The excerpt below was written by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Gallahan, a member of the ISAF Joint Command, Afghanistan. Tech. Sgt. Gallahan’s post is currently running on the official White House blog. Click here to read the full post.
I started this year’s holiday season off right – waking up Thanksgiving morning in a tin building with 200 Army soldiers at a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan.
I’m a U.S. Air Force Airman, journalist and photographer deployed to the ISAF Joint Command in Kabul. My two-week mission was to document and tell the story of the Afghan National Security Forces. I visited many locations including battalion headquarters and combat outposts; I witnessed everything I expected… and then some.
I went out anticipating combat patrols and handing out supplies, check.
I went out anticipating the Afghan’s taking greater control of their country, check.
I went out anticipating the Afghan’s tracking down bad guys, check.
Then there were the holiday cards and smiles. I didn’t anticipate that.
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Shawn Newland, an engineer with the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team, discusses the ongoing construction of a girls’ school with the construction workers for the project, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, July 30, 2009. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jennifer Cohen)
Brig. General Damien Cantwell, Australian Defense Forces and Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, Canadian Forces gave bloggers an update on the upcoming Afghan elections during a Department of Defense Bloggers Round Table, Aug. 18. General Cantwell is the chief of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Election Task Force and serves as the primary point of contact with all external agencies involved in the planning and conduct of the Aug. 20 elections. General Tremblay is the ISAF spokesperson.
The generals discussed the various problems confronting the election such as security, rebuilding, fraud, women’s roles and violent intimidation from insurgents.
General Cantwell said the Air Force is playing a key role in supporting the election process. “The Air Force is providing support and enabling activities,” he said. They are there to provide close air support if needed, and the Air Force has been moving large numbers of people and materiel. Also, they have helped with planning and support well beyond Afghanistan’s borders. They are in position to provide the necessary air overwatch and information gathering, he continued.
The Air Force has kept a low profile, but are available to respond to situations if they arise. They will be called on for whatever is needed. It is a low-profile, highly agile position, General Cantwell said.
The Bloggers Roundtable can be heard in its entirety here.
Post by Master Sergeant Steve Delgado