Author Topic: Understanding our Afghanistan Allies  (Read 20114 times)

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Offline Popurhedoff

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Understanding our Afghanistan Allies
« on: February 11, 2013, 05:54:43 »
Mindset,

When I was on tour in Kandahar, our mindset was focused on the enemy, what we thought about them as a people was clouded by our hate, prejudices, and our indifference.  Now being over here for a year and a half as a civilian I can say that I have gained a whole new insight and an appreciation for the average Afghanistan person. 

Most Blue on Green incidents were predicated by a fight, an insult and/or the prejudice of them being completely inferior, lazy, corrupt, or dishonest, they are and were treated less than equal which made them feel totally disrespected.

The corruption aside in the Government and businesses, but the average man, the villager, the recruits in the Police, Army, and APPF I have found that they are very hard working, very loyal and above all very respectful.  I have found that out of all of the countries I have the opportunity to visit I find that the Afghanistan society is one of if not the most respectful societies that I have interacted with.

I have almost 100 Afghanistan Guards, Officers and NCO's, approx. 70% are illiterate, cannot read or write.  They have been fighting since they were children, the Russians, the Taliban, the Warlords and Criminals, all they have known is defending their villages and their way of life.  With this, there was no time for an education but does this make them any less of a person?  We bring in a teacher 5 days a week to teach them to read and write and they are excel at it and are very proud of their accomplishments.

Respect is a very big thing in this society, I have taken the time to learn all their names, if they have families, I have learned to speak and greet them in their own language, they are also learning English and most of all I treat them with respect, treat them like my brother.  I eat with them, joke with them, assist them with their problems, play sports with them and at no time do I think of them of any less than myself.  I have found that a few of my guards have some very good skill sets, one is a veterinarian, another a teacher, two combat medics, a body builder/power lifter, another a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I use them with their skill sets to assist me to train the rest.  Most of all I teach them about teamwork,  "One Team" is our motto.

My Guard force works up to 21 days and then 7 days off, some have to travel long distances to their villages and if caught by the Taliban are excuted. There is no MWR, no welfare, no equipment for them, they have nothing, no TV, no Internet etc.  I take a portion of my pay every month and buy gym equipment for them, get them volleyballs and soccer balls, have competitions for them and they are really enjoying the friendship.  I get them new and used army boots, and have started "Operation Walking Tall" where people can donate new or used army boots and belts to a retailer and they will ship them to me.

What have my efforts and insights accomplished?  Well since I have been here I have not had so much as a single guard accused of stealing an apple, they always report for duty on time, and have done an excellent job protecting the facility and the Expats/TCN's here.  No incidents or occurrences, no head aches or problems, no threats or insider attacks.  They are respected by everyone here and we respect them.

The guard force found out I was getting ready to go on leave, they pitched together some money that they could not afford to give to buy gifts for my Wife and myself to take back home.  I was completely taken back by this gesture but I should have not expected less knowing how respectful they are.

If you treat them with repsect, they will take you in and protect you with their lives, they will look out for you, they are loyal and trustfull and above all very respectful.  If i had not come back here as a civilian, I doubt that I would have seen this side of them, people at their best.

Cheers
Pop
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 10:20:27 by milnews.ca »
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Offline C.G.R

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2013, 08:09:16 »
Great post.
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Offline BeyondTheNow

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2013, 10:30:19 »
Thank you for sharing your positive experience. I hope you continue to benefit from those around you just as your presence is benefiting them, I'm sure.  Stay safe, thoughts and prayers to you and your loved ones.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 00:18:30 by BeyondTheNow »
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Offline SherH2A

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 11:01:42 »
Mindset,

When I was on tour in Kandahar, our mindset was focused on the enemy, what we thought about them as a people was clouded by our hate, prejudices, and our indifference.  Now being over here for a year and a half as a civilian I can say that I have gained a whole new insight and an appreciation for the average Afghanistan person. 

Most Blue on Green incidents were predicated by a fight, an insult and/or the prejudice of them being completely inferior, lazy, corrupt, or dishonest, they are and were treated less than equal which made them feel totally disrespected.

The corruption aside in the Government and businesses, but the average man, the villager, the recruits in the Police, Army, and APPF I have found that they are very hard working, very loyal and above all very respectful.  I have found that out of all of the countries I have the opportunity to visit I find that the Afghanistan society is one of if not the most respectful societies that I have interacted with.

I have almost 100 Afghanistan Guards, Officers and NCO's, approx. 70% are illiterate, cannot read or write.  They have been fighting since they were children, the Russians, the Taliban, the Warlords and Criminals, all they have known is defending their villages and their way of life.  With this, there was no time for an education but does this make them any less of a person?  We bring in a teacher 5 days a week to teach them to read and write and they are excel at it and are very proud of their accomplishments.

