Friday, June 29, 2007

Afghan: One mission at a time and a new dam

I know many people think the only thing Marines, Army persons, Navy personnel, the National Guard, the Air Force crew and the such are only capable of killing. Trash things and kill people. That's all there is to it, right? Hold on! Not so fast here. Here are two articles that could at least pierce your hearts, if only you would read them.

The first article is aboout changing the lives of these destitute people, one mission at a time.

Changing lives one mission at a time.
24 Jun 07
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig Seals
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The C-130 is one of many different types of aircraft stationed here, but could easily be called one of the most versatile. The members of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron put that versatility to the test every day. The three primary missions of the C-130s here are airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation.

"Our airdrop missions can be anything from dropping pamphlets to the locals to humanitarian drops such as water, blankets, food and firewood in the winter, ammunition and troop re-supplies," said Senior Airman Patrick Keefe, 774th EAS loadmaster. "Air-land missions consist of troop movements or hauling cargo."

The multitude of missions doesn't limit the aircrew to only one mission type per flight though. Most of the time, their missions are any combination of the three. An aeromedical evacuation mission might be coupled with 15 Soldiers needing to get to a forward operating base while making a stop somewhere else to drop off a palette of supplies.

It's this type of versatility that makes the C-130 one of the most valuable aircraft in the theater. But not all of these missions are as easy as they seem. "Each mission has a different type of danger, which means that each of us have to be on our A-game each and every day," said Air Force Capt.

John Malley, 774th EAS pilot. "It also depends on where we are going. If we know an area is hot, we know that there is that much more possibility we could get engaged."

Danger aside, the crews have a special sense of pride knowing the supplies and service they bring to the fight.

"I'm proud to be an American and happy to fight the good fight," said Malley. "We're [going to] win this thing and it's only a matter of time.

I'm hoping that every airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation mission contributes positively to our efforts here in Afghanistan."

However, that sense of pride is evident in more than just the C-130 crews. "With hauling cargo and personnel all over this country, I have been able to see the improvements this country has made," said Keefe. "The people have a feeling of importance now, which was evident in a recent election when they voted a woman in as minister of education. Things like this never would have happened under the Taliban."

Seeing a change for the better in the local people and the faces of the servicemembers they transport puts things in perspective for the crew.

"The most fulfilling part of my job is knowing that we're helping get wounded Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines out of harm's way and getting them to locations where they can get the medical attention they need," said Malley. "And getting those troops on the frontlines what they need when they need it, that's worth it."

Photo - Senior Airman Patrick Keefe (far right), 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a forklift carrying passenger luggage into the cargo area of a C-130 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Keefe is deployed from Wyoming's Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyo. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Seals.

Source: Bagram Air Base.

Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

They are being modest. They also provide food to people who are so idolated that they cannot feed themselves. These people are just trying to stay alive after years and years of war.

The next article is about the necessity of water and the huge impact dams and irrigation will have not only on their crops but also on their economy. Just take one paragraph:

Reconstruction Team Launches Dam Project.
24 Jun 07
By U.S. Navy Ensign Christopher Weis.

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Through a $1.5 million project launched earlier this year, the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Khost is finding that providing water for drinking and irrigation can be an effective weapon against terrorism. U.S. Navy Cmdr. David Adams, who took over command of the 120-member joint team in April, said that by providing the funding and oversight necessary to empower local governments throughout Khost to decide where and how diversion dams will be built, the Provincial Reconstruction Team helps connect the people to their government -- which is the key to defeating the insurgency.

In a country held back by more than 30 years of war, ineffective water use has made life even more difficult in this already-barren country. Managing water is life or death for farmers like Haji Mazdigar Gul, 56, who explained that without a diversion dam, flooding often causes him to lose his fields, jeopardizing his family’s survival. His village of Koza Bokhana is one of 30 that will benefit from dams, which will redirect water from rivers to the fields of more than 80,000 farmers and families.

Villagers throughout Khost testify to the diversion dams’ ability to bring economic prosperity to the largely agricultural region. In roughly three weeks, the first of these dams will reach completion, helping local Afghans to better control flooding, irrigate their fields, grow crops and feed their families.

“We appreciate America. We are poor people and they are helping us,” said Khost farmer Mumin Khan, 70, speaking through a Provincial Reconstruction Team Khost translator. “They are the only ones helping us rebuild our country. We love the Americans because they send their sons far away from home to help us.”

“Each of the diversion dams, which take roughly six weeks to complete, has the capacity to irrigate 45,000 jerubs, or roughly. 25,000 acres of land,” said Khost Provincial Director of Irrigation Abdulmer Khan Lama

With a relatively peaceful May tempered by al-Qaeda threats of increased violence in Afghanistan, security for the projects is a top priority.

“We have not seen any problems with security for these projects because the people would not accept attacks on dams that go to the core of their livelihood,” Adams said.

While coalition forces have constructed other diversion dams, water retention walls and aqueducts in the border region, the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s efforts are by far the largest in Khost to date, according to the governor, Arsal Jamal. Although the 30 dams will impact one in 10 “Khosties” directly and many more indirectly, Adams said additional funding would be required to meet all of the region’s irrigation needs.

The local governments are involved in every step of the process. They select the building sites based on need, design the dams, monitor quality and ensure the safety of workers, Adams said. The villagers also take ownership of the projects by completing initial excavation and closely monitoring the project to assure the highest quality.

Adams explained that more dams is a top request he receives from villagers throughout the province. The diversion dams project furthers the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s mission.

The diversion dams project furthers the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s mission by “enabling security, promoting good governance and facilitating reconstruction, development and economic growth,” Adams said. These efforts allow the team to make life better for the people of Khost and help transform what was once a hotbed of terrorist activity to a more prosperous region that will no longer tolerate terrorists.

“Sept. 11 started here,” Adams said. “Only by strengthening the government and reconstructing Afghanistan can we ensure that the conditions for another 9/11 will never again take root here in Khost.

Photo - U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dave Adams, 2nd from left, the governor of Khost and the provincial Director of Irrigation offer a prayer before the cornerstone is laid in the Matun district of Khost, Afghanistan, May 8, 2007. The dam will provide irrigation and drinking water for nine villages in the area. U.S. Navy photo.


Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

This is a very good thing they are doing, and they are not doing it alone. The Afghan people are actually working side-by-side with them. They are all great and while we empower them, we also are helping ourselves here at home. Read and find out why. I am very proud of you guys and gals! :)

Source: Bagram Air Base and


  1. Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.

  2. This is true. One thing we've learned is Maslow's heirarchy. (The triangle.) The first thing on the bottom of that list is survival. If we help them to survive, teach them to survive (in a different manner than what they're accustomed to living), maybe we can gain their trust or at least respect. Enough so they stop killing us!

    In other words, I agree. :)


Please be respectful of others, so they may be respectful to you. Have a blessed day.