Saturday, June 29, 2013

Month 10 Day 29

Notebook entry
Five reports given, 1174 reports, lost Afghan national army ambulance, executive officer meeting, priority intelligence requirements, detainee, combined combat operations center, Taliban.

Journal entry
The Day started earlier than most.  The ANA medics came up and asked me to wake up Doc Kucera at 0500 because they lost their ambulance and ambulance driver.  I sent them away and told them to look for themselves for at least the next hour-and-a-half, and after that, then maybe they could talk to Doc Kucera.

I met up wih the XO in the morning.  I explained how I was not going to be giving the answers to the S2, how the questions he was asking the S2 (the number of TB in an area and the population) were not going to help him win the campaign. I was going to move on and talk about corruption on the camp, the next thing he wanted to talk to me about, but Maj Davidson came in.  A TB patient had been taken in by the ANA, but the GSU commander had decided that rather than use the container earmarked as an isolation facility for an isolation facility, that he would allow the 5th kandak commander to use it every couple of months or so when he came down. This was brought up to the General his suggestion to the Major ‘he should live in your tent.’  I stepped out and promised that I would visit the XO later in the day.

I worked with Maj Tawoos on PIRs.  He has a rudimentary understanding of the military decision-making process. That is nice.  He was engaged, and we made some headway. 

There was a little drama about trying to get the next guy to go to the Combined COC.  I don’t understand why they don’t want to go.  The Maintenance officer was all about checking out what women he could buy in other countries,

I tried to do visit the XO in the afternoon, but nap time has been extended I don’t know if it is prep for Ramadan or what, but nap time now goes from like 1200 to 1600 every day.  I interrupted the S2’s nap time at 1530 because I had something important to talk to him about.  Capt Petranzio tells me that they are still holding the shopkeeper who beat up the two Afghan Soldiers, the shopkeepers from the Durzay bazaar have all closed up their shops in protest. The ostensible reason the kandak is holding them is that they want the Brigade S2 officer to investigate.  I go talk to the Brigade S2 officer and he says that is not the case.  He has no desire to investigate the shopkeeper further.  If anything, he would like to investigate the soldiers when they come out of the lockup.  He says that he believes they were probably using their weapons and position to try to order the locals around and get energy drinks. The locals fought back because there were only two of them and they got their asses kicked.  I said yah, well two Hazara boys walking alone in a bazaar full of Pashtuns, well that’s a recipe for an ass-kicking.  He said ‘well you know about that, huh?’ I asked him to write a cipher or talk to the general about releasing the shopkeeper. I worked on him for a long time.  I tried to include as little as possible I tried to get him to write ‘I don’t want to investigate this shopkeeper.’ He said ‘you are making me take responsibility for this.  I asked him to go speak to the general with me and get him to sign a release order for this guy because they are not allowed to hold him over 120 hours.  He said ‘I have already told him twice, if you and I both go, I might as well bring a stick’ by which he meant, my presence would force the general to act, and he didn’t want to put the general in that position and thus break his relationship with him.  I went to speak to the General.  He was lounging on the floor of his room eating pistachios and talking to the OpsO.  I laid down next to him.  I asked him what was going on.  He said ‘I have given the order to turn him over to the local authorities because he is a Talib.’ Taken aback somewhat by the abrupt comment and his assurance without any evidence I said ‘OK, well when is that going to happen, the rules say you are only allowed to hold someone for 120 hours.’  ‘I don’t care he’s a Talib, but I will write up the order tonight and he will be moved tonight or tomorrow.’  ‘OK, great well I’ll let everyone down at the kandak know what is going on.’ I stood up and told the General how good the picture of him with president Karzai pinning on his General’s rank with Marshal Fahim looked.  His little ego liked that. 

I go back to the S2 and tell him what is going on. The the shopkeeper will be transferred to the NDS.  He kind of looks down.  I say, ‘what is wrong?’ he says ‘well that shopkeeper probably doesn’t have enough money to be transferred to NDS.’ I nod and agree, he means that the guy can’t pay the bribe to get out of lockup. ‘This is a wery wery big problem.’ He says in English.  I agree.  ‘there are guys out there playing both sides of the fence in NDS.’  He says ‘its not just NDS, it’s the ANCOP, the ANA, the ANP, everywhere.’ He says that he has heard that there are a bunch of ANP checkpoints charging local people money to use the roads, just like there were in the warlord time.  I nod.  I say ‘Well you are right there are a lot of people in it for themselves. The poor people only want to survive the next day, week, or harvest and the educated people like you care first about themselves then about their brothers, then about their cousins, then about their tribe, and then, way off down the road perhaps they care about Afghanistan.’  He says yes you are right.  I remind him that ‘I haven’t forgotten what tribe the General is from.’ He is a Hazara from Mazar-i-Sharif like one of the boys who was attacked.  It goes without saying that I have not forgotten what tribe my S2 is from, he is a Pashtun. 
‘How do we change it?  You know this better than I do, tell me how to fix it and I will’
‘This is a wery wery big problem’ ‘You are lucky’ he says
‘how’s that?’
‘You get to go back to your country in two months, I have to go on living here, I have to think about my future.’  
He wasn’t wishing to be an American he was merely stating the fact that he had to live in the system and didn’t have the luxury to look at it from the outside like I did, and he needed to survive.
‘I am thinking about your future to, what kind of country are you going to have in a few years?’
Again I repeated my plea ‘I have never failed at anything in my life.  I have spent a year here and I don’t think that after we leave in two years the south is going to hold on for more than two years and the North won’t hold out for more than ten. What do I need to do to fix it.’
‘You did the best that you could, you aren’t President Obama.’
‘I’m not sure that even he has the power to fix this.  The problem is in people’s hearts.’
He nodded ‘Zendagee’ long life to you
‘A long life to your country.’

After that we decided to work on the weather.  As I walked out.  The General was directing some poor private on how to use the 2000 gallon tanker to water his little patch of green,  leaning back belly protruding while the other man scrambled around on his hands and knees.

I came back and I talked to Bashir about it.  He said ‘Americans know that they can’t leave now, they learned that lesson after the Soviets were defeated by the Mujahedeen. I know because when I was in Chicago I met a guy who was studying for his bachelor’s in political science and he was writing a paper about it.’

‘brother, most of America doesn’t know anything about Afghanistan. They only know that it costs a lot of money and they don’t understand why all of the people don’t rise up and accept freedom and democracy like they do.  They believe that inside of every Afghan there is a little American just waiting to bust out.  Just like we believe that every Afghan officer is like us.’

‘You know that the next generation will change this place. There has been thirty years of war here.  All of these people are just stockpiling all of their things so that in case it all collapses they will have something to live off of, or something to take with them out of the country. There are now universities here,under the Taliban there was only one university in the entire country, now there are more than 20.  I pay for all of my brothers to go to university each month.  I pay $200 for each of them to go to school each month. These officers, they are old, they all trained under the soviets, the next generation, they will take over, these guys will die off and then the country will be stable.’

‘Ten years of concerted effort in Kabul and about three years of concerted effort here in the south, I don’t know if it’s enough.’

‘America will keep spending, they have to keep spending, the country can’t afford this Army’

I thought about the Galicians, how for 400 years the Castillians had control of that little territory, and now, 30 years after the nation was recognized, they are all speaking Galician again, playing folk music etc.  They just didn’t want to change. 

I went to chow. Came back and checked out the new shower buildings where the tile had been laid on top of bear dirt, but it was tested using the jump around on it method by the contractor.  It was awesome.

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