Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Atkins (photo at left) is currently assigned to Camp Eggers, Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Below are some insights and reflections he shared based on this current deployment. About this assignment, Lt Col Atkins states, “I volunteered for my third and most challenging deployment. At this location, we have a direct and significant impact on training the Afghan National Police (ANP) to provide stable security for the people of Afghanistan.”
27 August 2009
Country Overview: It has been interesting to witness the highest rates of significant events during the Operation Enduring Freedom campaign. I’ve been outside the wire three times, and each time one can feel the extremely high tension cutting through the air. The tension is not between the Coalition and the Afghans; it’s between everyone and the bad guys.
Locals: I truly feel sorry for these poor people trying to make their lives better. They have “non-invited” insurgents spoiling progress. Often I talk to the locals and they truly appreciate the opportunities we have provided. We hire many local contractors and it’s making a significant difference in their personal lives, for their families, and their communities.
Security Progress: The Afghan Army and Police are making great strides in training, operations, and deterrence. There are many challenges across the board, but progress is being made.
15 August 09
A few weeks ago, I was in vibration range of the vehicle born improvised explosive device (VBIED) that killed 5 and injured 91. The explosion was loud…louder than you could ever imagine. The good news is that our highly trained people did a phenomenal job of rescuing and recovering all of the WIAs (wounded in actions). I was utilized in the Joint Operations Center to accomplish accountability and plan the next phases.
Elections: Although the elections were not free from casualties, the Afghan Army and Police did an excellent job of protecting people of different tribes and clans. Thousands of Afghan men and women proudly risked their lives and limbs to vote. Many of them displayed their ink stained index finger for several days after the election. We all hope and pray that someday all Afghans will enjoy the freedom, safety, and security to vote like we do in America.
Pride & Courage: You would be proud to see our brave troops, State Department, and civilian contractors in action. Everyday we march past our Coalition flags at half-mast, and we fully comprehend the flags will remain at the position again tomorrow. Our goals, objectives, and end state are clear and we are willing to make great sacrifices to ensure they are all met.