Monday, March 26, 2007


So what's going on in Afghanistan?
The Daily Telegraph, a British rag, wrote a feature on how the good people of Ghowrak in Kandahar province, blasted a delegation of senior military officers during a local visit. It sounds like the locals are not too happy with the foreign military or the local government. The area is key for the military to disrupt Taliban supplies and operations. The Telegraph said the boys from the 82nd are on patrol there – but of course, you’ll only hear that “NATO” or “coalition” troops are there – towing the allied party line that this is not a US mission, but and Afghan-led NATO mission. Sometimes I wonder if they switched it to NATO to have the Afghan mission fade from US headlines or to have an international organization to blame should the mission not succeed.
Poppies – don’t destroy the poppies – the Afghans ask. The U.S. and its allies would rather see Afghans grow apples for pennies than have them make real cash from the opium trade. I don’t see that happening. In the Telegraph story, one 82nd paratrooper is pointing out poppy fields. "Do I care? I care about Taliban scouts."Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that 90% of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. Ah, “trainspotting.” The Brits always had a lead role in the anti-drug effort in Afghanistan. We had a British officer in our headquarters to coordinate efforts. He spoke with me often, friendly guy who wanted to know where the press were so his British pals could avoid them. We also had our press hooch right next to the boys from the DEA – again, good guys who wanted to avoid the press.


A Russian supply plane overshot the runway Monday at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost. The AP reported that none of the five Russian crew members from the Antonov AN-26 turboprop was hurt. It seems we employ contractors with Russian planes and crew to re-supply our guys. We had a larger Russian-built planes crash in between Kabul and Bagram when I was over there. No one made it out of that crash. And the food never got delivered.

Scratch out 12 notches for the US troops fighting in Paktika Sunday. Insurgents attacked a base along the border. Our guys got 12 bad guys, with two of our guys wounded and two Afghan soldiers hurt. Too bad the Army hides the achievement behind the word coalition and does not name the base or unit involved. Although, the public affairs office did issue a release to the Afghan press written in Dari (Farsi). I got a copy from the Afghan translator in the press office.That warms my heart. I started that program – Afghan media outreach – in early 2005. Before that, the military had very little contact with the Afghan press and in turn the Afghan people – Now, at least there is some information for them. If we can build their roads and school, offer and cajole their new democracy and improve their security etc. – why wouldn’t we assist them in building a thriving fourth estate to inform the people of government activity? Sadly, a friend and photographer for the AP wrote me this week – saying that the US military at Bagram does not invite the press to cover much these days. Now, only the bad news will get out. When the Army stops telling its story – the press will cover what they can catch. Shit floats, it’s easy to scrape off the surface. The good stories remain at the bottom of the pool.

Finally, my friend from the AP shot these photos from the National Museum where my little Buddhist artifact now rests – apparently next to an ancient Greek dildo! The phallus dates from the time of Alexander. Check out this photo…


Thursday Next said...

"The U.S. and its allies would rather see Afghans grow apples for pennies than have them make real cash from the opium trade."

Oh, my, the US has a long history of this sort of thing. We're setting up the country in our own image, are we not? Funny thing, though - of all industries, we never make an effort to end prostitution when re-building a nation. That might inconvenience the troops.

Thursday Next said...

Thanks so much for "Solid Kills, No Mention". I think you make a great point there and I plan to explore that in future research! Information is an important part of democracy; it unites people; it gets them involved in the changes happening to the nation. It's a cheap way of achieving our supposed goals of building democracy, actually probably THE cheapest. Why would this be on the back burner or not be done at all? I think this is a great example of the huge gap between our stated goals and actual actions, and I bet it is true for all of the many nations we have destroyed and rebuilt.