Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Green is the Color of Jalalabad

Yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to witness the first ever transition from one Afghan combat brigade to another of the operational battle space that it occupied. What does that mean? It means the Afghan people are continuing to take over more of the fight. That is a very significant event. With the transfer of control of a sector of the battlefield from one Afghan National Army element to another, that means less reliance on the coalition for maneuvers units in the future. The pride shown by these Afghan men was a sign of their faith in their future.

With the departure of the 1st Brigade, the leadership acknowledged both their valiant performance of duty over the "Spring Offensive" of 2006 and the preparedness of the incoming 3rd Brigade that would relieve them in place. The outgoing unit had
Captured over 71 Taliban, killed 31, and wounded 63over the course of their continuous attacks, raids, and cordon and search operations. Over the course of these battles, the unit lost eight of its men. In what can only be described as unprecedented in this new government, the Governor offered each of the families of these fallen soldiers a plot of formerly government held land to farm in their memory. "I call on the third brigade to continue the legacy of the first brigade," said the governor, "regarding their ethics, discipline and respect for human rights."

Now there is something you rarely hear for a leader in a war time theatre.

While Brig. Gen. Pritt was the ranking American officer present, his comments were amongst the shortest. There were nine speakers that ranged from the Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army to the regional Governor, from the outgoing brigade commander to the incoming brigade commander. The Afghan people love a good speech and several of these speakers roused the audience into choruses of their regimental mottos or thunderous applause.

The governor announced that there would be three soldiers that would be receiving medals for their service but that they were representatives of what the entire regiment would be receiving. Anxious to get the awards process started, an officer, and NCO and a young soldier took the stage one by one and were pinned by either the governor himself, the brigade commander or in one case, the company commander. These three represented the regiment best for their combat actions over the past five months of sustained combat. The rest of the regiment would be awarded similar devices once they order was authorized by President Karzai. In the interim, fifty of the soldiers were presented certificates honoring their service.

These incredibly proud men, these professional soldiers, marched forward to receive recognition and, on reporting, announced in loud, bold statements their loyalty to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, their regiment and their command.

After the honors and the speeches, we were all welcomed to an excellent lunch of stewed goat, rice, fresh vegetables and warm naan bread. This was not an event for the officers and senior NCOs as is typically the case in this very formalized culture. The entire regiment shared this meal.

At my table, I sat next to a career television and radio producer who was very interested in covering more stories about the success of the Afghan National Army and its relationship with the Embedded Training Teams. I made a plan to work with him in the future.

Immediately after the grand meal, Brig. Gen. Pritt, his Aide, Lt. Merrit and his security detail, left to join the governor at his palace for a reception. While it sounded incredible, the rest of us waited for their return. It was at this time that I was given a bit of a tour of the compound, realizing the dark history to the fortress we had occupied for hours.

The Taliban held this post until their fall from power in 2001. The prison within the compound had held "enemies of the state" people that were often arrested for speaking out of turn, not having enough facial hair, reading unauthorized books (typically anything but the Koran and the Sunnah). Hundreds of the prisoners of this decrepit medieval dungeon were executed in the courtyard.

Tied to the Eucalyptus tree against the walls of the prison, they were shot by lone Talib firing details.

The Tree of Life is a pattern of many rugs designed here in Afghanistan and throughout central Asia. This tree was a tree of death.

One final detail of this trip to the borderlands between Eastern Afghansitan and Western Pakistan...the heat. It was 124 F with about 97 percent humidity. It was oppressive even for the Afghans from the region. All of us were sweating buckets. At one point I looked at my hands and it was if I had been in a swimming pool all day, they were wrinkled from moisture. As we departed the area in a Black Hawk helicopter I looked into the lens and snpped this shot... It was hot.

-out here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scott of Afghanistan

I have just spent the last few hours with Scott Kesterson, the first time I have seen him in two months. He has just returned from filming the "Red Devils" Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon of the Canadian Infantry Regiment deployed here to Southern and Western Afghanistan. some of the best video footage I have ever seen of the war as this tightly knit unit strikes at the dug in enemy destroying them on site.

