To All the Rough Riders

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My unit’s nickname and radio call-sign was “Rough Rider”–a jaunty moniker in keeping with all the other sporty unit designators in sector. “Big Guns,” “Dog,” “Headhunter,” and “Glory” are just a few others that come quickly to mind now.

To be a Rough Rider was really something in my book. I wanted everyone on the team, and everyone else in our sector, to recognize the Rough Riders as a thoroughly professional, fearless unit. Our charge to to help the Afghan National Army with whom we were aligned grow as a military organization, and to do that we had to establish mutual trust and respect. As things went in Khowst and Paktia provinces, the only way to do that was to share danger and hardship. The soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Rough Rider team never let me down.

At the end of June, alas, most of my team and I were reassigned as part of a large re-disposition of the American forces in Afghanistan. The changes brought to a close the mentoring mission as it had existed for several years. Time will tell if the new strategy helps us win the war any more quickly–of course I hope so. But it will be hard for anybody to have as many adventures, to appreciate the Afghan soldiers as much, or feel as tangible a sense of accomplishment as those who were fortunate enough to serve on an Embedded Transition Team.

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