American Elephants

Getting to Know the People of Afghanistan. by The Elephant's Child
January 12, 2010, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Heartwarming, Military, National Security, News | Tags: , ,

The American military in Afghanistan is intent on protecting the Afghan people. To win the confidence of the people and get their cooperation, the people must feel safe.

According to a new BBC poll, Afghans are much more likely than Americans to think that their country is on the right track (70% approval).  They think more highly of their President Karzai ( 72% approval) than Americans do of President Obama.  And they really don’t like the Taliban, 90% prefer their present government over the Taliban.  And 68% say they support the presence of American troops.

Afghanistan has many tiny villages in hard to get-to places, so it’s hard to know how representative such a poll is, but the results are better than one might expect.

The Weekly Standard has a most interesting article on the military’s move to engage the people of Afghanistan.  An important innovation are the Human Terrain Teams (HTTs).  These teams consist of five to nine civilians with military, intelligence, or social-science expertise, analytical skill, and cross-cultural training.  The teams are embedded with units in the field, and ideally, each team includes at least one Afghan-American, one or more women, and a PhD-level social scientist.

Their mission is to “fill the socio-cultural knowledge gap” in ways that are valuable to the soldiers they advise.  They are specially charged with helping devise non-lethal approaches to improving security in a given place.  These are not civil affairs units, off building schools and digging wells, but eyes and ears for the military officers who plan and lead operations.

HTTs are to learn all they can about the people among whom their units operate — their tribal background and power structures and livelihood, their recent experiences with local government and with Kabul, their contacts with the Taliban and warlords and coalition forces, and any matters of special concern to the commander.  They do this by developing personal relationships in the surrounding communities and systematically interviewing Afghans.  As they go, they are to analyze their findings and then package them in forms digestible by soldiers.

The article explains the rationale for the innovation, and the training the teams receive before they deploy.  It’s very encouraging, and will give you a much better understanding of the military’s mission in Afghanistan.

Support Scott Brown for U.S. Senate! by American Elephant
January 12, 2010, 5:30 am
Filed under: Health Care, News, Politics | Tags: ,

Things are looking better and better for Republican Scott Brown in his bid to become the next United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a special election next Tuesday to replace the man we loving refer to as Kopechne’s Bane.

First, he was endorsed by the Boston Herald Newspaper. Then picked up the endorsements of several former New England Patriots (not a big whoop, but a little whoop). Most importantly, he turned in a stellar performance against his Democrat rival in the debates last night, which were broadcast on multiple channels throughout the Bay State. You can watch the full debate here,  but Scott got in the best sound-bite of the evening, slapping-down not his opponent, but hopelessly biased moderator, David Gergen:

At a time when Democrats in Washington are running roughshod over the unhappy American people, and the state Democrat Party is  fraught with corruption, that refreshing declaration is sure to resonate with voters.

And oh yeah, he raised over $1.3 MILLION dollars in ONE DAY. More than twice the amount he set out to raise.

If you ask me, a big upset is in the works in supposedly entrenched liberal Massachusetts. Democrats underestimate how angry the American people are with them, their unpopular agenda and their despicable tactics; while Republicans overestimate the attachment of those Bay Staters to the Democrat party.

Contrary to popular opinion, a Republican can win statewide elected office in Massachusetts. Brown may have an up-Bunker-Hill battle, but he can do it. Mitt Romney, lest anyone forget, was that state’s governor just three years ago.

Remember, New Jersey was supposed to be unswervingly liberal too. Tell that to Republican Governor-Elect, Chris Christie.

Help him if you can. You do NOT have to be from Massachusetts to help. Everyone can DONATE HERE.  If you are from MA, you can VOLUNTEER HERE. Or you can volunteer HERE if you live outside the state. Outsiders can make phone calls from where ever you live, or if you can travel to the state to help, the campaign will pay for your food and hotel.

More to come….

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