View Full Version : Author teaches Marines about Afghanistan

07-11-08, 06:53 AM
Author teaches Marines about Afghanistan
Pfc. Jeffrey Cordero

CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa (July 11, 2008) -- Author Sarah Chayes visited Okinawa June 25-July 3 to speak with Marines at several Marine Corps installations about the culture, geographical features and social groups of Afghanistan.

Chayes, who wrote "The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban," visited Okinawa to help Marines better understand the people of Afghanistan.

"(Everyone) is either a potential ally or enemy," Chayes said.

With the right tools, people can become allies, she said.

Chayes spoke in detail about the interactions between local governments, the local community and even the American military presence in Afghanistan.

She explained how each affects the other and how each group perceives current conditions, adding that popularity in Afghanistan is largely determined by how people treat each other.

"You need to focus on what's going on in the community," Chayes said.

By contributing to the community, an individual can gain support from the people, she added.

Chayes spoke about Afghan social groups Marines may encounter while deployed to Afghanistan, and how the war is fought on a "different kind of battlefield."

"Not only is it a war in the traditional sense, but it's about how interaction with the population affects the success of operations."

Chayes also spoke about geographical features such as the Durand line - the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan established by treaty in the late 1800's.

Many Afghans believe the treaty expired after 100 years, but she verified that it did not.

Lt. Col. Ted A. Adams, the division training officer for 3rd MarDiv said Chayes provided useful information into the background and culture of the Afghan people.

"(The professional military education brief) was a way to provide a well rounded perspective of Afghanistan to the Marines," he said.

Chayes' visit was funded by the Marine Corps University Foundation and coordinated to support the 3rd MarDiv commanding general's focus on getting more education about Afghanistan to the Marines, Adams said.