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"Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 1512
The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents: "Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan" A book talk from Captain Matt Zeller United States Army Reserve (Ret.) Abstract: Matt Zeller was an embedded combat adviser with the Afghan security forces in 2008 and his book, Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan, provides a vivid, real-time picture of what it is like to serve our country in war. Watches Without Time has already received high praise from prominent figures in the field of national security, like Dr. John Nagl, Amb. Edward Walker, and Dr. Andrew Exum, which you can read more about here and here. Matt has also been busy making media appearances, including on Fox News and MSNBC, as well as contributing op-eds to pressing policy discussions in the Huffington Post and the Christian Science Monitor. Bio: Matt Zeller, a native of Rochester, New York, is a consultant on alternative energy issues, working in northern Virginia. In his first book, Watches Without Time, Zeller gives a vivid description of what he experienced while serving as an embedded combat adviser with the Afghan security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008. Captain Zeller enlisted into the Army National Guard immediately following the 9/11 attacks and received his officer's commission via Syracuse Universitys Army ROTC program in 2004-- at the same time as he graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Government. (At Hamilton, he was also awarded the David Boren National Security Fellowship.) In 2005, Capt. Zeller graduated first in his class from the US Army Military Intelligence Officers Basic course. He also graduated from the U.S. Armys Combat Adviser's course; and in 2006 he completed dual Masters degrees in Public Administration and International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Zeller's book originated from a lengthy series of email messages he sent to his friends and family back home chronicling his time embedded with Afghan forces: texts that he could not even bring himself to revisit until two years after his return from Afghanistan. He has described it as "not a typical war memoir," because it highlights several rarely exposed aspects of the life of an American soldier such as the inadequate training he was given before deployment, and the difficulties he had reintegrating and adjusting back to civilian life after his return to the United States. He hopes his work will resonate with other returning soldiers struggling to make sense of their experiences in battle, spark dialogue about the longterm repercussions of the war, and make Americans think more deeply about the many kinds of costs involved before they send troops into combat in the future. Throughout his service in the military, Zeller was an avid fan of Joshua Foust, the blogger who is also the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. When Zeller returned to the United States after his deployment, he had the opportunity to meet Foust and the two have remained good friends ever since. He is also a former intelligence officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. After returning from Afghanistan, Zeller decided to run for Congress. In 2010, he was the Democratic nominee for New York's 29th Congressional District, running on a strong veterans' rights platform. Though he was not elected then, Zeller hopes he will have a chance to serve in political office in the future.