Retired Army Maj. Jason C. Howk returned to the Society of Skeptics on November 6 to discuss “Afghanistan: America’s Longest War.” During his Army service (1991-2015), Mr. Howk spent several years in Afghanistan and worked extensively with the State Department, intelligence agencies, academia and international diplomats on Afghan issues. Now an author, teacher and speaker, he shared insight into the history of relations among the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the cause and progress of the war. In addition, Mr. Howk examined the war’s future and the key issues that will affect its outcome. His presentation took place in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.
Mr. Howk began his military service as an enlisted paratrooper; upon earning his commission in 2000, he served the balance of his career as an engineer officer and foreign area officer. During two tours in Afghanistan, as aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Karl Eikenberry (2002-2003), aide-de-camp to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and military assistant to Sir Graeme Lamb (2009-2010), he was involved in building the Afghan national army, guiding the Afghan Security Sector Reform program and developing the Afghan Peace, Reintegration and Reconciliation program. As a South Asia foreign area officer from 2011 to 2013, he led high-level government and civilian teams focused on the Afghan and Pakistan regions.
Mr. Howk holds a master’s degree in Middle East and South Asia security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School and studied Dari (Afghan Farsi) and Arabic at the Defense Language Institute. A Malone Fellow in Arab and Islamic Studies and former term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, he has authored numerous scholarly and professional articles, and his books include Lions in the Path of Stability and Security: Oman’s Response to Pressing Issues in the Middle East and The Qur’an: A Chronological Modern English Interpretation. He serves as a mentor and advisor to young people who are interested in careers in defense, diplomacy and intelligence.
During his two previous Skeptics presentations, Mr. Howk shared his extensive knowledge of Islam and of the Qur’an. He enjoyed returning to Blair to delve more deeply into the war in Afghanistan, as he has been involved in it as a service member or as an advisor to military and diplomatic leaders since 2002. “I hoped to give students a better understanding of the war, including why we are there and how we will finish it based on the current strategy,” Mr. Howk said. “This war has affected the Blair family and will likely individually impact every student in some way over the next decade.”
The History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.