Saturday, October 25, 2008

Air Force 42, Army 0

A few days ago we had the Air Force/Army football game here on the FOB. In the first few minutes the game looked like it was going to be a close one. However, after two drives the Air Force’s speed took over and a blow out ensued.

The PRT is about half Army and half Air Force, and at one point we even had a Navy officer on the team. This makes for some interesting dynamics in both living and working environments. At the beginning of the deployment there was a clear divide between the two, as one might expect. But as missions rolled on and we all worked together outside the FOB as well as on, the team became less an Army and Air Force team and more of an Army/Air Force team. That was until the football game. For that hour and a half we were back to being divided and playing such hard football that you would never know we all came from the same ‘team’. In the end the Air Force won (by a lot) but what was really important was that we all had fun together in the little time we have left here.

Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Taliban

There is no doubt that the security situation in Afghanistan has gotten quite a bit worse (it’s now worse than Iraq). Places that have been “safe” in the past have started seeing different forms of violence. What you probably here about most, is the IEDs (roadside bombs) or direct contact ambushes, like the ones that killed the 9 soldiers in Konar or the 9 French soldiers. As for the locals, they face intimidation, theft and murder. What all these things have in common is that the “Taliban” perpetrated the crime. If someone attacks coalition forces… the Taliban did it. If someone gets kidnapped… the Taliban did it. If someone steals a car… you guessed it, the Taliban did it. I’m not trying to say that there is no Taliban threat, in fact the Taliban is very real, very evil and causing a lot of problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, I’m not sure that everything that goes wrong here can be attributed to the Taliban. Afghanistan is a terribly poor country, one of the poorest in the world. They lack sufficient police and military forces, they lack a stable government and they lack faith in what little services they do have. With all that stacked against them, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that there might be some crime that is perpetrated by the desperate and deranged, with no affiliation to the Taliban.

Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


In past posts, I have talked about our local engineer. Engineer Shukrullah, or “Shuak” as we call him, is an extremely important member of our team. Aside from “hello” and “how are you” none of us speak any of the local language, Pashto. Shauk does, being that he is a native of Paktya Province, but he is also an engineering graduate from the University of Kabul, and thus an important technical advisor. He interfaces with the local contractors and government officials, translates for us at meetings, performs quality assurance site visits and helps us with cost estimates, since construction prices in Afghanistan are a little different from the States. Shauk has also become a friend, going to lunch with us (when he isn’t fasting for Ramadan), going to the gym and just sitting and talking about nothing in general. He also has felt the pain of the violence here, when his brother was killed by the Taliban earlier this year.

This week is Shauk’s last here at PRT Gardez, because in a few weeks he will head to the United States. He was awarded a special immigrant visa as a reward for his years of service to the US and Afghan governments. He has asked us all a lot of questions about what the US is like, because he has only ever traveled inside Afghanistan (aside from an interview he had in Pakistan as part of his visa process.) He is an intelligent guy and I hope he does well in the land of the free. I also hope that he doesn’t run into any post-9/11 bigotry, because he has served his, and our country honorably in a place and on a mission very few Americans will ever fully understand.

Thank you and God Bless.