COP Shangri-La, Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan:
So it’s been a couple weeks. Been pretty busy some days, other days leave me without words. It’s like we have entered that strange phase in dating. The one where you, the readers, and I, the writer, have gone to dinner, caught a flick, spent some time together but things at work have kept us apart for a bit. Now I don’t know whether to call you or not. Maybe you’re not interested anymore and it’s time to move on. Nuts for you though. While my dates may block my number or get a restraining order, I will continue to pester you at convenience of the war.
Also, be advised, for the most part I’ll try to keep the seriously macabre events and details out of these updates. Not only are they inappropriate to share, but I’m not sure what I’d even say about them. They just are. Know that while I won’t report U.S. casualties here, there are happening throughout the theatre, and frequently. You at home give thanks every day for what they do. In fact, you should take the next weekend and go to your local military hospital and thank someone with a purple heart. When your schedule appears too busy, just know that the twenty year-old missing his legs or with spinal damage has “re-learning to walk” at the top of his.
Temperature’s rising here in Zhari. Warm days and cool breeze are giving way to sweltering heat and high winds. The conflict is also gaining momentum. Back and forth it is for this counterinsurgency. One week we do some seriously good work blowing up IED factories, the next the incompetent ANP (Afghan National Police) decides to allow near five hundred Taliban fighters to escape. It is very, very frustrating. They dug a damned tunnel. Seriously, the oldest scheme to exfiltrate incarceration in the book. It’s like they watched Shawshank Redemption one night during chow and Terry Taliban ordered a poster of Justin Beiber to cover the hole he was digging. Get busy livin’, or get busy martyrin’…
It’s incredible. A three hundred and sixty meter long tunnel contains several dump trucks full of dirt, and it most certainly did not end up on the baseball field. Let us not be naive though, if no one on the planet could be so mentally deficient as to allow this to happen accidently, then it must have been enabled by the ANSF guarding them. Thanks guys, the job wasn’t tough enough already. Corruption among the Afghan government and the forces it commands consistently backpedals on the progress we make. A dirty cop in Kandahar is just like a dirty cop at home. They wreck public confidence in the authority.
Oh, and the Taliban taking credit for the shooting in Kabul? Bull. They would take credit for the tornadoes in Texas, or heart disease, or obesity if it hurt American soldiers. If there was a way they could align themselves with my friend Big Tobacco, I’m sure they would acknowledge that smoking only causes cancer because the Taliban made it like that. There was an argument, the ANA pilot never learned how to share his feelings by using his words like everybody else did in kindergarden. Too much religious indoctrination, not enough finger painting. He lost it and started shooting. Another reason why education at a young age is important to develop civilized responses.
It’s odd to mention civilized responses in war. The whole thing is senselessly violent and the bad guys are ensuring that the innocent people get the rawest of deals. This is the best way to describe why we are here. We are here, ironically, to reduce violence with violence. Our forces bring cold controlled aggression in a meticulous and deliberate manner against hostiles. They represent the unchecked, the chaotic brutality. Once we have whipped the bad guys thoroughly enough, then it will lessen the beatings, the intimidations, the straight up gangland style murders committed by the Taliban. A forward looking person might point out that we wont be there for much longer, what then? Then, ladies and gentlemen, if Afghanistan cannot protect itself, the raw deal will return.
The shower drama continues. When the shower shack was complete, there were live wires discovered running from the pump into the building. Clearly not up to OCEA(sp) standards. SPC Mattson, our former general contractor, found the problem before anyone became crispy. Of course I took action, though it seems the Zhari District Better Business Bureau phone number is out of order. We might try to get some prefabs from Wilson, though with our luck the one guy with any RPG skill would blow them up on the way here.
Some people have asked me about our helmet coverings, and the answering makes it opportune to explain our divisional affiliation for those of you familiar with the patch chart. Most of you know I am based out of Fort Riley, Kansas with the 1st Infantry Division, but knowing that and looking at units deployed, you’ll not find a Big Red One (1st ID) in Kandahar Province. This is because my Squadron has been attached to a brigade from the 10th Mountain . Climb to Glory, more or less. They must be throughly chapped that the Zhari area looks much more like eastern Kansas than upstate New York. No mountains here, buddy. Anyhow, the netting on our helmets is for camouflage, and is a personal touch from the brigade sergeant major. We were really suspicious and cynical of it to begin with, but when weed is tall and the grape fields deep, it helps. Gives the TB fits when their spotters lose track of us. Love it.
When you’re thinking about things to send, media is what we are starving for currently. Newspapers, magazines, books, movies, music would all be great for morale. Don’t spend anything crazy, but if you burn a CD of new songs it would help give my guys a connection to home. I know there are those of you with access to digital movies, I’m not picky about the source, ahem. Also, newspapers would achieve the same goals. Local ones to show my men that a world exists that doesn’t smell like rotted plants and burning trash. Snacks are always a solid bet too. We greatly appreciate anything that y’all send.
Staying nine and a half hours ahead, HE heavy, and until next time faithful readers,
1LT Wm Treadway