Michael Vinay Bhatia
Date of birth: 23-08-1976
Date of death: 07-05-2008

Welcome. This webpage has been established so that family, friends and colleagues of Michael Bhatia may celebrate his life with their own stories and photos. ...

Welcome. This webpage has been established so that family, friends and colleagues of Michael Bhatia may celebrate his life with their own stories and photos. Please share your memories of Michael with us.

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  • Anonymous
    3 years
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

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  • 4 years, 10 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    I wrote a senior thesis on the arms trade in Afghanistan last year. This year I am writing comparative of it to Ethiopian arms trade. I draw heavily from Dr. Bhatia's research and admire him greatly. I am so terribly saddened to hear of his death and want nothing more than to continue his work. As an former Navy vet and injured Navy Seal candidate of class 247 currently studying history and anthropology, I find that research like Bhatia's is not only priceless, but rare in a way that makes it a diamond of a find. Thanks for making the site. anyone interested in contributing any knowledge about Dr. Bhatia, his research, or his goals please feel free to email joseph.cavanah@gmail.com have a great day

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  • 4 years, 10 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    I wrote a senior thesis on the arms trade in Afghanistan last year. This year I am writing comparative of it to Ethiopian arms trade. I draw heavily from Dr. Bhatia's research and admire him greatly. I am so terribly saddened to hear of his death and want nothing more than to continue his work. As an former Navy vet and injured Navy Seal candidate of class 247 currently studying history and anthropology, I find that research like Bhatia's is not only priceless, but rare in a way that makes it a diamond of a find. Thanks for making the site. anyone interested in contributing any knowledge about Dr. Bhatia, his research, or his goals please feel free to email joseph.cavanah@gmail.com have a great day

    no hearts yet

  • 5 years, 10 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    Most of you probably don't know me, but some of you may remember me. I feel off the face of the planet for a little while, but have finally resurfaced. I have consumed gallons of beer and Scotch (only the good stuff) and an ocean of tears have flowed from my eyes for Michael, my beloved Indian--dot, not feather. Being that I am part Apache, Michael and I would kid each other by referring to each other as Feather, not dot or Dot, not feather. Stupid I know, but it was a sign of respect and friendship.

    The death of Michael, and that of Nicole's, have sparked much controversy and have led to the publication of many negative articles. I have wrestled with myself about responding to those authors who have written their articles from a safe distance of 8,000 miles while in the comfort of their homes and offices. I will not contribute to their prattle and conjectures about the Human Terrain System program, but instead would like to simply talk about Michael and the dedication and passion he had for what he was doing.

    As you many of you know, Michael was not a stranger to risk and danger. Hell, he was at more risk roaming around East Timor and Afghanistan alone with an interpreter and in a car than he ever was with our organization. Michael was a man of action, and was not afraid to go where the real problems resided in search of truth and understanding.

    I have many stories of Michael, but the one that I want to tell you today took place on our last mission, which I believe will tell you exactly how Michael felt about what he was doing in Afghanistan as a member of HTS. Yes, for those of you who don't know, I was with him on his last mission, and brought him home to his family.

    We had departed our home base the day before and have had a hell of a time reaching our destination, Sabari District Center, Sabari District, Khost Province, Afghanistan. We had spent four hours going approximately 15 kilometers and had finally arrived at the district center. It was a bit eerie since we were supposed to have been there a couple of weeks prior. The day we were supposed to have been there was the day that a Vehicle-bore Improvised Explosive Devise (VBIED) struck the district center, killing two American soldiers and one Afghan police officer who gave his life trying to stop the vehicle. Seeing the damage was humbling.

    Michael and I dropped our gear, he on a cot inside a crowed tent, and me and our interpreter on a cot outside. The only protection at that installation was the barriers that surrounded the small base, and the guards who scanned the exterior for threats. We did the usual "meet and greet" of our hosts and learned of our up-coming missions. Shortly after that Michael, the interpreter, and I had a team huddle to decide what we were going to do since we would not be getting off the base that day. We decided to go in search of any Afghan Army and police forces present on the base and get started interviewing and learning as much as we could about the troubles and dynamics of the area. Off we went!

