Sangow Bar Village

Some Notes and Photos

16 July 2009
Ghor Province, Afghanistan

On a per capita basis, Afghanistan is becoming more dangerous for British and American troops than Iraq ever was. For those who fought in places like Anbar, Basra, Baghdad, Diyala and Nineveh, that’s saying a whole lot. On a per capita basis, there are strong indications that Afghanistan will prove more deadly than Iraq during 2006-2007. One can only imagine how many days and nights Secretary Robert Gates and his advisors must have agonized over troop levels here. On the one hand, we have a fraction of the troops we need, but on the other, increasing troop levels increases hostility toward us. Secretary Gates has made it clear to me that his biggest concern is that we will lose the goodwill of the people and they will turn against us. This happens to be my own biggest concern. The agony is in knowing we need more medicine and the medicine can be highly toxic here. Many people have complained that the new restrictions on air strikes will hurt us, but from my boots, General McChrystal (the new boss here) has fulfilled the intent of his boss, and that the decision, though tough, was wise; if we lose the widespread assent of the Afghan people, it’s all over but for the bleeding.

Today our chances are not good, but there remains a real chance to succeed. Those chances improve dramatically when we take a no-kidding inventory of the situation and refine our goals to align with reality.
While war ravages neighboring narco-provinces, sluggish progress is being made in others. Here in Ghor Province, the Japanese, Lithuanians, and a host of other nations have teamed up in this remote area of Afghanistan.

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