Respect is a very big thing in this society, I have taken the time to learn all their names, if they have families, I have learned to speak and greet them in their own language, they are also learning English and most of all I treat them with respect, treat them like my brother.  I eat with them, joke with them, assist them with their problems, play sports with them and at no time do I think of them of any less than myself.  I have found that a few of my guards have some very good skill sets, one is a veterinarian, another a teacher, two combat medics, a body builder/power lifter, another a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I use them with their skill sets to assist me to train the rest.  Most of all I teach them about teamwork,  "One Team" is our motto.

My Guard force works up to 21 days and then 7 days off, some have to travel long distances to their villages and if caught by the Taliban are excuted. There is no MWR, no welfare, no equipment for them, they have nothing, no TV, no Internet etc.  I take a portion of my pay every month and buy gym equipment for them, get them volleyballs and soccer balls, have competitions for them and they are really enjoying the friendship.  I get them new and used army boots, and have started "Operation Walking Tall" where people can donate new or used army boots and belts to a retailer and they will ship them to me.

What have my efforts and insights accomplished?  Well since I have been here I have not had so much as a single guard accused of stealing an apple, they always report for duty on time, and have done an excellent job protecting the facility and the Expats/TCN's here.  No incidents or occurrences, no head aches or problems, no threats or insider attacks.  They are respected by everyone here and we respect them.

The guard force found out I was getting ready to go on leave, they pitched together some money that they could not afford to give to buy gifts for my Wife and myself to take back home.  I was completely taken back by this gesture but I should have not expected less knowing how respectful they are.

If you treat them with repsect, they will take you in and protect you with their lives, they will look out for you, they are loyal and trustfull and above all very respectful.  If i had not come back here as a civilian, I doubt that I would have seen this side of them, people at their best.

Cheers
Pop

Are you sure you weren't Col. John Masters of the Gurkhas in a previous incarnation. He makes the same sort of observations in his memoirs Bugles and a Tiger in the morning, and Beyond Mandaly.

He makes the point that respect is all important. That if you respect your troops culture and honour their customs and acknowledge their achievements, you are laying the groundwork for a successful relationship.  Now he was talking about the Gurkhas and you have had the same type of experience with the Afghans and Gen Radley Waters had the same philosophy in training his tankers.

Could it be that we Canadians, Afghans and Gurkhas have more in common than we think?

Thanks for your posting.

Offline Popurhedoff

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 11:15:27 »
Quote
Are you sure you weren't Col. John Masters of the Gurkhas in a previous incarnation. He makes the same sort of observations in his memoirs Bugles and a Tiger in the morning, and Beyond Mandaly.

He makes the point that respect is all important. That if you respect your troops culture and honour their customs and acknowledge their achievements, you are laying the groundwork for a successful relationship.  Now he was talking about the Gurkhas and you have had the same type of experience with the Afghans and Gen Radley Waters had the same philosophy in training his tankers.

Could it be that we Canadians, Afghans and Gurkhas have more in common than we think?

I am sure I wasn't,  having never heard of the Col. or have read his memoirs, it must be a shared respect, or maybe it is our upbringing?  Maybe I am finally maturing and seeing things for what they are?

Thank you all for the kind words.

Cheers
Pop
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Offline Bruce Monkhouse

    is thinking beach volleyball.

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 11:27:25 »
I 'stickied" this so it stays at the top of the topic list.
Great post.
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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 14:05:35 »
.....you have had the same type of experience with the Afghans and Gen Radley Waters had the same philosophy in training his tankers.
Are you saying that many would consider tankers a backwards, illiterate society?   :whistle:
I even read works I disagree with;  life outside  an ideological echo chamber.

Offline SherH2A

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 16:07:56 »
Are you saying that many would consider tankers a backwards, illiterate society?   :whistle:

Of course not unless you considered misguided Infanteers, aka crunchies, as part of the many?

FYI when Radley Waters was commissioned in The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, they were Infantry, they only became armour when the CASF decided they needed more armoured regiments to provide proper combat teams.

Offline Jungle

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 18:02:18 »
Ref your original post

I made similar observations on my last tour in Kandahar; I was on an OMLT team, working with an Infantry Kandak in Panjway.
We respected them, lived on the same FOB, ate their food, played volleyball with them and helped them improve their processes, training and infrastructures. And went on OPS with them; we helped treat their casualties and respected their dead.
I made some good friends among the Kandak's SNCOs. There are days I wish I was back there...
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 19:02:23 »
I never could figure out the ANA passion for volleyball....
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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2013, 19:08:48 »
 :goodpost:

I'm currently in the midst of doing another novel placed in Afghanistan and have been doing considerable research on the various Afghan tribal societies and have drawn several conclusions similar to your own observations.

Would love to see more posts of the experiences of those guys who've been there.
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Offline Popurhedoff

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2013, 19:45:11 »
I never could figure out the ANA passion for volleyball....

