Monday, April 16, 2007

Thoughts and observations from Herat

I have a couple of thoughts and observations from the vantage point of our Forward Operating Base in Herat.

In addition, I would like to direct your attention to an editorial by Mike Francis in this weekends addition of the Oregonian, I think he quite accurately describes the issues.

In my travels here lately in the main base area of Herat Province I have had occasion to visit the FSB run by ISAF, that is the Forward Support Base run by the International Security Assistance Force. It is a very nicely appointed compound that is protected from attack in the way that most of our bases are protected. On it the Spanish, Italian, and Slovakian troops conduct their business. They are in the process of paving the main street which has the Spanish PX (Post Exchange) where they sell various sundry items. They have a barber collocated with a masseuse, an Internet cafe, a short order cafeteria where you may buy coffee drinks, or short order items, and sit in a large open air conditioned area and relax a bit and discuss things with people while you are not either in a work area, a personal area, or in transition between the two. In short it allows a person to relax somewhat.

The Italian PX is about two hundred meters away in a different area of the base, and it sells a different group of sundries with some overlap. Of course, it doesn't matter what nationality you are, you may buy from either location. They even sell to Americans. "GASP".

My dealings with the Italians and the Spanish on or around the base in the Herat province have been examples of hospitality that is exemplary. They are courteous, and friendly. Truly I would actually enjoy and prefer being located on the same base with them, for the cultural exchange. We have both Italians and Spanish at the American Base in Herat as well, but as there is not a logical gathering point for people to cross paths when not engaged in business, other than the gym, I don't see much of them on our post.

After seeing the extent of the support for the Spanish and the Italians, I am left wondering why the American Army has not seen fit to support its soldiers in a similar fashion. I know that these same amenities exist in Kabul, and in Kandahar. Kandahar may be better appointed then Kabul. Bagram is certainly well appointed also.

I believe earlier in my writings here I expressed dissatisfaction with ISAF strategies, or perhaps I remarked that they are very different that US strategies. That is still true. However, think that perhaps ISAF strategies have a place here. It is not a requirement to have a direct fire victory over every person who opposes the government of Afghanistan, it is simply enough to create enough peace to allow the roots of democracy (Afghan style) to take hold and flourish. I am sure that as long as the world community does not give up on Afghanistan, then Afghanistan will continue to grow in both peace and prosperity, which will allow stability to be a sure thing.

1 comment:

MAJ LOGGIE said...

I was one of the officers there who was part of the transition of the PRT/ TF LONGHORN to the ISAF forces. Looking to see what changes have happened since I left. I'm assuming that you are with the ETTs down the road from the Airport. My email is