Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More than nation building, DOD's now in the prospecting biz

It seems the U.S. military and other government agencies have a newly expanded mission in Afghanistan. According to the Department of Defense website, there's a DOD task force charged with helping the Afghans prospect for natural resources:

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012 – Officials from the Defense Department and the U.S. Geological Survey gathered this month at Afghanistan’s U.S. Embassy to unveil what the director of a DOD task force called a “treasure map” of the nation’s mineral resources. 
At the event, James Bullion of the Defense Department’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, or TFBSO, shared the podium with USGS Director Marcia McNutt, who described a new remote-sensing technology that has made it possible, for the first time, she said, to map more than 70 percent of the country’s surface and identify potential high-value deposits of copper, gold, iron, and other minerals. 
DOD officials and USGS scientists work as partners in this initiative with the Afghanistan government and scientists and engineers from the Afghan Ministry of Mines and the Afghan Geological Survey. 
“The task force is a Defense Department organization charged to help spur and grow the private-sector economy in Afghanistan, … and clearly, the mineral and oil and gas extractive areas are critical to that effort,” Bullion said.
In reading through the whole article, maybe it's not so new. Just under reported.

Should international economic development really be a mission of the DOD?  Seems to me this only hands a propaganda bonanza to our enemies who consistently claim U.S. military adventurism is primarily a function of grabbing wealth and resources.

Something else gives me a chill about the concepts presented here.

We're using U.S. defense (and other government) funding to help Afghans exploit their natural resources while, at the same time, our government makes it increasingly harder for American industry to get access to our own natural resources here at home.

Our government is moving in some very odd directions.

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