I will continue this tomorrow, but...WoW!!! Scott of Afghanistan is doing some extraordinary work! IT is good to be re-connected with my friend and with this incredible emergin story-teller of the modern battlefield.

-out here

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Taliban Caves in the Peaks over Qalat

I slept for only four hours before we departed for Qalat. Up late emailing and talking on the MWR phone line with my wife back home. My alarm went off at 0400, got out of the room and cleared it with my two reporters in tow. I am traveling with David Zucchino and Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times. Both world class reporters, one the writer, the second the photographer. They have traveled together for much of the past five years. From reporting at 1 World Trade Center, NYC on Sept. 11th, 2001, to six trips in and out of Afghanistan and seven to Iraq, these two veterans have seen the battlefields of the Global War on Terrorism. Zucchino, a Pullitzer Prize winning reporter, was the foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and is the author of Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad. He is a veteran of moe conflicts than any one I know. He won his Pullitzer while covering in South Africa.

We linked up with Sgt. Jeff Jeremiah, another Oregon Guardsman from the recently deactivated1-162 Infantry. Sgt. J is serving as our PSD or Personal Security Detachment. HE has been around the Army for a long while and knows his job well. Beside that, it was an opportunity to get him out of the FOB (Forward Operating Base) of Kandahar and into the field. We then had our convoy brief at 0500 and traveled as part of a five vehicle M114 convoy to. It is a two hour drive across the high desert from Kandahar. Our convoy commander was again the reliable Staff Sgt. Fish, whom I wrote about at Camp Shelby. We returned to Camp Apache where I was early last week with JJ. Only this time much better. As soon as we pulled in, we met Col. Marty Leppert AKA "Cowboy" He is the type of leader that is omnipresent. Better that kind than a weakling; his is a very strong leadership style. But nonetheless, as soon as we pulled in, he was pulling out. He said, "I only have room for one." I told him that that would not work, that these two reporters from one of the most influential papers in the nation had been contained for over a week between Kabul and Kandahar due to ineffective PAOs on the ground in the South of Afghanistan and that I needed another vehicle.

"Hey Chief," Leppert called to a Senior Navy NCO), can I use your rig?" "Just topped it off sir and the radio is programmed" "Got it. Strong you're driving and we're leaving right now." "Great sir, I'm right behind you and I'm driving, my call sign is Phoenix Five." Roger, I am Thunderbolt Six. Let's roll." We our and hit the road, like six minutes after arriving in this remote FOB outside the Castle. We went to link up wiht the other element, load Rick, the photographer into a different rig and were off to observe the first ever combined arms Afghan Battalion level operation. Over 100 ANA surrounding two villages that had Taliban activity last week... as in one of our NCOs was shot at last week while performing a "Meet and Greet" (His words) and returned fire with the M240 Bravo, killing two Taliban. We drove out into the hinterlands across precarious roads or lack thereof in the heart of the high desert of the Taliban controlled countryside.

It was the start of a very interesting morning. In our Observation POst, OP, I linked up with the ANA leaders, the staff officers led by the Bn XO. All of these men had had nothing before this, but were motivated to fight and to have their families thrive. I came over to the beautiful sounds of Afghan music piping thru their CD player in the non-armored Ford Rangers that are their only transport. I told them that I was a drummer back home and that I very much enjoyed the music...tablas and lutes and elegant male vocals filling the austere desert space. when they cranked up the volume, I told the interpretter that it was nice but that the Taliban can hear just as much as they can. The Sgt. Maj. heard this and leaned in and very sternly turned it down.

But we gabbed for about an hour as we sat in an overwatch position far removed from the two companies of Afghan soldiers did the search of two separate villages.

We later moved into position in the villages. Long drive across the country bump and grind staying in the exact tracks of the rig before you for avoidance of potential IEDs. We got there and hiked up the hill to meet Capt. Mike Olson, newly
arrived two days ago as an embedded trainer and a staff officer I suffered through
Shelby with for four months.

Nothing. No bad guys, no bomb making materials, no anything.

It was then we withdrew to a rally point at the foot of the mountain that oversees the entire valley.