    We interviewed half a dozen people while sitting on the ground in the traditional circle, drinking lots of tea. We did this until the sun began to set and the men needed to prepare for the evening prayer.

    We returned to the other side of the installation, unpacked our gear, prepared our cots for the evening, and then went to get some food. If memory serves me, we had some damn fine fried chicken and fries for supper. The three of us sat on the ground discussing and analyzing our interviews and enjoying our supper near a grave that was in the middle of the compound. The sky had eventually filled with the most brilliant stars by the time we finally went to bed.

    The next day were we supposed to go outside the wire, which is to say outside the relative safety of our compound for a mission to a local village. But, the plans had changed--as often happens--and would go nowhere that day. We regrouped and decided to spend the day interviewing more of the same personnel we had the day before. We began about 0900 and stayed, again, until sunset. We had enjoyed some good conversation, learned much, and had even gorged ourselves on some authentic Afghan food. The day had been productive and well spent.

    Again, we returned to our "quarters", prepared our beds for the evening, and went in search of some food. We received our portions and again returned to the same spot we had the evening before. We discussed our day and the things that we had learned and had begun to discover the intricacies of the complexities of the situation in which we found ourselves. The stars filled the sky once again, and we retired to our cots.

    About 1030 that evening everyone woke up to the voice of the Sergeant Major telling everyone to grab their gear and report to the Headquarters shack, and a shack it was. But, despite the humble accommodations the compound had to offer NO ONE bitched. We assembled outside the shack to hear the Captain tell us about a probably attack on our installation sometime during the night. The military members received their orders and assignments. Some would post watch on the towers and others would go out to find the enemy before they could execute their attack. Michael and I also received our orders. "Stay close. If shit hits the fan, do what you have to. Do your part because everyone will be balls to the wall."

    At that point, the reality struck. The dangers and risks were real and could materialize in an instant. It was at that point about survival and helping our new brother and sisters. At that point, we were soldiers with a duty to protect and defend.

    Now I would imagine that many of those who have great consternation with HTS would quickly point out, "You see! I told you! They violated ethics and our policy of do no harm!"

    I will submit to you that there are realities of war that THOSE people have never known first-hand. I would also submit to you that when your life is on the line, your actions are about survival and nothing more. Ethics and the Anthropological version of the Hippocratic oath are a distant thought when an eminent attack looms.

    The three of us huddled, as we always did, and decided what we would do if shit hit the fan. We locked and loaded and prepared ourselves for a fight. We watched, listened, and waited--for hours.

    There are millions of thoughts that go through one's mind when you are waiting to see what happens in that environment, waiting to hear the first reports of a rifle or the whizzes of rockets or mortars.

    While we sat on my cot outside the tent and waited Michael turned and said, "Tom, I really don't understand those people who have stirred up all the controversy over this program. The call themselves researchers and academics, but yet they don't even follow their own teachings. The first rule of research is to do research--real research. You have to go out where the action is to discover the truth so you can return to analyze and report what you learned. Those fuckers haven't even set foot in Afghanistan; they probably couldn't find it on a map. How can you honestly assess anything if you have never gotten dirty? How do you know what the situation is really like if you have not lived it? You know, no one can ever say that we weren't right in the middle the shit."

    I looked at him and replied, "Michael, I agree with you completely. And you are right, no one can ever say we were not right in the middle of it, because that is exactly where we are--the worst place on the map."

    "And that is right where we have to be. This is where we are needed the most," he replied.

    A collective F'em followed!

    Fortunately, the night passed without incident, though we were ready for whatever came our way. Everyone returned safely around 0200 and we all went to sleep, though ever so lightly.

    Did Michael want to be in Afghanistan? Yes he did! Was he there doing something that he felt was for the greater good? Yes he was! Was he ready to do whatever was necessary to defend himself and others? Yes he was! Was he a man of compassion and passion? Yes he was! Michael was where he wanted to be doing what he wanted to do. His death, though horribly tragic, had nothing to do with the lack of training. No one can prepare or defend against what happened the day he was killed. I know all too well because my brother died that day, when it could have been me. I carried my brother home. I know he had all the training he needed to be an integral part of the fight, if required. He was a scholar, a patriot, and a brother I never had. I lost part of my soul the day he died.

