Letter from Afghanistan
September 8, 2006
From one of IN Editor Duwayne Escobedo’s clan:
Greetings, news and commentary from the far side (of the world), as of September.
Mom always said to enjoy what I could, and put up with the rest.
Well, I’m beginning to enjoy the weather. It’s only 88 today, and it got down
into the 60’s last night. No goose bumps yet, but it’s now tolerable.
We’ve had some storms come thru, and although we haven’t had any rain
here, they have in parts of the country. Last night was an excellent
lightening storm, and we expected rain, but it stayed in the mountains.
I’ll take whatever I can get at this point. Cooler is good.
Several of you have asked about the country, what’s really happening,
what we are doing and what do I think about it. Well, here are some of
our daily challenges and issues. Not all of them, mind you, but some.
I’ll keep my evaluations to myself at this point.
We are staying busy, and we haven’t run out of things to do. Our
soldiers are excelling at their jobs and, despite what you may hear, we
see improvements. I often become frustrated though, and then realize
we’re literally building a country.
How do we teach governance (at every level), coach local leaders,build infrastructure, educate young and old alike, develop trust, overcome hundreds of years of tribal suspicion, fight corruption, instill ethics,
train law enforcement, settle disputes, help build the credibility of the
GoA (Gov of Afghanistan), and overcome contention.
We’re trying to do all of it while in one of the poorest countries in the world that receives one third of its income from illegal poppies and the heroin trade. It’s an overwhelming assignment.
Then add to all of the above, we need to find the guys who: bombed the
new girls school, burnt down the Provincial Reconstruction Center,
kidnapped the police chief and his son and executed them, stop the
outside instigators from stirring up the populace, figure out if some of
the local law enforcement stole the weapons, and went to the other side
(insurgents), catch the guys leaving bombs in the roads, and see why the
Afghan Security Forces haven’t been paid for the last three months, and
who has the money. And, provide security for ourselves and the country
as a whole. Add to that, staying safe, keeping a low profile, and
maintaining hyper vigilance all the time.
And we thought we might be bored. Not a chance.As we were told
when we arrived, everything in Afghanistan is difficult.
It takes a mile of effort to move an inch, and some days
we’re lucky to make any headway. In looking back over the last 7 months,
I can see progress, but there’sstill so much to accomplish. Progress is
extremely difficult and time consuming.
So much for my daily cogitation……. I’ve also got a lot to look
I’ve decided that with my pending R&R (coming soon), I need to start
making some sense of my pictures. I’ve spent the last few nights, moving
things around, from folder to folder and wondering what others will
think of the confusion I’ve got on my computer. These days of digital
photography are great, but I need to go thru and discard lots of stuff.
When I’m partially convinced that everything is in order, I change it
again, and then try to remember what I thought was important when I
first got here. It’s a little like introducing someone to a new subject;
Where do I start, what’s important and in what order should I proceed.
Oh well, I’ll keep at it.
I’ll add a little about our wildlife. I sent some of this to my family,
and told Janet not to look at the pictures. Well, she did, and she wrote
that she doesn’t want to travel here. I’ll send a couple of pictures of
some of the bugs and stuff common here. The Camel Spiders are a little
different, and when I took the lid off one of the plastic containers we
caught one in, everyone cleared the room. Somewhere, there’s a rumor
that they can jump. Somebody said they can jump a foot or two, and then
I heard 6 feet. This little guy only crawled around, and I never saw him
jump at all.
We’ve been catching ants for them, and I guess it’s a
diversion. The snakes are another thing. We’ve seen some off and on all
summer, but we had one get inside one of our buildings. They said he –
or she – was a juvenile. We’ve all been looking for mom and the
siblings, since. And no, Jeremy, we don’t keep them as pets. Spiders
yes, cobras no.
We also run into a few camels (animals, not spiders) on occasion. I’ve
seen shepards (do they shepard camels?), with a heard of maybe 10-12 (do
camels come in heards?), but most often only one or two. The Kuchis (a
tribe of nomadic people) keep a camel or two (per family) they use when
they move from place to place. When I think about it, how else are you
going to move your family tent and belongings – in the desert? Makes
sense to me.
I’m grinning a little more each day, and counting down. It’s now
somewhere close to two weeks, and I’m on my way home. Well, I’m not
really going home (sorry Yakima). I’ve got two new grandsons since I
arrived in Afghanistan, and I’m going to be properly introduced to the
newest Lindley men. I’m looking forward to time with family and taking a
It’ll be fun to visit Idaho and Arizona, and enjoying some
of the things I used to take for granted. I’ll catch up with the rest of
you next spring. With the flights around here and their unpredictable
schedules, I’m staying local for the next two weeks. I wouldn’t enjoy
being stranded somewhere remote, about the time I’m due to leave for the