Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I cannot sleep. A lot of thoughts are swirling in my head, so the blog is my outlet.
I think many people have forgotten why we invaded Afghanistan. And I also think many people think that Al-Qaeda and Taliban are synonyms.
I try to see the positive aspects in life, but I'm afraid that I can longer see that in Afghanistan. The lack of direction, guidance and strategy is frustrating...to say the least. The newness haze of my situation has warn off and I'm staring the truth in the eyes. What we're doing here is not an effective counter-insurgency strategy and no one knows how to make it right. And we will probably never get it right.
The past several weeks have been hard. Our R&R program was canceled without reason. Leave is not available to everyone in the unit. And the shop has been busy. We had a flash flood destroy a critical bridge on one of the highways and we had to find a solution. We also had twenty new projects to award...and that meant reviewing 450 proposals, selecting a winning contractor and signing the contract. In 12 days. We can build all these schools, but are they, alone, really defeating the insurgency? When we visit a school that the PRT built five years ago and it's had no maintenance since, tell me what I should think about the 20 school projects we currently have under construction. Governance has not caught up to development.
I love the quote, "Where the road ends, the insurgency begins." I believe in it 100%. Why else would the Taliban have attacked our road projects over a dozen times in the past three months? Why else would they intimate the construction workers and contractors? Why else would they kill effective village elders who support the road? It's because the project is effective to their demise. But will the PRT be building any more roads in the near future? The answer is no. I've been told by higher headquarters that it's not the PRT's job and that we need to focus on small scale projects. I've been told by an aeronautical engineer that the PRT does not have the expertise to build roads, but his organization does. How many civil engineers does it take to convince people that we have the expertise, experience and capability to build excellent quality roads? Because I have 10 and we have the roads as our proof!
Unfortunately I feel that I am at the end of my rope. This PRT experience has been so disappointing that the only way I can cope is to stop caring and continue to count down the days (184). And we don't have the best team one could wish for, which amplifies the disappointment. I'm ready to move to Switzerland and just forget.........Afghanistan what? Where's that? And civilian clothes look better and better as I'm on my 186th straight day of choosing between the green outfit or the blue outfit. I wish Scott and I were on the same page, like we usually are. But when it comes to this issue, I'm afraid that we are reading different books. Hence, the source of my insomnia.