    Shame on those who use his death to perpetuate their unfounded claims and ignorant conjectures!

    Michael Bhatia is one of the bravest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with. He was a man of action, willing to get dirty in the search of the truth in an effort to provide assistance in any manner necessary.

    There are few that knew Michael the way I did, but I wanted to share this story with you as an example of his dedication and passion for his work. I am still angry about his death, but I ask you how many have truly died doing what they loved: trying to make the world a better place.

    Michael certainly changed my life, one of many across continents...I hope you understand.

    I miss you.

    Your Brother,
    ~ Feather, not dot

    no hearts yet

    5 years, 9 months

    hamida:

    Hello there, I am trying to get a hold of Tom Garcia. I am an Afghan-born Canadian journalist and author of a book on Afghanistan. I am working on a story about the HTT for my newspaper, The National which is based in Abu Dhabi. I met Michael very briefly when I was living and working in Kabul - he was with the AREU then, I believe. By a strange coincidence, I spoke to him before I went to Khost for an assignment. Tom, can you please contact me? hghafour@thenational.ae Thank you so much,

  • 5 years, 10 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    Most of you probably don't know me, but some of you may remember me. My name is Tom Garcia, and I feel off the face of the planet for a little while, but have finally resurfaced. I have consumed gallons of beer and Scotch (only the good stuff) and an ocean of tears have flowed from my eyes for Michael, my beloved Indian--dot, not feather. Being that I am part Apache, Michael and I would kid each other by referring to each other as Feather, not dot or Dot, not feather. Stupid I know, but it was a sign of respect and friendship.

    The death of Michael, and that of Nicole's, have sparked much controversy and have led to the publication of many negative articles. I have wrestled with myself about responding to those authors who have written their articles from a safe distance of 8,000 miles while in the comfort of their homes and offices. I will not contribute to their prattle and conjectures about the Human Terrain System program, but instead would like to simply talk about Michael and the dedication and passion he had for what he was doing.

    As you many of you know, Michael was not a stranger to risk and danger. Hell, he was at more risk roaming around East Timor and Afghanistan alone with an interpreter and in a car than he ever was with our organization. Michael was a man of action, and was not afraid to go where the real problems resided in search of truth and understanding.

    I have many stories of Michael, but the one that I want to tell you today took place on our last mission, which I believe will tell you exactly how Michael felt about what he was doing in Afghanistan as a member of HTS. Yes, for those of you who don't know, I was with him on his last mission, and brought him home to his family.

    We had departed our home base the day before and have had a hell of a time reaching our destination, Sabari District Center, Sabari District, Khost Province, Afghanistan. We had spent four hours going approximately 15 kilometers and had finally arrived at the district center. It was a bit eerie since we were supposed to have been there a couple of weeks prior. The day we were supposed to have been there was the day that a Vehicle-bore Improvised Explosive Devise (VBIED) struck the district center, killing two American soldiers and one Afghan police officer who gave his life trying to stop the vehicle. Seeing the damage was humbling.

    Michael and I dropped our gear, he on a cot inside a crowed tent, and me and our interpreter on a cot outside. The only protection at that installation was the barriers that surrounded the small base, and the guards who scanned the exterior for threats. We did the usual "meet and greet" of our hosts and learned of our up-coming missions. Shortly after that Michael, the interpreter, and I had a team huddle to decide what we were going to do since we would not be getting off the base that day. We decided to go in search of any Afghan Army and police forces present on the base and get started interviewing and learning as much as we could about the troubles and dynamics of the area. Off we went!

    We interviewed half a dozen people while sitting on the ground in the traditional circle, drinking lots of tea. We did this until the sun began to set and the men needed to prepare for the evening prayer.

