The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology


Civilianization of the US Military in the Era of Counterinsurgency: Problems and Prospects for Applied Anthropology

Adalric Hilliard Tuten

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq brought controversies regarding anthropological involvement with the US military to the forefront. These controversies stem from the US military‘s adoption of counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in the mid-2000s, as a means to overcome stalling efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. One major result of the transition to COIN was emphasis on civilianization of military operations, thereby generating employment of social scientists, including anthropologists. Consequently, some anthropologists, most notably Roberto González, challenged this practice as being ethically and scientifically inappropriate. Yet, as this commentary suggests, the issue is not simply one-sided. This is because of the complexity of warfare in the 21st century, a complexity that complicates straightforward assessments about the role of social science in US military efforts. In sum, not all types of anthropological involvement with the military are negative.

The Applied Anthropologist, No. 1, Vol. 31, 2011, pp 37 - 41

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