• 04.07.14

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[Photo: Reinhard Hunger for Fast Company]

Chat With Fast Company Writer E.B. Boyd On The Logistics, The Cost, And The Dangers Of Getting America Out Of Afghanistan

Getting all of America's stuff out of Afghanistan was one heck of a challenge. Join Fast Company executive editor Noah Robischon as he chats with E.B. Boyd, who accompanied three American convoys charged with getting all our gear out of the country. The event will begin at 12 p.m. EST on Friday February 6th, but you can start submitting your questions now using the "Make a comment" box below.

The war in Afghanistan was the U.S.’s longest war ever. It lasted 13 years. Packing it up, consequently, also took a long time: three years and tens of billions of dollars.

Fast Company writer E.B. Boyd got the idea for her recent feature story on what it takes to shut down a war after soldiers told her how huge some of the bases over in Afghanistan were. When the U.S. packed up the war in Iraq, there were plenty of news stories about troops coming home--but not as many about what we were doing with all the stuff we'd brought over with us. So Boyd decided to head to Afghanistan to find out what happened to all that gear.

Boyd spent 2.5 months on the ground. She was was embedded on tiny outposts where infantry companies were preparing to hand their places over to the Afghan army, and on a smaller forward operating base that was both shutting down and continuing to fight—an unprecedented level of complexity for an army that had never packed up a war while fighting was still going on. She also went to larger bases like FOB Shank and Bagram Airfield, where the military was simply trying to get a handle on how much stuff we even had there. She traveled with convoys that had to be treated like combat operations and sat through rocket attacks on forward operating bases.

One of the things she discovered along the way was that the military as an institution didn’t necessarily think about shutting down a theater as strategically as it thought about fighting and winning a war. She found this surprising, considering what a huge operation Afghanistan was. But then again, it wasn’t surprising at all. Every organization, large or small, has functional areas it spends more energy on and areas on which it spends less. In this way, the military turned out to be not much different from organizations in the private sector.

On Friday, February 6th at 12 p.m. ET, Boyd and Fast Company executive editor Noah Robischon will join us here to discuss Boyd's story and the incredible logistics behind America's withdrawal from Afghanistan. Join the conversation. Feel free to ask her anything: questions about the story itself, questions about what was involved in packing up, questions about what it’s like to embed with the military or spend time in a war zone. Were you involved with the process of getting our stuff out of the country? We want to hear from you! You can start submitting your questions and comments now using the "Make a comment" box below.

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