissinger, Colossus on the World Stage
The late statesman was a master of realpolitik—whom some regarded as a war criminal.
The West’s False Choice in Ukraine
The crossroads is not between war and compromise, but between victory and defeat.
Washington wants to get tough on China, and the leaders of the House China Committee are in the driver’s seat.