The Bn chief mentor, Lt. Col. Harold Walker, an Active Guard officer from South Dakota (and briefly the State Public Affairs Officer) noticed a cave at the top of the mountain. "Let's go check it out. Hey, PAO want to come with your reporter?" We looked up to the top of the Mountain above us at the small cave at the peak. "Roger that, Coyote Six."

Well, let me tell you. Qalat is already at 6,000 ft. in the arrid high desert. The mountain was at least another 1,000 above us. The cave at the very top. Of five ascenders, I was the last to make it, carrying full body armor with basic load of ammo for two weapons, a rifle and pistol, loaded, helmet and a seven lb. camera around my neck. You take ten steps and are panting. But "Surrender" as I told Col. Leppert from about forty feet below him, "is not a Ranger word." "Don't worry, Ranger,' Lt. Col. Walker said, "You'll get used to the altitude. How long have you been here anyway, two months?" "Sixteen days, Sir." Sixteen days...wow!

I made it...Painfully, but I made it. Despite a good coat of 45 sunblock that I put on every morning as aftershave, I got burned as well, but not so bad. I commenced my walk down the mountain. We returned and linked up with Rick Loomis, the photographer (http://www.loomisphotography.com). Zucchino and I each separately and together told him of our climb, something that 24 hours later has become a bit of a joke..."I heard you guys climbed the foot of the Himalayas yesterday. Would you tell me about it?"

We returned through a very busy day of commerce in Qalat. I saw this woman in the traditional Burka, hidden from view from all, but yet a vision of this country. She contrasted so sharply with the brightly dressed Hazaras in the field.

When we got back we ate a great meal here at Camp Apache and I pulled off my soaked uniform (I drank 12 bottles of water throughout the day) and crashed hard for almost two hours. Woke up and showered, read an article about Lewis Millet
in the Army Times, the former Honorary Colonel of my Regiment, the 27th Infantry Wolfhounds, that brought a smile, as well as a comprehensive piece about a crushing Taliban victory from lat May. The result of the native force killed two French Special Forces trainers as well as 18 ANA. It also left some crushed pride and damaged relationships in this tortured land just west of here in Helmand Province.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rockets overhead

Nice. Well, the Command Sergeant Major of the 205th RCAG called it over a dinner of crab legs and lobster tails...I guess that is a standard Saturday night fever here. As we finished our dinner, Col. Jeff Petrucci, Maj. Perry Tangen, the Cmd. Sgt. Maj. and I wiped our chins and gathered the refuse of the dinner plates. "I think we'll get hit with rocket fire tonight, Gentlemen. 2000, maybe 2200. Mark me."

As Maj. Tangen and I were taking advantage of the DSN networks access to connect locally with our wives, it came in. ZZZZSSSCHHHRRRRREEWWWWWW...BOOM ZZzsgcrewww..Biff! Two rockets right overhead landed in the middle of our FOB.

The reports have come in that there were no serious injuries, only one slight wound, but it served as a reminder of the danger of th theatre. Interestingly enough, one of the company first sergeants said it reminded him of five o' clock Charlie on MASH. No aim , random chaos, but occassionally a near hit or minor success.

Going down for the night. I need to make sure my reporters are doing well...They are, but I should hear it from them.

-out here

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kandahar and Qalat, The Governor and Alexander's Castle

Since that day, I departed from Camp Phoenix and have been down in the South. I just returned to Kandahar this afternoon, having spent the past two days in Qalat. I am escorting NPR reporter J.J. Sutherland here in the South of Afghanistan. He is a great reporter with a razor’s focus on getting the story out. That said, he also has a patience based on his experience of multiple trips into Baghdad. As he says, “That is the whole embed process, you never get the story you thought you were going to get. You get a different one.” Well, he has definitely gotten a different story than expected. We have been meeting so many key leaders and seeing so many places within this sort period of time it is incredible. From traveling to the peak of Alexander’s Castle to dining with the Governor of Qalat twice in one day, to interviewing a young captain about his recent role and wounds received while leading an Afghan platoon in a Canadian led battalion movement to contact, Mr. Sutherland and I have been able to document much of this campaign in the past 72 hours.

