Monday, June 24, 2013

Month 10 Day 24

Notebook entry
10 reports given, Skype, Sammy, what for, interviews, sleep.

Journal entry
I slept in until about 0730.  Did the regular 3S routine, cut my hair and came back.

I got on the phone and on Skype with Suzan because the connection wasn't fast enough to do both at the same time.  I missed her even more for having seen her.

After that I went to interview two guys who came in from Durzay who were beat up and shot by the TB. This is what I came up with.

Interview #1
Time 1140 Local
Interviewee: Ali Riza, Sgt 2nd Kandak
Place of Birth: Mazar-i-Sherif
Height: 65in, weight 150lbs
Marital status: married
Place: Clinic, Camp Garmsir

After initial questions about his biography to determine a baseline the interviewee was asked to describe the circumstances that led to him being in his hospital bed.  This was an open-ended question with no prompting.
‘Two of us left our post looking for food.  First we went to a shop with energy drinks.  I purchased some with the Pakistani Money that I had.  I wanted to call home and next door there was a shop that allowed me to make the call, so I went in there.  There were three men in the shop.  The shopkeeper said that two of them were his relatives.  They asked him if me if I would like to stay for dinner, and I said no. At that time the two relatives left the building. I asked the shopkeeper for change to make a telephone call.  While I was on the phone my soldier came in and told me that the two guys who went outside were smoking hashish drinking Fanta.  As he was speaking the men returned to the shop on a motorcycle and began to shoot, they shot me in the arm and then in the butt, then they ran out of ammunition.  I tried to return fire, but they pulled on my weapon and because I only had one good arm, they pulled it free.  They tried to shoot me with it, but they didn’t know how to use it, so they started to beat me with it.  The shopkeeper also started to beat me. While they were beating my weapon broke from the force.  I tried to grab the shopkeeper’s legs to keep him from beating me, but I was not able to stop him.  I made my way out of the shop and tried to run back to the post, but I could not.  I saw a shepherd boy and yelled to him to tell the soldiers and Marines that we were being attacked.  The next thing I remember is the Marine Doctor telling me to stay awake, giving me medicine.  After that the next thing I remember is being in the Marine hospital. Now I don’t know what is going to happen to me they might put me in jail.  I tried to hold onto my weapon, but I just couldn’t.  The S2 says I am Taliban.’

Through subsequent questioning the Sergeant revealed the following.
There are five soldiers at the post.  The post is approx 300m from the Bazaar.  The Marines only have the ANA stand post in the evening, so he was free to go during the day.  Most of the patrols they do with the Marines, but since this was just a resupply they only had two soldiers.  His fellow soldiers knew that he left and gave him money to buy them things in the bazaar. As soon as he left the shop he believes his attackers got on their motorcycle and fled because they saw the shepherd boy running to get help.  He has spent four months in Durzay.  He feels bad because his soldier was hurt worse than him. He believes the shopkeeper is going to accuse him of trying to steal Fanta or pressure him into getting him some, but that doesn’t make sense because he already had Fanta.

Before beginning his narrative of events he tried to sit up to speak more emphatically. This was a break from the previous baseline, but it could be attributed to him having been questioned before by the S2 and his desire to emphasize his innocence.

Interview #2
Time 1300 Local 
Interviewee: Salim, Soldier, 2nd Kandak
Place of Birth: Bamyan
Height: 65in, weight 150lbs
Marital status: Married
Place: Combat Surgical Hospital, Camp Dwyer

After initial questions about his biography to determine a baseline the interviewee was asked to describe the circumstances that led to him being in his hospital bed.  This was an open-ended question with no prompting.
‘We left to go to Headquarters, but stopped in a bazaar at a shop with a bunch of energy drinks and bought some.  I saw the shopkeeper leave the shop and he went to meet up with two guys who were sitting some distance away.  When I approached them they moved behind the bazaar.  I came back to tell my Sergeant and when I came back they came up behind me with a motorcycle and started to shoot.  After they shot me they beat me and my sergeant with our weapons. I don’t know how my Sergeant got out of the shop.’

Through subsequent questioning the solder revealed the following:
He had not spoken to his sergeant since the event.  He claimed that they were going to Headquarters to get supplies. 

The soldier’s tone became more emphatic as he continued with his story, but none of the questions broke his natural rythmn.

The first sergeant claimed that he entered two shops, while the Soldier only claimed that they went to one shop.
The Soldier said he could did not see the sergeant leave the shop, and had not seen him leave, but the soldier did know that he left the shop.

It is the interviewer’s assessment that these soldiers left to buy food in the bazaar.  Leaving with this number of soldiers is probably a common occurrence, and not seen as irregular based on them both offering the same information with no prompting. They may or may not have tried to pressure the shopkeeper to give them energy drinks at a reduced price.  They were both attacked in the manner they described.  They were overpowered by their assailants and had their weapons taken.  It is unlikely that they sold their weapons to the Taliban.  The reason for the attack could be many.  Their small size, their ethnic/linguist/religious background (Hazara/Dari/Shia as opposed to Pashtun/Pashto/Sunni).  Their assailants could have had ties to the Taliban, but this is not necessarily the case. 
The irregularities in their stories are slight, and can be attributed to translation errors, medication, and forgetfulness. 

I spoke with Sammy about it after I was done.  I just couldn't understand why people here hate each other so much. There has to be a damn good reason to kill someone else, and I just don't see it around here.  I understand the history of these tribes and clans, but so much of what they did to each other happened 10 years ago.  Let it go.  He started saying that he doesn't understand either.  He is a Pashai, and I don't understand it, but we even see it in the terp tent Naikpai being hazara, Dinar, Tajik, Fareed, pashtun.  

I listened as Josh and Maj Davidson reported on their trip to the Corps.  The Marines up there seem to think that most ANA don't steal, and that they are not in it for themselves.  Speaking to the Danes who run the GSU up there, they were told that the GSU commander recieves about $30,000 US per month and pays off Malouk the Corps commander, directly.  I think they take it personally when you tell them their Afghans suck. 

I the afternoon we worked on turnover stuff and  Iwas ordered to take a nap.  I slept much monger than expected and the boss excused me from the meeting after I briefed my portion.  

I have been thinking about two other things.  

It doesn't matter what you want, only what is possible.  I think that should be the dictum of advising. 

I also wonder whether or not the awards process at the end of tours prevents Marines soldiers etc from being unbiased observers.  Everyone wants to feel like they made a difference.  Commanders write up awards for the hard work of subordinates and are not going to talk about the things that they couldn't accomplish because they were too hard because people are self-rationalizing.  People also start to believe what they continually say, write and read, regardless of veracity.  It is just the way people are.  This is especially true of things that people write/create themselves and put effort into.  America expects unbiased observations from the military, but is that really possible after all, they are human beings.

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