Fridays are ridiculously busy and long in Editorial, so even though I had received this PDF file from our correspondent "MacGyver" operating out of Kandahar early this morning, I’m just getting to posting it now. To read all of it, with all the pictures, call up the full file. In the meantime, here are excerpts:
27 JUL 2007
Dear Family and Friends:
I hope all is well. Here, this mission is proving to be all that we anticipated and more. Team Swamp Fox had been trained to serve as Embedded Tactical Trainers (ETTs) for the Afghan National Army (ANA) but when we got here we were tasked as ETTs for the Afghan National Police (ANP). Team Swamp Fox is spending most of its time training and mentoring the ANP to be able to defeat TB and Al Qaeda attacks and secure and maintain peace and security after we leave….
Our mission has moved into the execution phase in one of the most difficult areas in country and working with the most challenging indigenous force to mentor. Team Swamp Fox is one of the first mentor teams to work with the ANP in the 205th Corp area – otherwise known as RC South – Southern Afghanistan.
A new man replaced the previously arrested Provincial Police Chief (PPC) by the name of Gen. Yacoub. Gen. Yacoub was formally an ANA Kandak Commander and has the military experience needed in the Province. He has tremendous challenges ahead and has a staff not of his choosing some of which has very close ties to the TB. Team Swamp Fox has traveled most of the province making assessments of the various District Police Chiefs and Ring Road (Hwy 1) Check Point commanders. I have sent photos of these travels in previous email photo updates. Essentially, we found some semi-good ones but many others who steal from the local population, kidnap and hold young boys as sex slaves, assist the TB with food, water and equipment, actively assist in emplacing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), assist the TB in hiding the weapons caches. As part of the insurgency the TB will commit atrocities on the local population in ANP uniforms to undermine the people’s support of the Government of Afghanistan (GoA). One of our challenges will be separating the good from the bad….
This MAJ Shay Pallan (translated his name means Lion Leopard) [Pictured above]. MAJ Pallan has been in combat for 25 years and formally a Mujahadeen Tank Commander. MAJ Pallan and I hit it off and got along real well almost right away. Despite his countenance in this photo, he has a great sense of humor and understands military discipline and its importance on the battlefield. Most importantly, he makes sure his policemen/soldiers have what the need.
That brings me to another point… Although these guys are called policemen, the really don’t do police work like we understand it to be. The are no statutes to enforce and they essentially are a domestic security force that operates more militarily to defeat the TB – Al Qaeda insurgency – which is good for us because we are not policemen and can’t teach that but we can teach them military tactics to increase their survivability….
Civilians are always a primary concern for us and the TB all too often use civilians as a shield, a violation of the law of war…(not that such a violation would be a concern of theirs). In many cases they will fire upon Coalition and Government of Afghanistan (GoA) forces from buildings containing civilians. This young boy handled those sheep like a master – he was moving his sheep through the area we were operating and I took a moment to speak with him and provide him with a bottle of water….
I love the Sat-phone – anytime anywhere – well anywhere outside – because the antenna has
to be outside – I can call anywhere in the world… I think of my family who has fought in previous wars… and what kind of communication they have had or not have had… to be so far in the middle of no where and simply dial a few numbers and speak to your loved ones keeps you connected to home…
They were so proud when they returned – they turned on their blue lights and sirens and paraded through the streets of Qalat – they were very proud of their hard work and felt honored to be working with Americans… the ANP has been largely left alone without supervision or oversight and the increased focus on the ANP will replicate the ANA success of the past… The ANP seemed to be very devoted to the work and desirous of being a professional force… as you can see we have a lot of work to do … but they are ready for the hard work ahead…
[This goes with picture below] I told them how proud Team Swamp Fox was to be working with them but it is up to them to secure their country – they have to want it and be willing to give everything for it… we would be with them side by side as we were in this operation but if “Asadi” (Freedom) is what they want for their Country then it is ultimately up to them, the ANA and the people of Afghanistan…
Thank you for your continued prayers. The Team is doing very well and making a difference for the American and Afghan peoples. The Taliban and Al Qaeda cannot and will not be able to train and export terrorist activities from Afghanistan. As a soldier here, I hope that our nation will not wait and allow Pakistan to become the next Afghanistan.