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Thread: MRD's Sitrep on Afghanistan

  1. #1
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Exclamation MRD's Sitrep on Afghanistan

    Major Robert Dump was kind enough to post an account of a day in his life in the 'Stan. Unfortunately, he posted it in the Backroom, which has a restricted audience, so I'm taking it upon myself to re-post it here in its entirety. The whole Org deserves to enjoy this.

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    Memorial Day 2010

    We woke at around 4 am and began loading our vehicles. We left at 5:15, stomachs full of muffins and cereal we stole from the DFAC the night before because we knew we would leave before breakfast. We drove through the KG pass, on a route that was "black", in order to reach the district center of Waze Zadran, an area where my unit has yet to go. The intent was to drop in on the Monday Shura, a meeting of Elders, and pitch some of our programs.

    Waze Zadran, according to my translator, is made up of mountain people that are akin to US hillbillies. Just before we arrived, 2 men had been detained for shooting two men to death from another tribe. The crime of the dead was cutting down scarce trees on the other tribes land, of which the border is not recognized or agreed upon by any party. The men being detained did not believe they committed a crime. They even posed for a picture when they saw I had a camera.

    My team does agricultural programs and education, much of which is common knowledge with a western 6th grade education. Such knowledge was lost with these folks long ago. We are often confused with the PRT, which is a group of Army, Navy, Air Force, State Department and USAID people who rebuild infrastructure, minus agriculture, which they leave to us. The problem with being mistaken with the PRT is that 3 deployments ago, a bunch of PRT commanders apparently had a race to see who could finish the most projects. The Paktya Province PRT started 115 projects. The Khowst started 105. None of those were finished, most not even started, by the time those units left. A PRT is susally around 40 experts with 40 security. It does not take a genius to understand that in this environment, and with typical beaurucratic red tape, 40 people cannot do 115 projects in 9 months.

    The following 2 PRTs, in both district, have not started a single project and have focused only on finishing what was started. The broken promises are immense, and both are now down to less than 50. They are still over cap, as at some point within the last 12 months someone smarter than the others capped all PRT and ADT projects at 35. My unit, the ADT, is currently at 34, but we are about to finish 12 in about 2 weeks.

    The Shura members who did not come were scared of the Taliban and with good reason. Two days ago, the Taliban treid to recruit from a village near the District Center, and the elders of the village told them to F off. Funny thing, this village doesn't cooperate with NATO forces either, so to call them our allies would be a huge stretch. Nonetheless, the Taliban did not care for the rebuff, and came back after dark, took the 8 oldest men from the village, and executed them in a field as their families watched. This is what we fight.

    The Shura started off on a sour note because the unit in charge of combat operations in the district -- the Battle Space Owner -- bitched at the shura about the number of IEDs found on the newly constructed KG Pass. Rather than thanking them for braving the shura (did I mention the DC got 22 IDF shells dropped on it the day before?) the BSO decided to castigate the elders for 15 minutes. I am not naive enough to believe that at least one or two of those 9 men in that room are in cahoots with the Taliban, especially the way a couple of them behaved and their body language. Nonetheless, that was no way to start a meeting.

    Then it was our turn, during which the sub governor quickly pointed out broken promises of the past. We then pointed out that we were not the PRT, and we listed 48 projects that the unit has completed in its 4 months here. I might also add that 12 of those projects were left over from the Tennessee ADT, because they didn't leave the FOB their last 4 months here due to command idiocy and in-fighting that got several 0-4s and senior NCOs removed from their positions after a huge fiasco. In 4 months, we have completed more than Tennessee did in 9 months.

    The elders were impressed with out track record, and all seemed well, the then Afghan in them kicked in. Despite the dozens of potential projects we pitched -- telling the sub governor to pick the 5 most important projects and locations -- the SG then rattled off a list of everything they needed, including lots of things that are not our expertise, things that would personally and financially benefit him and the elders, and he even went so far as to say we needed to provide refreshments at future shuras. He said we cannot split our attention between multiple districts (typical tribal foo foo) and that his district wanted all of our attention. We pointed out that we were here for all afghans, not just him and his cronies. He complained that if we do one or two projects for a couple of villages, that the other communities would be mad at him. We told him "welcome to politics" and that he better choose the villages in the most need then. Again, he repeated riduculous demands, and we repeated what we were williung to do.

