Thought I would let everyone know that things here are still okay. We are making progress in our Area of Operations. The Brigade has contact daily interms of IEDs and small arms fire. Further to our East there have been several casualties in the Brigade so far. I am not sure about exact numbers but I believe it is somewhere around 5 or 6 KIA and a couple dozen WIA. However there have been no casualties in my battalion, other than one Soldier that was shot in the head. The bullet did not penetrate his helmet however and he just ended up with a bad headache. Our A and C companies get engaged almost daily by the enemy. They are also to our East. A co is about 20 KM away and C co is about 10 KM away. There have been about 30 IEDs found in our area so far with only two that exploded. Neither of those inflicted wounds, but they totaled the vehicles that they hit. None of my Soldiers have been engaged directly by the enemy yet. Some of this is probably because we have not been able to push that deeply into our area of responsibility yet. We currently spend most of our time patrolling the highway with an Afghan National Civil Order Police company (ANCOP). We do this to keep the highway open as it is vital to the Afghan economy. This highway, known as Highway 1, or sometimes as "Ring Road", is the only paved road in Afghanistan. It is the primary trade route through the country and follows the same route that trade here has followed for thousands of years. We have also begun partnering with the Afghan National Army (ANA) to train them and soon will start patroling our Area of Operations with them. I imagine this is when things will begin to heat up for us, as it will probably take us into areas that are known Taliban security zones. This is likely when they will begin reacting to our presence here. It is almost like they have their "turf" and they leave coalition forces alone as long as we stay out. But when you start messing around in their back yard they react to it. I have no idea really when this will happen. It all depends on so many factors. However we are training and preparing for it every day and I know we will be ready if and when it comes. I have a good bunch of Soldiers for the most part. They are all motivated to get into the fight. They are somewhat disappointed that all of the other companies are fully involved in their areas and we are not. I guess they feel a little left out. I keep telling them to be patient, that their opportunity to fight will come soon enough. I also look forward to it somewhat. For in this job sometimes you feel like the team that practices all the time but never gets to play a game. However I also dread it somewhat too for I know what can occur and I do not hasten the day that I have to send my first Soldier home in a flag draped coffin or missing limbs.
My company was blessed to bring everyone home in one piece from my last deployment. I only hope and pray that we can do that again, while at the same time making sure that our enemy is utterly broken when we leave. I really do not want to have to come back here again.
I know we are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone back home. I do thank you for it. I know without God's protection this could be much worse. I was very glad to hear that we got Osama Bin Laden. It was almost too good to be true. I had almost given up hope that we would ever get him. Some say it is bad to feel satisfaction in the death of another regardless of what bad things that person did. I disagree. To say it is bad to be glad that man is dead is like saying it is bad to glad Hitler is dead, or that it will be bad to be happy that Satan is finally defeated one day. Sometimes I feel like we spend too much time trying to appease and please those that are clearly evil and not enough time exterminating them.
But I realize I am ranting and probably venting right now. Just like Iraq I have met some good people here. At least they seem to be. I have five Afghan interpreters assigned to my company. One is already a US citizen and has a home in Arizona. The others are all hoping to gain US citizenship some day. One very young and very idealistic one would wipe the Taliban out himself I think if he could get his hand on a weapon. But they are not allowed to engage in combat as interpreters. But if he should ever get his hands on a weapon in combat and lend us a hand, so be it.
Well I must go now. I will try to keep everyone updated. I often get asked the question "what do you need over there?" I have all of the food I could want so please do not send any to me. Most of what I cannot get here my wife provides. But if you want to send something you can put together care packages with anything from toiletries, candy and snacks, books, magazines, card games or other small games. The guys love to play dominoes, spades and really just about any game to kepp them busy between missions and training. We also look for small toys, stuffed animals and writing materials such as sharpened pencils and notepads to distribute to the children here. Education here, especially in the outlying areas like where I am, is almost non-existent. So anything that might help them learn, keeping in mind that very few can read or write, would be useful.
I think the key to finally getting this country on it's feet one day is going to be educating the youth that there is a better way to do things.
And of course we need your prayers. So keep them coming.
Thank you for all of your support,