    We returned to the other side of the installation, unpacked our gear, prepared our cots for the evening, and then went to get some food. If memory serves me, we had some damn fine fried chicken and fries for supper. The three of us sat on the ground discussing and analyzing our interviews and enjoying our supper near a grave that was in the middle of the compound . The sky had eventually filled with the most brilliant stars by the time we finally went to bed.

    The next day were we supposed to go outside the wire, which is to say outside the relative safety of our compound for a mission to a local village. But, the plans had changed--as often happens--and would go nowhere that day. We regrouped and decided to spend the day interviewing more of the same personnel we had the day before. We began about 0900 and stayed, again, until sunset. We had enjoyed some good conversation, learned much, and had even gorged ourselves on some authentic Afghan food. The day had been productive and well spent.

    Again, we returned to our "quarters", prepared our beds for the evening, and went in serach of some food. We received our portions and again returned to the same spot we had the evening before. We discussed our day and the things that we had learned and had begun to discover the intricacies of the complexities of the situation in which we found ourselves. The stars filled the sky once again, and we retired to our cots.

    About 1030 that evening everyone woke up to the voice of the Sergeant Major telling everyone to grab their gear and report to the Headquarters shack, and a shack it was. But, despite the humble accommodations the compound had to offer NO ONE bitched. We assembled outside the shack to hear the Captain tell us about a probably attack on our installation sometime during the night. The military members received their orders and assignments. Some would post watch on the towers and others would go out to find the enemy before they could execute their attack. Michael and I also received our orders. "Stay close. If shit hits the fan, do what you have to. Do your part because everyone will be balls to the wall."

    At that point, the reality struck. The dangers and risks were real and could materialize in an instant. It was at that point about survival and helping our new brother and sisters. At that point, we were soldiers with a duty to protect and defend.

    Now I would imagine that many of those who have great consternation with HTS would quickly point out, "You see! I told you! They violated ethics and our policy of do no harm!"

    I will submit to you that there are realities of war that THOSE people have never known first-hand. I would also submit to you that when your life is on the line, your actions are about survival and nothing more. Ethics and the Anthropological version of the Hippocratic Oath are a distant thought when an eminent attack looms.

    The three of us huddled, as we always did, and decided what we would do if shit hit the fan. We locked and loaded and prepared ourselves for a fight. We watched, listened, and waited--for hours.

    There are millions of thoughts that go through one's mind when you are waiting to see what happens in that environment, waiting to hear the first reports of a rifle or the whizzes of rockets or mortars.

    While we sat on my cot outside the tent and waited Michael turned and said, "Tom, I really don't understand those people who have stirred up all the controversy over this program. The call themselves researchers and academics, but yet they don't even follow their own teachings. The first rule of research is to do research--real research. You have to go out where the action is to discover the truth so you can return to analyze and report what you learned. Those fuckers haven't even set foot in Afghanistan; they probably couldn't find it on a map. How can you honestly assess anything if you have never gotten dirty? How do you know what the situation is really like if you have not lived it. You know, no one can ever say that we weren't right in the middle the shit."

    I looked at him and replied, "Michael, I agree with you completely. And you are right, no one can ever say we were not right in the middle of it, because that is exactly where we are--the worst place on the map."

    "And that is right where we have to be. This is where we are needed the most," he replied.

    A collective F'em followed!

    Fortunately, the night passed without incident, though we were ready for whatever came our way. Everyone returned safely around 0200 and we all went to sleep, though ever so lightly.

    Did Michael want to be in Afghanistan? Yes he did! Was he there doing something that he felt was for the greater good? Yes he was! Was he ready to do whatever was necessary to defend himself and others? Yes he was! Was he a man of compassion and passion? Yes he was! Michael was were he wanted to be doing what he wanted to do. His death, though horribly tragic, had nothing to do with the lack of training. No one can prepare or defend against what happened the day he was killed. I know all too well because my brother died that day, when it could have been me. I carried my brother home. I know he had all the training he needed to be an integral part of the fight, if required. He was a scholar, a patriot, and a brother I never had. I lost part of my soul the day he died.

    Shame on those who use his death to perpetuate their unfounded claims and ignorant conjectures!

