Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More from Afghanistan.

So, I'm still here in Afghanistan, having worked at tiny COP and now working at a mid-sized FOB. It's interesting to say the least.

Going "outside the wire" on missions is the most fun and the biggest adrenaline rush I've ever had. I've learned a lot and worked with some good people. I've been in some dangerous situations. 

Overall this has been a great experience, and I look forward to doing it again in the future. Maybe in a different country next time. The experience you gain being in a combat zone can't be found anywhere else.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

From the other side.

I do apologize for the long time since my last post. As this is still a very young blog of mine, I know that frequent posting will be one of the best ways to gain new readers. The reason it's been such a long time since I last posted here is that the US government has deployed me to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Without going into the details of what I'm doing or where I am, I'll just say that it's been interesting already. I'd just like to go over a few basic points and then I'll end this post and start putting together my next one.

- Despite what the media is telling the American people, this war, conflict, whatever you want to call it, can be chalked up in the US military's win column. Yes, I fully understand that the Taliban still exists. Yes, I fully understand that ISAF still receives occasional attacks from insurgents in the country. Yes, I am fully aware that we are still losing personnel in this theater. But if your standard for "winning" a conflict is killing or capturing 100% of the enemy fighters, stopping 100% of enemy attacks before they happen and eliminating 100% occurrence of our own casualties, then I see that your standards are unreasonable and impossible from the start. Al Qaeda (AQ) has little to no presence inside Afghanistan today, and the general population, even the ones who still support the Taliban, have no love for foreign AQ operatives. Even in 2001, Afghans viewed AQ foreign fighters with suspicion and mistrust. The Taliban fighters who are left are almost all part-time fighters with minimal training and are some of the poorest equipped fighters in the world. Yes, I know they still launch attacks and I know they still occasionally have some effect. But the saying about a blind squirrel comes to mind. I'm not trying to be nonchalant and uncaring about losses we are currently taking, but in a war this long, the low number of casualties we've taken is both a testament to US military skills and to just how weak our enemy really is over here.

- Despite what happens after the US military leaves Afghanistan, our guys have done EVERYTHING humanly possible to give the people of Afghanistan whatever level of freedom they wish to have on a silver platter. Another saying comes to mind however, about leading a horse to water. If Afghanistan collapses into chaos then that will be no fault of the US military. We came in, we pushed the core of the Taliban out, we killed the core of AQ in Afghanistan, we installed a stable government and have propped it up throughout the war. We have trained their military and police. We have fed their people. Built roads and power lines and wells. We have set up Afghanistan for success. If they fail, then it is on them. If they fail, that does not mean we "lost" the war. The above also applies to Iraq.

- Don't let anyone tell you Afghanistan deployments in 2013 are cakewalks. Yes, Kandahar Airfield has a boardwalk with food and shopping and recreation. That's because when the US goes to war, we bring America with us. But outside of the "super-FOBs", it's a different world. We still have a lot of our people eating MREs (I have at least one per day, sometimes two). We still have people staying "outside the wire" on missions for three or more days at a time in dangerous locations. We do still have people getting hurt and dying. So don't get complacent thinking that it's just "garbage time" here. It's not. This might not be the same place it was in 2001 or 2003 or 2005, but it's still the wild West, and we are still here. Don't forget that.