Monday, December 9, 2013
MORE FROM AFGHANISTAN
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By Bill Nemitz email@example.com
(Continued from page 2)
Capt. Paul Bosse of Auburn, a Maine Army National Guard commander, listens to requests for help during Monday’s weekly “shura,” or meeting, with local Afghan elders at the District Center in Dand wa Patan, Afghanistan.
Photos by Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist
A local elder makes a point Monday to Bravo Company commander Capt. Paul Bosse of Auburn, who is aided by an Army interpreter. The American officer listened for 40 minutes before taking his turn to speak.
Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram columnist Bill Nemitz is reporting from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Nemitz left Memorial Day weekend to join the 152 Maine men who make up Maine Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry. They are among the 94,000 troops currently in Afghanistan.
Click the link at the top of this story to read his blog and see past stories and photos.
Then, out of nowhere, appeared the much younger man in search of equipment for his fledgling cricket team.
Cline, Bravo Company’s intelligence team member, quickly asked the age of the players.
“Eighteen, 16, 17,” the young man replied through the interpreter.
Beyond the obvious – that’s prime recruiting age for the Taliban – the wheels in Cline’s head were turning fast.
It happens that sometime in the next two weeks or so, Bravo Company plans to launch a local radio station that will broadcast music, news and, of course, pro-American messages.
In addition to planning a free distribution of radios and a leaflet drop to publicize the new station, Cline has already hired a handful of deejays. One of them, it turns out, has friends on Afghanistan’s national cricket team.
“So I was going to have some of those guys come here – and if they do, I could have them meet up with (the local team),” Cline said.
Later, back at COP Dand wa Patan, Bosse said he truly hopes he can make the cricket-team request happen.
But if he has learned one thing since coming to this remote combat outpost in March, it’s that nothing comes easy here.
People who promise to attend a meeting, when the time comes, are nowhere to be found.
People who raise their hands and say they support you, in reality, don’t.
And getting a set of cricket equipment to a group of young men teetering on Dand wa Patan’s ideological divide, however simple it may sound, isn’t.
Bosse said he has learned in his few months here that to flat-out promise anything is to invite disappointment: A rock slide might block an access road, or an uptick in insurgents’ attacks might reduce the supply chain to food, water and, above all, ammunition for American troops.
Hence, as he spent Monday morning fielding requests from the Afghan citizenry, Bosse never ventured beyond “I might be able to help you” or “I’ll see what I can do.”
Fair enough. But even now, it’s hard not to root for the Dand wa Patan cricket team.
“It’s too easy. It shouldn’t be hard,” Bosse agreed. “But out there in Dand wa Patan, everything is hard.”
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
click image to enlarge
A village elder listens to the discussion during the weekly “shura,” where leaders compare notes, talk about what’s working and what isn’t, and, most of all, complain.