I didn't either until watching them crush the Americans, other Expat teams and the TCN's.  I was amazed who quickly they took up the game,  setting up, the smash, the spikes... I must say I was impressed.  They played in Combat boots, Flip Flops, bare feet on the dirt/rocks,  they did not care.

Cheers
Pop
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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2013, 21:41:24 »
If you could teach them to skate, they'd probably make a terrifying hockey team as well.
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Offline Bruce Monkhouse

    is thinking beach volleyball.

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 21:55:57 »
I never could figure out the ANA passion for volleyball....

Wow!!   Do I know you?? :-*
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Offline Loachman

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2013, 23:41:46 »
If you could teach them to skate, they'd probably make a terrifying hockey team as well.

But could Afghans beat the Jamaican Bobsled Team?

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2013, 12:16:13 »
Excellent post Popurhedoff!
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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2013, 12:40:03 »
I never could figure out the ANA passion for volleyball....

So they could check out their women's beach volleyball team    :nod:

I even read works I disagree with;  life outside  an ideological echo chamber.

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2013, 19:52:35 »
Hey Pop. Great post. I'd like to hear more of your views on how things are progressing over there, and if t really squares with the doom and gloom on the news here south of the border.
It's hard to win an argument against a smart person, it's damned near impossible against a stupid person.

There is no God, and life is just a myth.

"He who drinks, sleeps. He who sleeps, does not sin. He who does not sin, is holy. Therefore he who drinks, is holy."

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Offline Popurhedoff

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2013, 07:19:45 »
A few days ago I was Team Leader for a close protection mission,  my team consisted of all local APPF PSD guards that we have trained.  We were protecting a lot of high priced visitors.  When we delivered our package to the residence of the Ministry of Interior, we immediately deployed our team in the narrow crowded streets as outer security for the residence.  A British military close protection team was also there with their client and their team leader came over for a chat.  He was very surprised that I had a full Afghan team.

We got into an excellent conversation about the APPF and Afghans and how with understanding them, treating them with respect that they will are loyal and respectful as well.  I think the Brit finally realised that this APPF thing was here to stay.  We said our best wishes and safe tour and they departed  and we continued our day.  It was a good 11 hours in full battle rattle and not one complaint from the guys, they did a great job.



Cheers
Pop

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2013, 00:34:23 »
Just out of curiosity, how able is that all-Afghan team without its foreign national (in this case, Canadian) Team Lead to plan, coord, liaise......
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Offline Popurhedoff

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2013, 02:51:30 »
Just out of curiosity, how able is that all-Afghan team without its foreign national (in this case, Canadian) Team Lead to plan, coord, liaise......

I would say not able at this time in reference to protecting Expat clients.  This process is ongoing as is the training and development of skill sets. Developing good team leaders will take a lot more time and training to bring them up to an expat standard.

In reference to protecting themselves, they tend to think that they are good enough, but really comes down to discipline and the "Will of God".  Their mindset differs from our in respect to this.

Cheers
Pop
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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2013, 09:22:02 »
Ack. Thanks.
I even read works I disagree with;  life outside  an ideological echo chamber.

Offline Popurhedoff

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Re: Understanding our Aghanistan Allies
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2013, 08:14:51 »
We just had a new volleyball court made on site and I play with them a couple of times a week, in between those days I will watch from the sidelines and chat with the guards.  Yesterday I offered a cigarette to one of the older guards who I know smokes and he graciously accepted... as he was lighting it, he read the brand name out in English.  I then gave him pieces of paper and he was able to read it all in English, it was broken and then he smiled and told me his story...

He just graduated grade 12 and was working as a clerk when the Russian invaded, soon with all the unrest he joined the Mujahideen and fought against the Russians.  His stories of hardships what they endured bringing supplies across the mountains and how they would operate were very interesting indeed.  After the Russians left he went back to his village and worked small jobs until becoming a security guard with the APPF.

With their culture, this man being older than most he is very respected, he has a lot of experience and knowledge, and I have learned to cultivate these sources for the better of all.  He is a quiet honest gentleman, but his eyes tell stories, stories which I hope he continues to pass on. 

Just sitting there with them chatting, joking and sharing tea and cigarettes opens many doorways here.  This afternoon I was leaving Camp Eggers and passing through a control point when one of the Afghanistan guards called my name... I turned around and he had a big smile on his face, it was a guard who used to work for me with a previous company a few years ago... I greeted him in Dari and gave him a big hug as it was great to see one on my old associates... these friendships we make over the years is still bearing fruit,  all in all it was a great week.

Cheers
Pop

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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Understanding our Afghanistan Allies
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2014, 23:48:24 »
An interesting photo essay of Afghanistan back in the 1960's. You can see how things have changed since, but it is also good to understand what life was like for the past generation:

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/1960s-afghanistan?utm_source=outbrainpaid&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=outpaidpremium2#1
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