Thumbs Up

Since my last update I’ve definitely been keeping busy. I’m learning a lot about Afghanistan and the surrounding area as well as my job over here. I’ve read multiple books on operations conducted in Afghanistan before arriving here, and felt I had a decent understanding of the culture and way of life.……It’s one thing to read it and another to see it and experience it first hand.

On one of the convoys I was on headed to another FOB we drove through a local market. The street was kind of tight for our trucks but the Afghans go about their business like nothing significant is happening. I guess after 10 years of seeing US Forces they are used to it. The Afghans live simple with shops that sell fruits, nuts, liquids, and different cloths. There are very few women that come out and are seen, mostly everyone in the market and along the routes we take are predominately men with occasional children with them.

One thing that I always enjoy watching are the kids. I would say 9 out of 10 kids will come running to the sound of our convoy with their thumbs up, or waving….….the other 1 out of 10 will throw rocks and try to crack our windshields………There’s always one in the bunch…… As for the kids that give us the thumbs up I personally think that is pretty cool, and I know that is something that’s going to stick with me for a long time. For me personally it shows me that we are making a difference and that they want us to help them. Even though the Taliban are very smart and manipulative it shows us that the youth of Southern Afghanistan want a better life. Kandahar was a very “Pro Taliban” environment at one time and to see the kids accepting us says a lot to the current counterinsurgency (COIN) operations going on.

Traveling to the other FOB much closer to the city of Kandahar is also very different experience. There are more villages that consist of mud walls and old rags/cloths that have been sewn together to make a roof. As well as more people out in the public. The other FOB was a lot bigger but also not as nice T –Wall barriers (concrete walls) lined the outside, and inside consisted of hescos, bunkers, and tents. I’m pretty happy with where I currently am rather where I could be.

Learning more about the surrounding area is something I’ve taken a personal interest in. Like I said earlier I really find the Afghan culture pretty fascinating, learning about the surrounding cities and cultural principles are interesting. The area that I am in is mostly Pashto. Although their code of Pashtunwali isn’t practiced as much down in the South as it is up in Northern Afghanistan. Pashtunwali is based off of three principles hospitality, shelter/asylum, and justice/revenge. In addition to what judges a man’s honor is gold, land, and women.

It’s interesting as well to know what happens around our area of operations and then hear about it on the news hours later/days later depending on how relevant it is. Most of the time the news will leave out a lot of information or misinterpret the information.

This Roshan phone I got is kind of funny, just when I was getting used to not having a phone on me the Army wants me to have another cell phone so they can get a hold of me whenever they want. Which I have to admit can be useful at times……but seriously I’m in the middle of nowhere in a 3rd world country and the Army still wants me to have a phone, I find that a eccentric. I also find it funny because it feels like it’s a toy with Arabic letters and numbers in addition to English letters and numbers

I shared this story with a friend and she wasn’t pleased with the ending, but… I feel that I need to give corporeal the honor of sharing his small life story. There was a stray puppy running around our FOB which is actually pretty normal. There are a lot of stay dogs running wild in our area. But this stray puppy seemed to take an interest in our tent, so guys in our company decided to adopt him and keep him around as a mascot or even just a moral booster. We named him corporeal and the soldiers really enjoyed seeing him around. So a couple days later I was at a meeting to find out that dogs are actually a bad omen to the Afghans and their religion. If a dog touches an Afghan they are considered unclean. A little later on we noticed that Corporeal hadn’t been around lately, and we were wondering were he went……..It turns out that an Afghan working for the Afghan Police got a little nervous with corporeal coming to close and shot him………needless to say we were all shocked when we heard this, so we are currently looking for a new pup.

This week I was also issued my 9mm, in addition too my M4 carbine that I have. It makes things a little easier now so I don’t have to lug around my M4 with me everywhere I go instead I can just take my 9mm around with me. Basically I have a side holster for day to day operations on the FOB and a leg holster for days that I have missions.

The weather is still pretty wet and the weather is getting a little warmer but not by much. I would say the avg is close to 40-50 degrees through out the day. The mountains have tons of snow on them and other people that I know that are in Northern Afghanistan say that they are getting snow by the feet.

I have a pretty cool mission coming up so I’ll keep everyone posted on how it goes.

The letters and packages have started to come, and I must say thank you! It’s a great reminder of home, family, and friends. If you send a letter/package I promise I’ll give you some type of response to let you know that I received it. I hope everyone is doing well and hopefully this weather will start to clear and warm up a bit.

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One Response to Thumbs Up

  1. Pathfinder School says:

    Matthew,
    Have fun on your upcoming mission. We are all thinking of you! Let us know what you and your buddies need for your next mailing!

    Katie Cox

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