Fighting season is upon us here in Kandahar Province. I’m sure some of you have read about the last ‘offensive push’ here in Afghanistan. I can assure you that we are apart of it and Air Assaults into known enemy territory is a weekly occurrence across my Brigade. We are either in the planning stages of one, or executing it ... So when the execution of our major operations do begin I sit in our operations center and help the Paratroopers on the ground get the support they need through coordination of fixed wing aircraft, attack helicopters, or additional ground support. We often watch the action on the ground through a series of camera towers or unmanned aerial aircraft, or sometimes even fighter aircraft that stream live video into our operations center. It helps us battle track our men and ‘service’ the bad guys.
We also work tons of governance and economic projects on the days we aren’t fighting the enemy. Some of these types of things include building schools for children, improving canal systems to improve farmers’ ability to irrigate their crops (lots of poppy too), or setting up ‘Shuras’ (like a city council) that represents the voice of the local people. ... Another thing we do is help train and mentor the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) which is made up of regular army, national and local police who provide security. This security ideally allows time for the governance of Afghanistan to take root and function without an unreasonable amount of fear of retaliation. All this is in an attempt to build the framework for a self sustaining Afghanistan.
|Afghan Army, with the Afghan National Flag and it’s country behind it.|
Unfortunately the Brigade has lost another 3 men since my last email. One was killed when handling munitions in a supply yard. It is still unknown what exploded, but whatever blew killed 1 and wounded another 7. Another Trooper stepped on a very large IED and was killed instantly. The last Trooper, a kid by the name of _______, was a Private that was in my Troop as when I was Commander. I remember the day I shook his hand when he arrived to Fort Bragg. He was a 22 year old kid, skinny bean pole, so we gave him a M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW) and trained him to be one hell of a Paratrooper. (He) was a friendly kid, with a quite demeanor, but always had a smile ... Unfortunately during one of the very many air assaults we do he was killed by enemy small arms fire. His wife is due any day now.
The wounded have stacked up across the Brigade, more than I can remember now. Amputees so far average around 1 a week, plus many more who receive shrapnel or gunshot wounds from IED, RPGs, small arms, mortars and anything that goes boom.
|Memorial Service in Afghanistan for fellow soldier|
|Convoy being prepped for patrol|
More known to you is another soldier I have worked with ... SSG Travis Mills who many of you likely read about in the news. He is the soldier who recently stepped on an IED and lost all four of his limbs. I’m told he’s only the 4th quadruple amputee to survive his wounds in US Military History. Even more amazing is how as the MEDEVAC helicopter and medical flight crew took him and the two other soldiers wounded in the incident to Kandahar Air Field. Travis kept trying to get up and check on his other soldiers to make sure ‘they were ok’ (one with superficial shrapnel wounds, the other with an amputated arm), he even managed to give one of his wounded soldiers a wink to assure him everything was going to be ok. He even told the flight medic he was sorry for getting blood all over his helicopter. Amazingly his spirits remain high and his nursing staff love him. A guy whose life has sadly and dramatically changed forever can still manage to tell a joke and talk a nurse into bringing in an IPad so he can dance in his hospital bed, even through the immense pain. The latest update on his story is that LT Dan (Gary Sinise) is going to build him a Smart Home, adapted especially to him, that will be full of features that make his long journey through life a little easier.
I want to thank all of you for your support here. I have received many packages while here with all kinds of goodies and toiletries that I assure you welcomed comforts. I may not be able to use all of them myself, but I always put out what I don’t need for other Paratroopers here to have and use. So thank you again from myself and my fellow Paratroopers.
Take Care Everyone and always remember no matter what political and financial troubles our own great Country may currently have, I assure you there are few places that even compare in this world to our Country, and we are all very fortunate to live there, enjoy her freedoms, and be proud to call ourselves Americans.
|The netting you see is designed to break up anti-armor RPG rounds so they don’t penetrate the hull. Knowing that danger is out there, also notice the little kid waving at us.|