Sunday, April 29, 2007

April 30 2007

There was a lot of noise in the hallway when I woke up yesterday at 12:30 AM or 0030 for those of you into military time. Some of our Afghan National Army brethren had run over a land mine on the way out to a check point and they were bringing in the casualty. Unfortunately two of the three soldiers died immediately. The third was brought in suffering from shock, burns and lacerations. We were unable to get a helicopter to come and land for various reasons. The excuse given the next day to the medical personnel in Herat was that the helicopters needed maintenance. The initial reason given over the radio was that because there were no US, Spanish or Italian injured the Spanish weren't going to launch the medevac. These are not interpretations on my part, these are the things that we were told. The fact is that no medevac was launched, and we ended up putting our soldier into an ambulance and hot footing him to Herat. When I say our soldier I mean that exactly that way. When you serve with a group of soldiers, American, Afghan or Romanian, those people have ownership of you, and you have ownership of them. It isn't a codified political thing; it is a group dynamic thing. It is embarrassing when the coalition member responsible for medical transport responds according to the nationality of the person injured. There is no way to legally express the frustration we feel as a part of this unit, knowing that if it were me or one of our US soldiers the bird would have flown immediately, but for our coalition Afghan soldiers it is not justifiable in Madrid. Yes the authorization has to happen in Madrid for Afghan nationals, be they soldiers or not.

Most events that I have read about in the news in our area, and there have been a few in the last couple of days have reported the event okay. There are varying degrees of truth in the circumstances, often depending upon the origination of the article. Tehran, Iran reports a battle with 50 Taliban, referencing a battle that I know had less than half that number. American press thankfully doesn't give any numbers in that instance.

This is a Support and Stability Operation. Support consists of building infrastructure, improving school systems, building wells and bridges, providing materials and labor to improve or build mosques, building roads, improving roads and water networks. This can only happen when the fighting has dropped to a low infrequent and insignificant level. For the last several weeks the focus in this operation in this area has shifted from Support, to Stability. Stability is creating an atmosphere conducive to Support. Stability includes all military operations you might normally think of to achieve a cease fire of sorts. Stability operations can be kinetic operations. We glorify kinetic operations, "Saving Private Ryan", "We Were Soldier's and Young" and "Platoon" are just a couple of examples, and we glorify them with reason. Those people did what needed to be done at the time, and many died in the doing. What is not glorious, but is equally important to sustaining peace is the Support operations that alleviate the needs for future conflict, and save lives of future soldiers by eliminating or reducing the conflict down to something that our politicians can handle with our resorting to using force.

Finally I want to pay my respect to the recent departed, both American and Afghan who died in service to their country.


Anonymous said...

Hi Keith,
I am so sorry to hear about your fallen comrades. I am sure it is beyond frustrating to deal with medical support rationed out to one nationality over another. And even more, to feel there is nothing you can do to change that!
Love, Alice

Anonymous said...

Hey Keith, wow, I'm sure you have to be very frustrated. I just can't imagine any part of a team, "coalition" turning there back, or in this case, not getting off there back to help another member of that team regardless of what nationality they're from. Why isn't this being reported? Doesn't this rise to the level of news worthy information the AP wants to report? Seems to me, if the Spanish Gov. were embarrassed they may change tactics. Although it's too bad you have to shame or embarrass a "team" member into doing there job... Take care and see you soon.


P.S. Sorry to hear about those guys... Hope the injured one makes it okay.