First Platoon: A Story of Modern War in the Age of Identity Dominance
In Afghanistan, American troops have been engaged in a protracted battle against the Taliban since 2001. As time has passed, personnel have come and gone, progress made, and then squandered, while technology has further leveled the playing field. As the Global War on Terror has lingered, surveillance methods have exponentially increased. In 2012, members of First Platoon captured a key Taliban leader with the aid of biometric screening. The possibilities of utilizing DNA for the identification of opposition forces proved too good to pass up. This method of detection progressed from the criminal justice field to the unsettled region of Afghanistan. However, the possibilities of the invasive methods of DNA screening and threats to liberty loom large as authorities begin to utilize these practices stateside.
The War on Terror has never appeared as Orwellian as described by Annie Jacobsen. Jacobsen (“Area 51”, “The Pentagon’s Brain) deftly relates the evolution of detecting high-value targets in terrorism but also the harrowing events that tore at the soul of the First Platoon fighting in Afghanistan. This fascinating book functions as modern history but also a cautionary tale about the heavily gray area of the War on Terror and its tactics. This is grade A Journalism.
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