Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another set of thank yous are due out to folks....

This is a delivery of mail addressed to me from people back home, it is primarily school supplies with some clothing thrown in for the smaller children. It is well received and appreciated.

Thanks Charlie and Joyce, Merri, Jeanette, and Pat. The nice thing is that we have other soldiers getting similar shipments which allow us to do good things for the children here, who again are the future of this country.

Life around here is beginning to be more stressful. I am not truly sure if that is just because we are past 90 days from being in the States or because things in the media are heating up, along with the stuff on the ground. I have received several communications from people back home in one form or another asking me how things are going over here and how am I coping with it.

I am not certain anyone really wants to hear my concerns perhaps least of all me. Life is what it is. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you deal with it as it comes to you in day by day, sometimes hour by hour segments. I can tell you one thing, our brothers in the eastern portion of the country have it far worse than we do in terms of violence directed their way; Which is why you read about Kandahar and Helmond province so often in the news.

I can say this; no one I know has joined the military with the idea that it was a safe occupation. There are many great things about the military, the people you serve with on a daily basis, the people who have your back and know you have theirs. The people who make sure you ate your meal, or got a bottle of water, instead of waiting for you to get it on your own. The people who take the initiative to make the place and your situation a better place, those are the people you may risk your life in order to increase the overall safety of the team. (A lot of people wrote about the whole “army of one” advertising campaign). I for one can tell you that it is truly about 3 to 5 man teams melded together into units that make a difference here.

These two, Gunslinger and Doc, or Holiday, it depends on the day and time I call him, are two of our team here. They are demonstrating their multitalented ambidextrousness, changing out the radiator on this HMMWV.

We have two teams of that size here and the two form our entire team of Americans here in our location. When we work with the ANA they have a similar system, and they are fighting for each other and to protect us as much as to project the political ambitions of the State. People join the military for adventure, service, personal improvement, because it fits their personality, because they want to see what they are made of, because they are experimenting with who they will become.

This was taken three months ago in Bagram air field, the significance is that everyone here graduated from Portland State or University of Portland ROTC. It is the same ROTC program, that moved to UP for some unknown reason. Just like all fraternal organizations, common ties bind. I would like to point out that I am not the oldest in this picture....

No one joined the Army or the National Guard without an awareness that potentially they could be called upon to serve in a foreign land. No one carries a weapon with out an idea that they may be called upon to use it. If it were a completely safe operation here they would send in Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and that would be how they helped out. Right now the people of Afghanistan need the security of a strong army to ensure that their national government can control and provide for the common good in Afghanistan.

This group of men live in a village not to far from my location. This is actually an Elder, and about 5 of his sons, the youngest son is less than 6 years old, I have to guess that that means his latest wife is somewhat younger than he is.

This is a country where the national police are as young as 15-23 and maybe as old as 35 years old. They get paid half of what they earn when they get paid, and they are paid at some higher ranking guys whim. So they collect fees on the road, about 40 U.S. cents. In a country where good money is 2 dollars a day, if you work everyday, .40 cents is a pretty large chunk of cash to travel every 20 kilometers or so. If you don’t have the money or tell them no, you won’t pay you might be subject to the reasoning tools at an armed 20 year olds disposal.

They don’t appear to have a local taxation structure here. The central government hasn’t broken the code on how to pay the Afghan National Police, and the Municipalities (villages) don’t have a history of paying for them either. So police rob / tax / toll the road. It doesn’t happen everywhere, but it happens here. And it negatively affects the reputation of the national government. There is a plan in place to make that better, and we have good people who will help with that issue, but until they have oversight and the police are paid wages earned, it will continue to be at best a neutral point to have ANP in the area, and at worst it will be a negative point.

This operation is a Support and Stability operation. You have to provide stability to a region before you can begin to address support issues.

Okay that is all for now, it is late and I have a mission to take care of tomorrow.


1 comment:

Alice Widman said...

As I have said before, I want you to know that those of us here in Virginia Beach are surrounding you in white light and praying for you safety at the same time you are ensuring ours. Much love, Alice