Soldier / Geek: An Army Science Advisor's Journal of the War in Afghanistan

Rated 4.00/5 based on 2 reviews
In 2009, an Army Major deployed a small team of specialists to Afghanistan to identify new technologies needed to fight the war. Braving rockets and IEDs, fighting the Army bureaucracy more than the enemy, this small team worked to improve everything from robots to mine-resistant trucks, boots, and parachutes. This is their story, from the team leader's journal. More

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About Glenn Dean

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.


The Great Robot ELevator
One of the chapters in Soldier / Geek talks about the Robot Deployment System (aka the Great Robot Elevator), for deploying EOD robots from MRAP vehicles without leaving the vehicle. Here's a video of it in action.

The Konar River Valley
Here's some video footage from a UH-60 departing FOB Bostick in the northern Konar river valley, discussed in the chapter on Nuristan in Soldier/Geek. It gives a great feel for the mountains of Afghanistan, plus you can see some attack helicopters on the ramp. More video at

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Review by: killie81 on June 5, 2013 :
“Soldier / Geek” is an edited version of Army Major Glenn Dean’s journal he wrote during his time spent out in Afghanistan in 2009. Dean’s job in Afghanistan was basically to go out and liaise with the soldiers out there and identify both new technologies and improvements that could help them fight the war. During his six month tour he travelled to remote bases, encountered various people and worked the Army bureaucracy to try and get things moving in a way that would help in getting equipment into the field.

I found this book to be a very interesting read, with Dean relating his time in Afghanistan via both his work related tasks and the more mundane day to day activities. Dean saw no combat during his tour so the book doesn’t go into any detailed military actions but at the same time it was still an eye opening experience to read about and understand some of the behind the scenes work that goes on in the military, especially during combat operations.

One thing I really appreciated with the journal were the various additional editorial comments that worked well in both helping to translate some of the military speak and giving the reader a little bit more information on the situation being detailed. It just ensured that the reader could understand the contexts of what was occurring and how things have changed or at times haven’t since then.

As someone that works in the defence industry I found various aspects of the story rather enlightening on a personal note. For example seeing the logistical maze that needed to be worked through to get equipment out to the field highlighted to me about why at times things seem to take so long for ourselves when dealing with the military/government. In addition, on a lighter note I couldn’t help but smile as I got to see the similarity between the company I work for and the military in regards to the truly ridiculous quantity of acronyms that are used. I am glad Dean included a reference section at the back of the novel as I did find myself having to use it quite a lot.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this journal and as someone who works in the defence industry I personally found it both interesting and informative but I don’t think its appeal will be limited to just people in my line of work. If you are interested in current affairs, technology or the military then there is probably something in this book that you will find enjoyable.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
Review by: Chris Gerrib on April 16, 2012 :
In 2009, Army Major Glenn Dean deployed to Afghanistan. His job was to represent an alphabet-soup of Army commands charged with developing and fielding weapons for soldiers. Dean would spend six months in Afghanistan, traveling to various remote bases and seeing how well (or how poorly) our equipment was working, and what other equipment was needed. While he was deployed, he kept a journal.

Soldier / Geek is Dean’s journal, with some editorial effort made to translate Army-speak into standard English, as well as some editorial comments about problems he identified at the time. I found it a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it to anybody interested in current affairs. Dean tells his story simply, in chronological order, outlining what happened where. He did not see combat during his tour, despite a number of trips “outside the wire” to where the fighting was occurring. Despite that, I found Soldier / Geek a very interesting book.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)

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