    Michael Bhatia is one of the bravest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with. He was a man of action, willing to get dirty in the search of the truth in an effort to provide assistance in any manner necessary.

    There are few that knew Michael the way I did, but I wanted to share this story with you as an example of his dedication and passion for his work. I am still angry about his death, but I ask you how many have truly died doing what they loved: trying to make the world a better place.

    Michael certainly changed my life, one of many across continents...I hope you understand.

    I miss you.

    Your Brother,
    ~ Feather, not dot

    no hearts yet

  • 5 years, 10 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    Dear friends,

    Four months after Michael Bhatia's death in Afghanistan, the outpouring of mutual support has meant so much to all of us. We are humbled to be reminded of how many loyal friends Michael had -- from childhood, from Brown, from Oxford, from the military -- and we have been privileged to get to know so many of you better.

    One of the ways that we want to perpetuate Michael's legacy is by establishing a permanent, named endowment for a traveling scholarship at Brown University. When Michael was a junior at Brown, he organized an aid convoy to the Sahrawi refugee camps in southwestern Algeria.

    These sorts of undergraduate experiences can allow college students to enrich their understanding of the world and discover new opportunities for their careers. In particular, these experiences can inspire young people to engage in humanitarian work and national service.

    Michael would have loved those goals -- because those are the goals to which he committed himself.

    The Brown University development office tells us that we will have to raise a minimum of $25,000 to establish a permanent scholarship in Michael's name that will be able to provide funds every year and sustain its value over time.

    To those of you who have already donated, we are very grateful. To those of you who haven't had a chance to donate yet, we would encourage you to do so by logging into the donation website at https://gifts.development.brown.edu/Brown/ChooseGifts.aspx and making sure to designate "add to an existing endowment fund" -- specifying the "Michael Bhatia Scholarship Fund."

    Thank you so much for all that you have done -- and continue to do -- to sustain Michael's legacy.

    Jason Wasfy and Alan Trammell

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  • 6 years, 1 month
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

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  • 6 years, 1 month
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    I e-mailed the honorable Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to inform him of Mike's death. (Mike was a constituent on the Senator during his time in Providence. He also lived in the Senator's neighborhood). Senator Whitehouse was kind enough to write back:

    "Dear Mr. Resler:

    Thank you for your message regarding the death of Mr. Michael Bhatia. I appreciate you getting in touch and am saddened to hear of this tragic loss.

    Mr. Bhatia demonstrated great courage working to bring a deeper understanding of the issues underlying some of the world’s most difficult conflicts, and often putting his own safety at risk in the process. As our experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated, it is crucial to account for national cultural considerations, and Mr. Bhatia’s participation in the research project in Afghanistan to improve cultural awareness in the military was invaluable to our efforts there.

    Mr. Bhatia will be remembered for his steadfast commitment to peaceful conflict resolution and cultural understanding. Undoubtedly, his spirit will live on as we look to his work to better understand contemporary conflicts.

    Thank you again for informing me of this sad loss. Please feel free to contact me again in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Sheldon"

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  • 6 years, 2 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    My memories of Michael goes back to our first encounter with him. He must have been about 2 years old. We had just moved into our home in Morgan Hill, CA when the door bell rung. My husband answered the door and here was this little man welcoming us to the neighborhood. When my husband returned, I asked what they had discussed. He said that he had no idea but was quite impressed that Michael was very articulate if not understandable at such a early age. Whenever I see a child jabboring on about who knows what, I always think of Michael.

    The last time we saw Michael was in Medway, MA when he was a teen. I was deeply impressed with his warmth, intelligence, sense of fun and total lack of awkwardness around adults. He was also a great tour guide!

    We loved him very much and he will always be in our hearts. Our prayers of comfort go out to Linda, Mike and Trish.

    Janet Heath and Jonathan and Adrienne Epstein, Sacramento, CA

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  • 6 years, 3 months
    created memory in Michael Vinay Bhatia

    The sad news jolted us here in Australia for all of those who had worked with Michael in East Timor. We remember him for his courage and enthusiasm. May he rest in peace. We will remember him

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