Army Deploys Anthropologists on Front Lines

Uncle Sam enlists social scientists; colleagues object
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 11:53 AM CST
An Afghan National Army soldier tries to control Afghan men who wait for food to be distributed during the Shoura or conference of tribal elders, in Charbaron, eastern Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov 18, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The US military has been employing anthropologists in Iraq and Afghanistan to help troops work more effectively with locals. The results have been so promising they've just launched a $40 million program to embed social scientists with all 26 combat brigades. But the response back home has been ugly, with academics accusing their colleagues of compromising their integrity, and threatening to throw them out of their professional society, reports Time.

At a rancorous recent meeting of the anthropologists' association, some were attacked for abetting violent counter-insurgencies, and called "torture-deniers" and "war criminals," Time notes. A Navy expert defends the program as anthropologizing the military, not militarizing anthropology. But it’s difficult “to be loyal to two communities,” admits another.