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6/19/2012

Soldiers Life in Afghanistan - Part 2

Here is Part 2 of a soldier's detailed account of life in Afghanistan. It's a tough life for our troops. Hopefully, our care packages help a bit, even if just for a few moments. Portions of the original message have been edited out.

Hello Everyone, It is about mid June here in Afghanistan and it is getting hot!  It’s 100-110 every day which is pretty awesome.  It still isn’t as hot here as it was in Kuwait or Iraq, but it is still icky ... Even though it’s hot out here I’m still pretty much pale as a ghost because I wear long sleeves and pants every day and by the time I do get in shorts and a t-shirt it’s dark outside.

... All the guys on their first deployment don’t seem to really care how long they stay here, but all the guys on their second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth deployment are loving the fact that this is a short 7 month-ish deployment.  There are guys here that have spent 48 month of the past 6 years deployed.  I have to hand it to them, they are still out here doing it.

Things are going well here for me here still.  I cannot complain too much as far as deployments go.  Given my current position I don’t get shot at or regularly come in danger too much.  The young 18-21 year old kids out in the thick of it are the ones who are really in danger and the ones whom I support.

In the past couple weeks we have identified and killed 5 bad guys before they could do harm to the Paratroopers on the ground.  These guys were all bad for various reasons:  IED emplacers, IED activators, or guys that we have identified with weapons who are maneuvering on and shooting our forces.  Doesn’t really matter to me as long as they are guilty, I’ll try to take them off the battlefield any way possible. ... 
Troops training on heavy weapons
I know it may seem that I talk light of the situation, taking another life, but the enemy holds no such consideration towards us or the people here in Afghanistan.  Another two Troopers today lost limbs to the enemy from IED blasts.  The first today was a double amputee below the knee and the second was a Triple amputee.  Although I’m not sure if he is still alive as it has just happened an hour ago.  Make no mistake, the war is still on in Afghanistan, and the sons of daughters of America are still fighting and dying here.

Our casualties have not completely been in vain here though, the Taliban in our area are definitely on their heels.  They have taken heavy casualties and lost many of their heavy weapons and caches in the area thanks to the continued deliverance of ass kickings.  That said the Taliban have had a hard time mounting much of an offensive against us.  Although they are fighting us across the battlespace as we move into their safe havens, they have not been able to mass and bring the fight to us.  Either way, we’ll beat their ass where ever they want to fight, it’s what we do.  The one tool they have, which we sustain the majority of our casualties from, are the home made IEDs they use as defensive obstacles as we move into their sanctuaries.

... He (local elder) gave us a huge tray of food with spicy chicken, some lamb thing, some spicy potatoes and then a bunch of rice and flat bread.  I ate a bunch of it and luckily didn’t get sick.  It’s a bit rough to think about where the food came from, when I had to walk through the market on the way to lunch.  The lamb and chicken hang up in what looks like a large popcorn machine, baking in the sun, on a horribly dirt street in the bazaar.  You wonder how long it’s sat there waiting to be purchased and how much longer it takes to get to your plate!  Not to mention how many flies have been on it.  The bread and potatoes were delicious though, so was the chicken.  I couldn’t do the lamb, it just looked … well…no.
"Imagine if your kids grew up ‘out there.’  I’m standing in a guard tower.   ‘Out There’ where the kids are is where we get shot at and blown up weekly.  They play there."

I also patrolled through a cemetery ... I was also struck how many of the graves were ‘small.’  Unlike our privileged mothers and youth in the U.S., families here almost always undergo natural birthing process with no anesthesia or a hospital.   It is not uncommon for still borns, or a mother to die in pregnancy, or for a child not to make it through their youth.  A community covered in IEDs doesn’t particularly help a curious and playful child’s chances either, which I have also had the misfortune of seeing.  To add on top of that we are now seeing bad guys using kids a human shields here.  That is extremely frustrating because we constantly watch them get away, obviously no one here wants to hurt the kids.  It is definitely a different culture here.  The locals are hardened by decades of war.   Happiness and safety, if you can call it that, is a much lower standard than what we might consider at home.  I know what the first thing I would do if I lived in Afghanistan would be, and that’s move…

I attached some pictures below for your viewing pleasure. Everyone have a great summer!
Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan
Troops in local city. Notice soldier kneeling.