But it’s likely to be one of the first:
As Congressional Democrats pushed for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”–clearing the way for gays to serve openly in the U.S. military–allied forces were encountering problems with homosexual conduct among members of the Afghan security forces.
A source at Army Special Operations command tells In From the Cold that Afghan women, emboldened by the presence of U.S. troops. have complained about beatings they’ve suffered at the hands of their husbands. The domestic violence reportedly stemmed from the inability of the women to become pregnant and produce sons, highly valued in Afghan society.
When U.S. civil affairs teams (and other special forces units) quietly investigated the problem, they quickly discovered a common denominator. Virtually all of the younger men who beat their wives (over their inability to become pregnant) had been former “apprentices” of older Afghan men, who used them for their sexual pleasure. Upon entering marriage, whatever the men knew of sex had been learned during their “apprenticeship,” at the hands of the older man. To put it bluntly, some of the younger Afghans were unfamiliar with the desired (and required) mechanics for contraception.
To remedy this situation, the Army called in its psychological operations teams, which developed information campaigns in Pashtun areas, explaining the basics of heterosexual relations and their benefits, in terms of producing male offspring. It may be the only time in the history of warfare that an army has been required to explain sex to the native population, to curb the abuse of women and young boys–and retain U.S. influence in key geographic areas.
Army psy op specialists declined to discuss their efforts in great detail. But one of the “preferred sex” campaigns was (reportedly) a direct result of the 2009 survey, and the problems encountered by NATO troops working with their Afghan counterparts.
While no one in Kabul (or the Pentagon) will admit it, the recent repeal of DADT may complicate the “sex ed” mission in Afghanistan. From the western perspective, there is a difference between relations among consenting, adult members of the same military, and young boys being traded into sexual bondage with older men. But the Afghans don’t see it that way–and that may lead to problems down the road.
Inculcating the notion that homosexuality is normal and simply yet another way of living out one’s sexuality in the military is going to be problematic in a variety of ways as others will attest but here you have one very tactical and real issue that we will now have to counter… and doing so has just been made quite complicated.
There’s a price to be paid when the moral fences of society are taken down.
H/T to Dennis Sevakis via email.