If you ever wanted to be a cowboy, it's nothing but wearing a broad-brimmed hat, carrying a rifle, and looking after critters.
U.S. Army Sfc. J. Marco Jackson, with the 350th Civil Affairs Command out of Pensacola, Fla., prepares to give a cow deworming solution during a veterinary civic action program at a displaced persons camp in Te Tugu, Uganda, Jan. 23, 2008. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacqueline Kabluyen
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but veterinary efforts are a tremendously important part of the GWOT. It's not just about winning the support of a population that loves their animals: it's about giving people a capacity to survive outside of the control of fighting factions. Animals are the foundation of agriculture, plowing fields and providing fertilizer as well as food; and in the Third World, even industry often relies on beasts of burden to shift its loads.
In a lot of the world, the only jobs that will reliably support your family are government jobs. When that is the case, the question of who controls government monies is worth killing for: your family's future depends on it. Even if you'd rather just live a peaceful life, you get drawn into political conflicts because there is no alternative. You've got to fight to put your faction in control, or your kids won't eat.
When private business becomes capable of supporting peoples' families, the recruiting pool for terrorists and guerillas drops sharply. The recruiting pool for militias drops. Failed and failing states, which Secretary Gates cited as a chief danger facing America in this week's testimony before Congress, those states become less of a problem. People can stand on their own.
Thomas Jefferson said that "yeoman farmers" were the foundation of a successful, peaceful nation -- and that goes not just for the "yeoman" who owns his own farm, but the guy who owns his own small business. Build that up, and a great deal follows.