So far most of my articles have revolved around the adjustment of returning to civilian life from that of the military. But I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about a recent trip back to Afghanistan I was lucky enough to take. It has been a couple of years since my last deployment so when the opportunity came up, in a civilian role, I jumped at the chance to return and see how things look on the ground today.
I traveled by military transport, so needless to say the comfort level of this grueling trip hasn’t changed much. And surprisingly once i arrived things looked much the same as when I left.
From what I’ve been reading in the news, the Taliban has been receiving less and less funding from outside of Afghanistan. Some of their supposed backers were wealthy donors in the oil rich areas of the Middle East, as well as the intelligence agencies of Pakistan.
From what you read here, you would think they are pretty well down and out. Of course it doesn’t take massive amounts of funding to do damage to small groups of soldiers and civilians on the ground in a county like this. So regardless of what you read, you had better be on your guard.
My mission on this particular trip is to assess whether or not I want to return as a civilian contractor. The job would entail driving in convoy with people trying to assist the Afghans in rebuilding their country. These missions are attempting to teach them to build sustainable agriculture. Given the basic state of agriculture in this country, they’ve got a lot of work to do.
Essentially each day we would roll out of a protected compound, travel to remote villages and farms and spend the better part of the day instructing them on modernizing their farming methods. Of course this particular part has nothing to do with me. My squad and I would strictly be there for protection purposes.
Thankfully one thing hasn’t changed. Guys in the same role I would be filling will be armed to the teeth. You can never take security too seriously in this part of the world so most of the guys come over-prepared.
In addition to their weapons of choice, the M4A1 (also the first choice of Navy Seals) most guys carry an MK23 .45 caliber pistol. Both of these weapons offer phenomenal stopping power. From there things get a lot more basic. Most of the guys carry some sort of wicked tactical knife or even two or three. In addition, they generally carry some sort of of field sharpening kit for their knives.
After this things become much more survival oriented. Lots of first aid materials, water, water treatment supplies, and MRE type foods. All in all it doesn’t sound that different from what I remember during my service.
I still haven’t made up my mind about going back. The pros are that the pay is phenomenal, and attacks in general seem to have declined a great deal. I always enjoyed the country and the people. Of course the cons are months spent away from home and family in addition to the possibility of great danger.