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In the spirit of the new and exciting direction I’ll be taking this blog from now on (Go ISAF!), with the view toward seeing things here in Afghanistan in a more positive light (Yay, Team Caldwell!), I’ve been going through some of the posts on this blog and realizing that maybe some of the topics weren’t being addressed well, properly.
Take this post on a QA trip conducted by a PRT. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who just can’t see how much silver there really is in the lining here, since over at Diplopundit, there’s a similar post.
Well, kids, it’s time we realize that we need to listen to LTG Caldwell, and stop living like it’s 2009!
So, instead of seeing an aerial survey of a school for quality assurance purposes as a bad thing, let’s think of all the reasons that seeing that school from the air could be a good thing!
Safer rooftop inspection: Rather than risking the safety of those doing this inspection who might be forced to climb up on a rickety Afghan ladder, now you can just see the roof from the air. And, if you’ve brought along that ACOG for your M4, pointing that out the window will bring that rooftop into crystal clear focus.
Giving Blackhawk crews something else to do: It’s a fact that UH-60 pilots and their crews get tired of shuttling troops and supplies to areas where there’s fighting going on with the insurgents. This way, that helicopter, instead of supporting that kinetic stuff, gets to be used for a wonderful photo opportunity for the folks back home.
Less chance of interacting with the local population: Let’s face it — the less time ISAF spends dealing directly with the people in that area, the better off they’ll be. If we actually get out of the helicopter and spend time on the ground with them, we run the very real risk of them understanding what ISAF is doing here, and then what would we do with all that extra support from the local population? That, and they smell weird.
Less time on the road means more time for Xbox: Call of Duty isn’t going to play itself, and by cutting down on the amount of time you’re spending traveling to a project site, you get the chance to build more cohesion with your fellow ISAF soldiers.
Gives locals a chance to see more helicopters: There’s nothing quite like the sound of helicopters far above them to instill confidence in the local population that ISAF is willing, ready, and able to protect them from the Taliban. If this had been conducted on the ground, then they would have only seen the faces of soldiers and airmen, running the risk that Afghans might see ISAF as being made up of people, rather than mighty, impersonal machines.
Doubles as a show of force for local insurgency: Being on the ground just shows the insurgents that you’re one of those weak-willed people who just want to get to know the villagers around that school. By flying overhead in a helicopter and pointing M4s out the windows, you let the Taliban, Haqqani, and everyone else who’s down there know exactly who’s in charge on the ground: it’s the guy in the air.
Eliminates troublesome questioning of local contractor: We’ve all been there — having to use an interpreter, listening to all of the reasons why the school’s interior construction is behind schedule, and putting him on the spot by actually checking on his work. But by just flying over the school, you manage to eliminate all of that. The contractor’s happier, you’re happier, and at the end of the day, he still gets paid. I mean, how important is the inside of that school, anyway? You just need to make sure it at least looks like a school, right?
So, I’d welcome any and all feedback on the exciting new directions this blog is heading! And remember, no matter what happens, if it’s bad, it’s 2 year old news!