Wanted to chime in about some of the comments on this post while shamelessly plugging the blog Shem and I started last month. Our efforts pale in comparison to Michaels - I have been a fan of his from the very start and we really enjoyed hosting him. He has also provided much encouragement and support for our new blog. If you want to see more pictures and read a few stories from the years we have been here please stop in at www.blog.freerangeinternational.com
A couple of observations – In my four years in Afghanistan I have never seen a woman working in the fields. That is men's work and they are exceptional farmers. I have been told that women work the fields in Nuristan where the people are ethnically and linguistically different than the rest of Afghanistan but do not know that to be true.
We were wearing the ID cards on or arms needed for access military bases but that is not why we wear them outside the wire. We wear them for the protection they provide from the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the uniformed branch of the National Directorate of Security (NDS.) They are not too big a problem around Jalalabad but are in Kabul where the summary imprisonment of international security operatives can happen at any time. Our embassies do not care about security contractors being arrested and will do little to help you. I know of men who have spent weeks in jail while their companies come up with enough money to free them. They had Afghan weapons permits, letters from “their general” in the MoI, they were on legitimate contracts and were legal in every which has nothing to do with getting arrested here. The only defense against that is a valid military or ISAF CAC card which we have due to contracts from our detection dog business combined with the ability to talk your way clear of trouble. It helps to speak a little Dari in those kinds of situations.
And to Sean Jones - you my friend have not a clue of which you speak. We have bombed compounds which contained woman and children - mostly because high value targets ran into those compounds signing the death warrant for all the people inside. Ran like little girls is one way to put it if I were to match the tone and tenor of your post - that is not how I'd phrase it. I have seen men panic when confronted by the prospect of facing American fighting men. They run into walls, into cars, into trees, into each other and into sometimes into compounds full of woman and children. They are being driven by the primitive part of their brain and are trying to do one thing - survive. It is futile for them to run we would prefer they stand and fight but they always run and so they die winded.
But we have made mistakes and hit compounds where there were no Taliban - not that many but it has happened. I have written about how to avoid this and will be writing much more in the future - it is not acceptable and our military knows this. They now take such extraordinary prevent these accidents that frequently we probably should. There are hundreds of Taliban walking around today because they ducked into a compound which we knew contained woman and children. To compare that to the Soviet policy of destroying entire villages is ridiculous. To say that the soviets were better fighters at the small unit level and better at hand to hand fighting is admitting you know nothing about the soviet army, their battles here, or the American military man. Two words for you my Dari speaking friend "Boro Koshad" and I mean it.
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