Wow. Lots of support, and I thank you guys for that. Was not expecting that from the inquisitive minds of the Straight Dope.
As for offering your support and such, I thank you, but it’s not necessary. All my needs and the needs of my family are met. Thank you.
**Have you or your unit gotten any care packages from random people in the states? If so, what do you think of them - is there anything that you particularly look forward to? **
All the time, and what people think of them varies from person to person. Myself, I always feel guilty taking from random strangers and hate getting them. That’s just myself of course. And the most looked forward to items are: Peanut Butter and Tobacco.
**What can an average civilian do to help y’all?
When we say things like “Stay safe!” how do you take it? What can we say that’s more supportive or more meaningful to you?
What did you think of the video of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”? **
The “Stay safe” thing is something we say to each other, so it’s just fine. Typically friends going on different patrols will say “Stay safe” as their last parting words. And the video was certainly amusing.
How do you feel about being there, and have your thoughts on the war changed since you were first deployed?
These thoughts and feelings are strictly personal: If we were mining the hell out of all those minerals that Afghanistan is just teeming with, I would feel a lot better. But as of right now it’s enough to know that a former terrorist supporting regime is out. Quite different from the social norm, I have only positive views on war that supports: our national interest, and our national security. But that’s because I’m quite old school in my way of thinking.
**Wow, 4th deployment.
Do you have a family back home? Are they getting the support they need from their FRG?
Can you tell us where you are? Hub was at FOB Salerno in 2004/2005. One platoon was at Khandahar and the other at Bagram. He’s since retired as a CW4. I’m very proud of his service but one deployment was plenty for me. I’m still actively involved in the FRG. They are my family. **
Not married. As for where I’m at I’m in the Arghandab River Valley, west of Kandahar. As for the cop name, it’s included in the mailing address we give to family and strangers get hold of: COP Winkleman.
**How do you think we’d be doing if we never invaded Iraq? **
Probably no where closer as while Iraq was a distraction from this war, winning it requires the right strategy, one that wasn’t fully implemented until General MChrystal came up with it. So we’re just as far along now as whether Iraq happened or not. Unless you think Iraq kept the right commanders from Afghanistan to come up with the strategy, of course.
**What languages do the people speak around there? How do you communicate with the locals? **
In my area the locals are 95% Pashto and speak the language of the same name. Further west out on the main highway there are some Tajiks, also speak a language with same name as ethnicity. We communicate through the use of interpreters. Currently, all of our terps are Hazara ethnicity, a people the Taliban actively engaged in genocide against and thus a little easier to trust, IMHO.
** Do you think this is a winnable war? My cousin was an Army Ranger in Bosnia, and he said he’d never seen anybody hate anybody else like that and he didn’t think their mission was an achievable one. Do you feel the same way about Afghanistan? **
Yes. I just spent 5 days in a part of our AO where the locals stood up a militia, then got it recognized as a legitimate police force, and have effectively kept the Taliban out of the area by themselves. Occasionaly when they think they’ve got someone big in the area they’ll include US forces in the mix, but typically they get rid of the Taliban by themselves. Their attitude can be summed as thus: Not in my backyard. Unfortunately they are a minority in their attitudes and initiative. If we can just get others to have that same initiative and ambition then yes, this war is winnable. As long as so many people keep feeling like helpless victims and “I just want to farm, I don’t care who wins”, then it’s just gonna drag this conflict out.
Okay, I’ll answer them as I can. Keep them coming ya’ll.