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Soldier / Geek: An Army Science Advisor's Journal of the War in Afghanistan Paperback – February 26, 2012
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From the Author
In March of 2009 I deployed to Afghanistan, where as an Army Major I served as the Science & Technology Advisor to the staffs of Combined/Joint Task Force-101 and Combined/Joint Task Force-82. Based out of Bagram Air Base some 50 kilometers north of the Afghan capital of Kabul, my team's mission was to provide science and technology support to the Task Force, helping to identify critical capability gaps where the application of new technology might provide an advantage to our forces, or exploit some weakness of our enemy. During our tour of duty I was able to travel through much of our sector in eastern Afghanistan, known as Regional Command-East, meeting with soldiers and their commanders to find out what their challenges and needs were, then communicating with the thousands of Army and other service scientists and engineers back in the US to see what kind of solutions they could provide, and ultimately try to get that new technology accelerated into the combat zone.
This book is built on the journal that I kept to document my experiences, both those personal experiences as a deployed soldier in a combat zone, and those that were specific to my particular posting. My experience is not unique - there are other uniformed science advisors serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere today - but it is different from many other wartime memoirs. This is not a story of combat, per se, but rather one of supporting and enabling combat. Few soldiers ever really understand how their equipment is identified, developed, and delivered to them. Though the press prints reams of words on various Department of Defense modernization initiatives and military programs, few outside of the DOD understand how that process works in the combat theater.
I have two purposes in sharing my team's experiences. First, I'd like to share the experiences of deployed soldiers to help those who haven't served better understand those of us who volunteer our service, hopefully providing a more personal connection to the military and the war in Afghanistan than watching the evening news. Second, through my own story I'd like to help document some of the history of the Army's Science & Technology Advisory Teams, and give soldiers and civilians alike a better idea of some of the ways we go about getting technology in the hands of soldiers. In doing so, I hope to be able to provide a different perspective on the uniquely materiel-driven machine that is the American way of war.
As a personal journal, my notes are a frank recording of what occurred on a daily or weekly basis during my deployment. I have added commentary on the individual journal entries to help fill in some of the gaps, and where possible better translate my experiences to a broader audience. Enough time has passed that the information here should be neither current nor exploitable, though I have chosen to remain vague in some areas to ensure that that remains the case. Many of my observations were shared with my family as emails home at the time, and I was careful not to put too much detail into my letters so that I would not reveal anything potentially compromising that might put me and my fellow soldiers at risk. This work contains no classified information; I have also disguised the names of most of those soldiers referenced in my journal, to protect their privacy. Otherwise, the words and emotions recorded in the journal entries remain unchanged from when I originally wrote them in theater.
About the Author
Glenn Dean was commissioned as an Armor officer through the Army ROTC program at the Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was subsequently assigned to operational Armor and Cavalry assignments in the 24th Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division, and the 1st Cavalry Division, as well as a tour in Recruiting Command. After completing graduate work in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he transitioned to the Army Acquisition career field. He currently works in weapons systems development and has worked in combat development, program management, and technology development in the fields of small arms, medium caliber cannons, ammunition, and combat vehicles.
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Just glad this guy is on our side...