**a friend of a friend's husband is serving overseas in the military--this is an update he sent home and i thought it was so moving and interesting and encouraging that i'd pass it on (family names have been changed)
Friends and Family,
I was standing at attention this morning holding a salute during the Star Spangled Banner playing at our 9/11 remembrance ceremony here at Camp Eggers and thought about the irony of where I'm standing and the significance of this day, September 11th. I thought about the events seven years ago and its ongoing effect on our nation and my own life in uniform. It occurred to me to send out an update as I had been doing (occasionally) the last 7 months, but also give you a more reflective and informational synopsis of how things are going here in Afghanistan. Also, I want to tell you why we're still here.
I have absolutely enjoyed the last 7 months I've spent building the Afghan National Army Air Corps and working along side these brave warriors. This has been the highlight of my Air Force career. I've found that the Afghans really do appreciate everything we (the United States) are doing for their country. Our sacrifices do not go unnoticed by the Afghans I've come across (civilian and military). The Afghans as a "nation" (if you can call this a nation....really a bunch of tribes) have been fighting for thousands of years, it's really the only constant this country has ever known. From Alexander, Ghengis Khan, British, Russian, Taliban, and now the insurgency, this country has rarely had peace or stability. It is the 4th poorest country in the entire world. The lack of infrastructure, police force, centralized government contributed to the vacuum that was filled by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Our role here since 2001 has been to help establish a stable government, solid infrastructure, non-narcotic based economy, and prevent radical islamic terrorists from basing here.
Let me contrast our role in rebuilding this country, their government, restoring peace and security…with Iraq. The fight in Iraq is critically important too, however, the Iraqi's have oil. Oil = money and a strong economy. Once the Iraqi's stop fighting amongst themselves (Sunni vs Shiite) they will unite against the terrorists and rebuild their own country. That is happening right now if you watch the news. The surge worked. So eventually, they will have a strong economy and can fund their govt, infrastructure, and military without relying completely on the United States and its allies.
Afghanistan's economy is practically non-existent & not capable of supporting any of the infrastructure, or agencies required of a modern nation without outside help. This will likely be the case for decades to come. What the Afghans are very capable of doing however is fighting! I am not directly involved in kinetic (offensive) operations but rather advising, training, and helping build the Afghan National Army. We are making great progress building infrastructure, growing and training the ANA & Air Corps, and consequently they are bringing the fight to the Insurgents big time. As the Afghan military capability increases, the International Security force numbers will decrease accordingly. Eventually, our role here will be minimal as active combatants but we will still need to support this country financially, with technical expertise, and as allies deterring other nations from seeking to invade or harm Afghanistan.
We are here fighting, advising, training, and supporting the Afghans because Al Qaeda & others like them seek to destroy our western way of life. Make no mistake about that, Al Qaeda and other similar radical Islamic groups seek to impose their views on the world. They seek to destroy the United States and all free nations as we know them. This is not my personal opinion it is fact and can be verified by numerous unclassified sources. They do not want to live peacefully and co-exist with the rest of the world. Their agenda became very clear on 9/11 and they have not changed course since then. The fight is here, right now, and must be won. If we weren't fighting them here, we'd surely be fighting them on American soil and that simply is not an option. This "war on terror" will not be won this year, next year, or even within the next decade. This will be a long and painful struggle that we must not lose. I am confident the radical terrorists & insurgents will be defeated in Afghanistan as they are beginning to now in Iraq. The enemy knows they cannot defeat us on the battlefield. The enemy's strategy is to outlast the "western world's" will to fight. They are content not to win, but simply not to lose. History has shown that Americans have no stomach for a long and protracted war.
Just yesterday, Joy was asked why I was here. She was told, "we need to bring all the boys home." In the end of that conversation (Jana is one heck of a strong woman who agrees with me on why we're here) they agreed to disagree. Unfortunately, I see our country's general attitude as the same. People forget the pain and anger they felt seven years ago. The fact that there hasn't been a second attack in seven years is no accident! Trust me, the enemy is trying. You would be astonished to learn how hard the enemy has tried to repeatedly attack the United States again. Just because you don't hear about our successes on the news doesn't mean they aren't occurring regularly. The media will continue to only report the sensational bad news which fits a certain agenda. The military and governement also will continue not to release classified information related to herculean successes in the GWOT. I do feel that the Govt needs to do a better job of telling the story of what is really going on but honestly, people don't want to hear it. Please think about how great our country and way of life is. Please consider that "bringing the boys home" is exactly what the enemy wants. We do that right now and they win. I disagree and feel there things worth sacrificing for. Anyway, that's why I'm here. I'll send pictures and stories in my next update.
Stay in touch & keep us in your prayers,