Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Dearest:

Originally posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Dearest:

Good to talk to you last night, I can only imagine how tiring this house/kids/moving adventure has been. Plus having to support me while I'm away. It can feel little overwhelming at times no? Know that this whole venture will make us stronger, better, more loving and appreciative members of this world. If it does nothing more than shows me what is most important in this life it has been a success. I miss all of you ...sometimes to fault and I must remind myself of the task at hand and that is to bring everyone home so we can pass on these lessons to others. The threat level here is low. There hasn't been an attack on this outpost and we are surrounded by hundreds of ANA soldiers including or own organic security.

You asked what our job is here so I'll outline it for you:

1. We man three different missions on a rotating basis. First there is the security of the FOB [forward operating base, Camp Victory] we man a number of towers and checkpoints to make sure the occupants of this base are safe.

2. Quick reactionary force. We fall in on a number of up-armored HUMVEEs and do convoy security for vehicles going into Herat or the airbase. Every time someone [military] fly's into the airbase we sweep the runway and perimeter for IEDs [Improvised explosive devices] and then lead the convoy back into the base. Any other contingency for rapid movement of reinforcements to our people of the ISAF crew. [International stability assistance force...i.e. the Italians, Spanish forces that help secure the Airfield etc...]

3. Internal reactionary force. We escort nationals into the base who supply needed commodities Fuel, cleaning services, construction etc... and take over QRF is the first unit is busy with another mission.

We do this on a 24 hour continuous schedule.

So far I have been able to go out into Herat twice with the QRF and yesterday with some officers in LTVs [light armored vehicles] as a shooter. Needed security for the guys outside and the vehicles we use inside the city proper. The Afghani's seem to be an interesting people, probably as interesting as we are to them. Anytime we stop a small crowd appears, mostly children because they're fearless and undeniably curious, most of them know little English and like to try their speech on us. I try and bring some candy or treats with me when ever we go out so I can give it away to the kids; they have so little and are mostly dirty and raggedly dressed. Not all mind you, but given the economic and socially disruptive environment they have grown to accept as life they are pitiful by our living standards.

Just got back from a small mission outside the wire with the Major, someone dug up a bunch of mortar rounds and other ammo outside our compound so EOD [explosive ordinance disposal] has to come later and blow them up.

I went out with the garbage truck this morning to provide security and it was a sad sight to say the least. Two dozen children from the ages of 3 to 14 or 15 were there fighting to get to our trash. The security isn't for the driver or us but to keep the kids from climbing up onto the vehicle and injuring themselves. They just jump into the pit [still burning] and pull out anything of value before someone sets it on fire; meanwhile the trash is cascading down on them from above. Quite a sight. I remember seeing the same thing in Korea so many years ago. One of the guys asked me to take some pictures but, after witnessing that spectacle I would have felt shameful to have exploited their plight. Something's are just to tragic to simply take snapshots of so, instead I found one of the two adults present, caught his eye and with my left hand over my heart said "Salaam A-likem" "Peace upon you" which showed him respect and I hope a small level of human understanding.

Hello again, had to go on duty {Sergeant of the guard] for my shift. Some of us NCO's have had some difficulty impressing upon the kids [nineteen/twenty something] the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in. The easy part would be to say were in a foreign country that has known only war for more than one generation where most families have lost members to its insatiable appetite. Another would be to tell them as I have already have that there are people out there who would gladly kill you just because of the clothes your wearing. This uniform that we wear so proudly is just a target for those who wish nothing more than anarchy to rein here again. Then they would be free to move back into the area and terrorize the local population with their polluted sense of righteousness. However, sometimes an abject lesson comes along that is just too easy to ignore.

Yesterday a suicide bomber blew himself up in downtown Herat trying to kill the local police chief/interim Governor. He was unsuccessful and luckily no others around him were injured. If you can imagine a small block of New York with ten thousand motor bikes and bicycles all trying to use the same road and sidewalk as twenty thousand others you'll soon get the point, that no one else was hurt was a small miracle. It was near some of the same road I had traveled yesterday pulling security with the interpreter and the maintenance chief. So I found a picture of the bomber on the web, just what was left of him surrounded by a crowd that had formed, and I made everyone in my squad look at it and try to picture one of us there that could have been killed if we didn't watch our six or we fell asleep on post.

All it takes is a second, a moment you let your guard down and feel complacent and it reaches up and bites you in the ass.

Unfortunately in war there is no room to grade on a curve or produce the will needed to put the Genie/bullet back in the bottle/barrel.
Please my love, don't think me cruel or heartless but, if I'm going to bring all these men home in one piece, both body and soul, we may have to become a little of that which we detest. Remember the only thing you said to me when I told you I was leaving? You said come home in one piece. Well I’m and I will.
Kiss our children for me and tell Dev to remember Daddy and his soldiers in his prayers.

I love you

[Reprinted with the expressed permission of the Queen.]

1 comment:

  1. thanks
    sounds like any of the vilages or trash dumps we had in VN.
    you write well!
    my son is near manus.