Update from Afghanistan
December 20th, 2010
Lincoln, NE – Several hundred Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers currently call Afghanistan home. NET Newsâ€™ Mike Tobias talked with the commander of this Nebraska unit about their mission and conditions in country.
Lt. Colonel Tom Rynders calls it overwhelming.
â€œItâ€™s like breathing sulfur 24 hours a day.â€
Rynders is talking about smog that constantly hangs over Kabul. The Bellevue native commands the 1-134th Cavalry, which is based at two camps in Afghanistanâ€™s capitol. He calls conditions for most of the more than two million people who live in the city squalid.
â€œNo running water in a lot of their homes and buildings. Electricity for only certain periods of the day. Trash everywhere, and literally I mean everywhere,â€ he said. â€œWhether itâ€™s on the sides of the streets or in the neighborhoods or businesses, just about everywhere youâ€™d look, trash of some sort.â€
In this environment, the Nebraska Cavalry soldiers took command of their mission this month. For most soldiers that means mentoring, training and advising Afghan security forces throughout the wide-ranging Kabul province.
â€œNow theyâ€™re doing anything from doing some initial types of law enforcement training where there could be vehicle searches or manning a checkpoint effectively, those are some of the operational types of mentoring and training we could do.â€
â€œBut weâ€™re also getting ourselves involved in administrative things like logistics, personnel accountability, because they do seem to struggle, most of the Afghan National Police, in understanding how a proper logistics system should work.â€
Nebraska soldiers are also involved with community improvement projects. A special fund allows Rynders and his soldiers to identify needs and hire local workers to build things like medical clinics, roads and schools.
â€œTo me, that is probably the most rewarding thing about what we do here,â€ he said. â€œBecause thatâ€™s the most visible and tangible contribution I think we can make is by building these things.â€
In a country where nearly 700 coalition soldiers have died this year, there is always a threat of attack. But Rynders says so far his soldiers, quote â€œreally havenâ€™t seen much,â€ and Kabul has been a fairly safe place.
Comments are closed.