    So far, our two most successful projects have been poultry keeping and beekeeping, where we provide the training, animals and supplies for poor, disabled and widowed women to be able to support themselves. At half of these programs, particularly the ones in the more liberal north, there are plenty of women and little girls to attend the training. But at places like Waze Zadran there are mysteriously "no women available." Obviously, this is crap, you know it and I know it, and we all know why they don't want women -- not even widows or little girls for gods sake -- to be educated or know how to take care of themselves.

    Anyway, the poultry and bee class we pitched will -- if it happens in this district-- be only for a 100 or so young males, due to cultural and security concerns, mostly cultural...I can't imagine getting 100 kids to the class would be any more of a security issue than getting 100 women there. One of my interpeters told me they just don't want women to learn, my other interp said that he believed them about security and women being talked to school would anger the Taliban 10 fold. Regardless, in districts where we have a strong presence and solid security and virtually no Taliban or Haqqani, women are still denied this training.

    On the way out, I secured 14 duffel bags I had brought in a trailer and rallied the children. There were probably 100+, so I whipped out the bull horn and gave it to my Terp to tell the children to be orderly and share with the girls or no one would get anything. As you might have guessed, that went over like a turd in a punch bowl and I practically got knocked down when they saw I had hand crank radios. I retreated back into the ANP checkpoint so I would have a control point, and had one of my men pass out stuff to the boys while I passed out stuff to the girls out of view of the boys.

    To the boys we gave duffel bags with the Afghan flag, ANP and ANA recruitment propoganda, notebooks and pencils. To the girls I gave hand crank radios, coloring books and crayons, food from care packages, mardi gras beads, brushes and sandals....Then I gave them a quick class on how to hide the stuff in their clothes so the boys would not kick the crap out of them and take their stuff -- something that happens every time i pass stuff out. We then distracted the boys by throwing about 30 rubber balls down a hill, and I sent the girls off with their loot.

    We all shook hands, we reminded them that we are not the loser PRT, and we reminded them that things sometimes work very slow, especially when 1 year deployments ensure ever-changing teams and commanders, and when construction workers cant even finish the KG pass or G2 roads because they keep getting assassinated. It is, after all, a war zone. And the army has never been efficient at anything other than killing people.

    On the way home, back through the KG pass on a 2 hour ride at 9500 feet above sea level, we took 3 RPG shots from 3 different directions, all of which missed, one of which blew up a car with a father and two children inside. The occupants were barely scathed because the shot hit the engine and they were all alseep in the back seat. The bad guys did not stick around to talk to our guns, but certain equipment which I cannot discuss did enable us to get accurate descriptions of all 3. After cleaning up the scenes and watching birds hunt down 2 of the 3, I gave the rest of my toys and books to the kids from the car and we left.

    Back to the FOB at 1530. At dinner, the DFAC had ribs and prime rib and ice cream in celebration of the holiday. Halfway through my meal, I got a call that we were needed for QRF.

    It's funny, despite being second rate citizens due to being National Guard, despite getting into tiffs with other units who think we are unprofessional because we roll our sleeves up on patrol on hot days, we were not the jackass regular army folk who rolled out on a 22 vehicle 47 mile unpaved convoy and decided not to take a wrecker. One of the civilian Jingle Trucks, which was towing an MRAP on a trailer, rolled off the road and into a ravine. Now we get to go pull them out.

    Nothing happened that time around.

    Checked the office before coming to room, and saw that, as usual, the Taliban's verison of their attack on us not only said they killed everyone in the convoy, but they denied we popped two of their people and made no mention of the civilian property damage. I responded to their story by sending my own out to my radio and tv stations -- complete with funny headlines (the highlight of my job sometimes) and came back here to drink a diet pepsi, check the org on my $300 per month slow internet, clean my toe nails and sleep under my bed.

    Have a nice day.
    Last edited by Lemur; 06-03-2010 at 22:21.
    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them ... well, I have others." — Groucho Marx

  2. #2
    the G-Diffuser Senior Member pevergreen's Avatar
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    Default Re: MRD's Sitrep on Afghanistan

    Regardless of points of view, I'm glad to know he is well, happy to know that he is doing positive work in the area.

    Good luck MRD, I'll throw back a cold one for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by TosaInu
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  3. #3
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: MRD's Sitrep on Afghanistan

    Thanks for the sitrep! Wish you all the best and hope that you can be as safe and secure as possible to still be able to do you missions.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    Senior Member Senior Member gaelic cowboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: MRD's Sitrep on Afghanistan

    Very interesting stuff keep well MRD
    They slew him with poison afaid to meet him with the steel
    a gallant son of eireann was Owen Roe o'Neill.

    Internet is a bad place for info Gaelic Cowboy

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