Course Correction: My Term at Afghanistan's Graduate School of War
Camp Julien is surrounded by reminders of Afghanistan’s past. The coalition military base— which sits in the hills south of Kabul, just high enough to rise above the thick cloud of smog that perpetually blankets the city—is flanked by two European-style palaces built in the 1920s by the modernizing King Amanullah. Home to Soviet troops and mujahedin during the past decades of war, the now-crumbling palaces are littered with bullet holes and decorated with graffiti in multiple languages. Uphill from Julien is the old Russian officers’ club, dating from the Soviet invasion and featuring a recently refilled swimming pool that overlooks the southern half of the city. The pool is said to have been the site of executions in the 1990s; the condemned were apparently shot off the diving board. The project underway at Camp Julien aims to help the United States and its allies succeed where King Amanullah, the Russians, and even the mujahedin failed. Julien is home to the Counterinsurgency Training Center–Afghanistan, where U.S. and coalition forces are trying to teach themselves and Afghans how to fight a different kind of war.