Friday, June 12, 2009

Four Afghanistan Blogs Worthy of Note

A visit to slate.com this morning (check the Sandbox link if you're a Doonesbury fan and visit there a lot) yielded four websites worthy of note. All are blogs by US military or ex-military serving and working in Afghanistan. All give a grunts-eye view of the mission there and it's challenges.

The bloggers are intelligent, funny, and helpful to understanding what's going on over there. They are:

Afghanistan Lessons Learned - a composite of several blogging friends. Funny, astute, informative. Here's a sample:

Afghan loyalty is to the smallest family unit first. When two tribes fight, they're loyal to the tribe. If two subtribes fight, it is to their subtribe. If two villages fight, it is to their village. If two families fight, it is to their cousin. If a brother chances upon two cousins fighting, it is to their brother. But if that brother is taking from his woodpile, he'll shoot him in the gut.

I cannot tell you how to gain the loyal friendship of an Afghan and neither can they. I can tell you how to ensure you never gain that friendship and that is to attempt to change them. It is to demean them. It is to be rude to them. It is to try to game them.

They recognize insincerity like an animal recognizes fear.

Just because they're telling the entire White Mountain Range that you just left the gates does not mean they're Taliban. They gossip like old women and herding goats all day can be boring. When you roll out of the gates, it's big news and every goatherder wants to be the first with the big news. It gives them something to talk about for hours and the entire valley will know before you hit the first riverbed.

Drink some Chai and play some chess. If you were ever in doubt of how smart they actually are, playing chess will remove it. An Afghan may not recognize his own name in print, but he will beat you in chess every day of the week. I only won once and that was because I distracted the mechanic with Jerry Springer. He was smart enough to concentrate on the board forever after.


Afghanistan Shrugged - a blog by a US reservist serving as an advisor (in Canada we call them OMLT - Operational Mentor and Liason Team)with the Afghan National Army - ditto.



Photo of the Day from bouhammer.com - this one shows U.S. Army soldiers from Bravo Battery, 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment cross a creek during a dismounted patrol in the Nerkh Valley of the Wardak province of Afghanistan on June 4, 2009. DoD photo by the U.S. Army.
Bouhammer is an IT guy and former (I think former) US army reserve (and former reg) infanteer who has also worked as an advisor in Afghanistan. His site is an interesting compilation of news and offers some wicked tshirts for sale.



Finally, Free Range International is a smart and opinionated blog by a retired Marine (I learned recently that there are no ex-Marines, one is always a Marine) who works over there as a defence contractor.

All worthy of note. Note to self - are there any similar blogs by Canadians or Brits? Must look.

2 comments:

Bouhammer said...

Thank you Padre for the shout-out. I appreciate the acknowledgment on your blog. You are correct I was former active duty and now a national guardsman, but I am still in. Not retired yet. Still Serving...

Bouhammer

mad padre said...

Thanks, Bouhammer. Glad you're still in harness. Awesome blog, man. Blessings,

MP+

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.

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