Traveling through Qalat was fascinating. Rolling in a fully up-armored High Mobility Multiple Wheeled Vehicle, or M114 as it is known, through the heart of Taliban controlled country that, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment, infrastructure and relative stability remains dominated by the repressive policies of the Taliban that frequently move through this village. All of the women above the age of puberty I this remote corner of the word were cloaked in the traditional blue Burkha, despite the 110 degree heat. Few of the children on the sides of the road will wave or smile, lest they be beaten as a consequence of their lack of judgment.

Driving down the hilltop forward operating base, or FOB, named Camp Apache, we passed the “Bala Haizar” or “Castle” I the local tongue, a 3,000 year old ruin originally built by Alexander the Great and occupied by every successive Army of the past two millennia. We passed it as we needed to get to a vitally important meeting held weekly on the Governor’s Compound, but were assured that we would see more of it later. When I asked LTC Evrage if I could walk up the street to take a photo of the striking fortress, he quietly smirked “Hell no. This is a very dangerous part of town here, know what I’m saying? Inside these walls we’re relatively safe ‘cuz it’s a bad idea to gun someone down in front of the Governor’s place. No, we’ll go up there later.”

We entered the Governor’s compound through a bamboo lift and a metallic gate into a facility surrounded by a four meter wall. Once within the walls, we were welcomed into the meeting, an enormous room with over a dozen guests already seated. These included members of the Governor’s staff, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams and their security detail, the leader of the local Afghan National Police squadron and his deputy, the executive officer of the infantry battalion from the 10th Mountain Division that continues to conduct offensive operations against the Taliban in this area, and us, the trainers of the Afghan National Army. It was a closed meeting during which we discussed the priorities of the region.

From the start Governor Dill bar jan “Arman” exerted control over the entire meeting. Speaking in Pashto and working through an interpreter that translated the speaker’s addres into both English and Dari, he spoke of his recent meeting with President Karzai and strongly voiced his leadership in the region. Much of the content of the meeting was, as I mention above, was closed to official notes, but his focus, leadership and command of the region was clear from the start. Half way through the meeting he dismissed the interpreters, other than his own and declared suddenly in very clear and commanding English, “I have told all of you before and I do not want to say this again, so please listen to me this time. When we are discussing security issues of the Zabol province, we will do so with on interpreter that understands American English an that has been approved by me and my staff. I will not be lulled into false security by discussing matters with Terps (local American slang for Interpreters) that do not have a proper security credential or need to know these matters, understand?”

It was clear that all in the room understood both his intent and that he was in charge.

The meeting lasted for about three hours, during which time we were served the traditional chai and small plates of nuts, raisins, and sweets. After we had our meeting, the Governor invited us to join him for a walk and lunch. We exited the compound and walked down the street. The Governor had two teenaged boys that he walked with initially, their hands in his hands, as we exited the walls of his citadel. I asked him if they were his sons. He explained, “No. Their father was a strong supporter and friend of mine. He was killed by the Taliban. I am offering them some time to be with me, a good meal and some support during this hard time for them. Do you understand,” again emphasizing the need to reaffirm that his English was clear enough to be fathomed. We entered his home, another walled citadel that he had only finished the month before. We entered the building washed our hands and were seated at a four meter by one meter table with he at the head and LTC Evrage and I to his immediate right, the battalion XO and the two boys to his immediate left. Business, as in any civil breaking of bread regardless of culture, was not discussed at the table. It was a lavish meal with fresh bread, a cucumber, yolk and cream drink with paprika favoring the top, beef kabobs, stewed lamb, macaroni noodles and Pepsi colas for the entire table. However, I noticed, the Governor drank a Coca-Cola, perhaps a soda connoisseur at heart.

As we finished our meal, the Governor spoke of how a previous American medical staff officer was always coming to his door every day reminding him to get out and go for a walk, to exercise his body as well as his mind. “He was a good man,” he said “I miss him,” he laughed as he placed his hand on his belly. “Sir,” I asked “How will these boys ever become big and strong like us if they eat so sparingly?” alluding to the boys barely eaten plates. “I do not know,” he replied. Lt. Col. Evrage leaned over to me, “That is more food than these boys have likely seen in a week, Bud,” he explained. So many small things noticed in this far away place.

