Khaleej Times Online – Afghan army grapples with shortages

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/international/2009/April/international_April1532.xml&section=international

I really enjoyed reading this article because I have a lot to say about it.  So as to avoid rambling, I’m going to put this in bullet format responses as I re-read the article:

  • You have to remember that the cultural differences between the US and Afghanistan are great.  They are much more laid back and seeing them lounging and dancing about is not as strange as it would be if it were US soldiers.
  • Although their military structure is loosely based on ours (and a combo with the Soviets’) they are not the same either.  What works for us will not necessarily work for them.  First of all, Afghanistan in general is not prepared to supply its Army with the sophisticated equipment that we use.  They would not be able to support, fix, train, and sustain with it.  Keep it simple.
  • Remember that we did not have all this heavily armored vehicles and vests until about 6-8 years ago.  When we first entered Iraq, some of the humvees had canvas doors!
  • The article focuses on soldiers at a remote location.  It is no wonder that they dont have as many luxuries and comforts.  I can tell you that where I am at, all the soldiers have cold/wet weather gear, good boots, humvees, body armor, helmets and are starting to get issued M16s.
  • I agree with Hickman on his comment about immediate gratification.  I have seen some soldiers and officers in the ANA simply looking for the US to hand them things.  If we are willing to give them handouts, who are they to break their backs for it?  I really cant blame them, but it has incited them to be a little lazier in some cases.

To sum up, the article makes are great statement,

Building up and training the fledgling Afghan army is a key exit strategy for the United States and other Western powers keen to quell a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan that last year reached its deadliest yet.

But please do not compare our army which has a wealthy, developed country funding and supporting it and has been around for hundreds of years, to Afghanistan’s “fledgeling” army. We were not the same army in 1636 when Massachusetts formed the first Militia (which later became the National Guard), and we didn’t even have mentors.

Back at The Alamo!

Well, I finally made it back to my Forward Operating Base (FOB), yay!  There is nothing worse than being stuck while travelling in the military.  For my 15 day leave, I was gone 27 days, which I think is a FOB record.   Between being stuck in Kuwait, Bagram and Atlanta, I was more than ready to finally make it back to my 6′ by 6′ home-away-from-home.

Seriously though, I want to give a heart-felt “Thank you” to everyone who came out to see me, wished me luck, bought the next round and was generally there for me when I was home.  It feels great to know that I have such amazing family and friends.

I feel renewed and ready to tackle the second part of the deployment.  When I come home at the end, we will have an even bigger party!  Thanks again everyone.

On my way back now

Leave was great.  It was exactly what I needed.  I am now sitting in the airport terminal waiting to head back.  It is a much different feeling than when I left the first time.  I’m almost excited to get back and start working again so the time will go faster and I can come home again.

I left my camera in my bag the whole time, sorry!  I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures!  I did post a few more pictures from before I left while I was still home and had good bandwidth.

Afghan Village of Sheenza Wer Receives Medical Aid

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id=31747

Here is another article that turned up in my Google Alerts hopper.  This one is also written by Guy Volb, and its about a Humanitarian Assistance (HA) mission that my unit completed while I was home on leave.  I was there for the planning of it but didn’t get to go on this one.

Anyways, great article that gives you an idea of what the villages surrounding the Alamo are like.

Made it

I finally got in on Monday.  The good news is I will get an extra day of leave because I had to stay in Atlanta one night.  I’m having a great time and will try to take pictures to share.  If anyone in the area wants to stop by to say hi, I will be at Watson’s in Elwood tonight.

Lauren – Check your email!

Honey,

I haven’t been able to make contact with you from here yet.  I dont think Yahoo Messenger is working.  I’ve emailed you all my flight information, but I don’t know when you will check it next.  I will try to find a working phone around here, but please check your email soon!

Kuwait is a hole!

So I’ve started my trek across the globe and I’m stuck in Kuwait overnight (at least).  This place sucks more than Afghanistan.  At least there you have hard barren dirt.  Kuwait is just sand and gravel.  Plus its hotter.  And I’m sleeping in a tent.  Hmph, I guess I just feel like bitching.  I shouldn’t be complaining too much because this is the road home.

I wonder where my next stop will be…