Last Four Months

In July I transitioned to a new job as the mentor to the Chief of Staff of the ANA Corps responsible for Khowst, Paktika, Paktia, and Ghazni provinces. The new position required as much daily contact with the ANA as my first position, but it was a lot safer. Almost all of our work was “inside the wire,” and when we traveled, it was always by helicopter. Still, rockets and mortars were real threats; one night an ANA truck took a direct hit from a 107mm rocket about 100m from our workplace.

It was from the vantage point of the ANA Corps headquarters that I observed the National Elections in August. We worked hard to ensure the security of the election sites in our sector, and though election day brought 188 “sigacts”–reports of enemy activity–and ten ANA KIAs, no polling site was closed because of insurgent pressure and no government or election officials were assassinated. But neither the ANA nor American soldiers were responsible for what happened inside the polling centers in regard to the casting or counting of ballots. In fact, we were strictly forbidden to be present, because the powers-that-be were determined that the elections have an Afghan, non-military face. Understood, but the military, both Afghan and US, stood the best chance of making sure the election was not tainted by the fraud and corruption that undermined what should have been a great achievement.

IMG_0946

Me presenting an award to a British Army soldier who served with us. That's the Romanian flag on the left, btw.

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