From the fairly-new-to-me blog abu muqawama, comes this link to an editorial by David Rohde in the Oct. 5th edition of the New York Times. In which, Mr. Rohde examines the US Army's inclusion of academic anthropologists into the 82 Airborne's operations in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan.
Initial reports are that this embedding of academics with warriors has produced several early success's that would have eluded the traditional responses military doctrine prescribes. Which in turn allows the soldiers to concentrate their efforts more accurately, while their involvement in the process encourages further cooperation from local Afghan citizens.
Hearts and minds operations aren't new to the Army by any means; what is new is the acceptance of such operations by senior command staff and the melding of such non-traditional military responses into official combat doctrine. In the past, such "experiments" have ultimately fallen to the wayside in post-combat draw downs of forces during that semi-mythical period known as "peacetime".
Mr. Rohde notes the presence of academic resistance to their professional inclusion into military operations without delving into the underlying motivations driving this resistance. I confess that I am not hopeful that that argument will receive as evenhanded an airing as Mr. Rohde has begun, but am willing to leave that battle for another time. I am eager to watch how the US military further incorporates these non-traditional opportunities into their arsenal.
Now, if Abu Muqawama would just lighten up on the RA knee jerk response to intellectual stimulation, his own work would be improved, I think. Nonetheless, his is a page to check regularly.