Monday, January 29, 2007

Some general information and a couple of thoughts

Over the course of the last couple of months I have received a lot of support from both people I know and will see again, and people I don't know, and will perhaps never meet. I have received offers of help for things that I have mentioned here, and received direct support for humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people in the area. I really appreciate it.

Things you can do for soldiers: I received a nice letter from a Master Chief in the Navy who is retired. He wanted to know what he could do for both soldiers serving here in Afghanistan, and children here.

Here is an abbreviated version of what I told him. To support troops: Soldiers here have more in my observation than they need in terms of candy, and various odds and ends. The best way I have seen for people to help soldiers is through the USO, specifically in three locations: Atlanta, Dallas and Bangor Maine. Most soldiers pass through these locations coming or going, and the USO there has care packages, Cell phones for use, drinks, sandwiches, and a host of assorted other things that soldiers can utilize during travel, it is probably the most stressful time traveling for two days by plane, and they are limited these days on what they can have. I would support the USO in order to support soldiers.

Young Children can use shoes, coats, hats, gloves. Those things in Afghanistan are great for winter for sure, and hats are good for summer when they have a bill. I have literally seen shoes held together with leather thongs, but most kids either have okay shoes, or none at all, kid’s feet grow so fast that they just don't have the time to wear them out most of the time.

I am temporarily the team chief of my group. We are getting a Major in soon, and when he gets here I will provide his name and address for donations of that sort. I expect to be out of here early summer, and want to make sure that anything I have received I have passed on. Right now I think we are well in excess of 1500 dollars worth of items out to the kids in the area, and in this area, with the type of things that have been sent, that covers a lot of territory, thank you again.

Other thoughts:
I was talking with one of my fellow service members here, a Captain out of the Inactive Ready Reserve from Georgia. He was plucked out of his job, sent to an abbreviated warm up, and sent as an individual augmentee for our deployment. He thought he knew what to expect as he was here during the initial invasion, when the fighting was house to house, or village to village. What he found on this trip is entirely different than what he found on his first excursion.

We were discussing the “Hero concept”, among other things; we all know here on the ground that we are not heroic, in any form or fashion. We are however responsible citizens who are trained to perform the tasks we have been given to undertake. We bond with one another, we protect each other, and we perform as a unit because that is the way we can both accomplish our job, and survive to go home to be with our families.

No one knows the cost of being away from our families more than we do; perhaps our wives and immediate family feel the loss in a similar fashion. Just as an example I have missed all birthdays this last year from February 24th on, excluding ironically my own, as I was able to be home for the holidays. Those are things that you can't get back. They are also things that my family has given up or sacrificed for me to be here as well, willingly or not. Most people do not presume to tell us what we are missing out on. I figure that they know we are aware of it. I appreciate all of the kind words and thoughts that I receive or that people direct our way on our behalf.

This Blog is an attempt to share what I see, I try to keep my political thoughts out of it, although I am sure they slip in; because my intent is to be more informative than opinionated. I have opinions; they just aren't relevant to the discussion very often.

This last week the Afghan Government decided to begin poppy eradication here in my area. So far only one IED has been laid in for the police who have to undertake the poppy eradication. Those are facts. Whether or not poppy eradication has proved successful in Helmond province doesn't have any bearing on the fact that it is happening here in my area. (It has resulted in the Taliban gaining ground in Helmond, and the British have a major fight on their hands there as a result.)

So, Mostly I attempt to keep pure opinion out of this. In the first place, writing something down gives it a hundred times more weight than speaking it out loud, people will be able to read this for months to come. In the second place, I have found that my opinions on techniques change over time as my knowledge base changes. Also based upon the tools that I am used to using, my thoughts on things will be different then someone with a different life experience.

Okay, that is all the politically correct way of saying that what I think today might change with time. You are supposed to learn and grow. I have been taught to try and do the right thing, even when it is difficult to do that. Some times my greatest obstacle is myself.

All my best, I hope you enjoy,


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