We left after lunch, but not without gaining the Governor’s invitation to join him for in the evening for a formal interview with J.J. Southerland, for the record, on tape, at his home. “Join me again for dinner tonight. It will be beautiful.” We agreed to return at seven in the evening.

Remounting the truck is a ritual of combat. First the combat locks of the doors need to be opened, then removing the pistol holster from over the shoulders, clipping the M4 rifle’s Wolf clip to the right shoulder of the 60 plus pounds of the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) protective vest. With nothing mounted on it, it weighs about forty pounds. With a basic load of 9mm and 5.56mm ball ammo, a first aid kit, Camelbak hydration system and a wolf-clipped M4 rifle hanging from your right shoulder, it is easily 60-70 pounds. I then replaced the shoulder holster, gave myself the shakes to get it all to settle into position and replaced my Boonie cap with my Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH). Finally, I did the most uncomfortable part…fitting my six foot, five inch (the extra inch from the helmet) frame into a space designed for a five foot eight inch average soldier compartment of the front seat of this armored rig. It is much more easily said than done. No wonder the Army is reconsidering its century old disinterest in chiropractic medicine.

Off to the castle.
We then drove up the fortress into the history. Entering the castle walls had an eerie feeling of entering the realm of the ancients. Amazing to see the entire Qalat Valley from this peak defensive position that had been held by the Ancient Greeks, the Afghans, the British, the Soviet Russians, the Taliban and now the Americans. From here, the second brigade of the 205th Corps has its headquarters. Inside these walls, the brigade commander and his Afghan troops hold the key terrain, launching operations from their command post.

We walked around the area in unrelenting 120 degreee heat, viewing the ancient columns and archways and ascending to the peak. Here atop the highest point of the Castle, what once was an observation post, the Governor's new tea house is under construction. He started this project after an historic visit of "His Excellent Highness President Hamid Karzai" as he is properly referred to by the people of his country. "He was the first leader of Afghanistan," Governor Arman had explained to me "to ever visit Qalat. His visit was a great honor. Soon we will have a house to have tea and discussion and to view this renewed country."

The builders of this tea house had a serious look.

We met the Embedded trainers of this team, two lieutenants that are part of a four man team that makes this austere locale their home. It was much like a firehouse in its feel. A central kitchen, a work out room, bunks and cold storage rooms. All within walls that once housed every one from Afghan mujahideen to Alexandrian centurians. Extraordinary.

Later that evening, we returned to join the Governor for dinner. After an extensive interview with JJ, the Governor asked us to join him for dinner. Another lavish feast and interesting discussion.

I will follow this up again later this evening...have to move to a mission currently. I will load photos after we return to my work place and I can download the imagery.

-out here

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Relief in Place, First Loss and Kites

On the Fourth of July, we assumed the mission of CJTF Phoenix. It was a beautiful day preceded by the rares of Afghan events a double rainbow foreshadowing the polychromatic light of the upcoming leadership of Task Force Phoenix. It was a great day for all of us.

On July fifth, almost exactly 24 hours into the mission, we had our first casualty. It made for a serious and unpleasant welcome to the reality of the environment we have now entered. 1st Sgt. (posthumously promoted to Sgt. Maj.) Jeffrey McLochlin had served with Phoenix for ten months as an embedded trainer. He was what we call a “4.25 guy” meaning that he had served with Phoenix IV from about a fourth of the way through the mission and was going to remain with us for about two more months. Like the motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment he once served within, he was leading the way until the end. He was killed by enemy small arms fire. His legacy was that of a beloved leader of soldiers both U.S. and Afghan, a loving father and husband, and professional police officer. He was 42 years old.

That evening, several of us joined Lt. Col. Gregory Moore, my predecessor, in his last mission. We drove up to the top of Mausoleum Hill to distribute kites to Afghan children. They were very nice kites, professional quality nylon with a variety of shapes and sizes. The kids loved them and were so happy to fly them in the blistering wind. It was almost too extreme to get them into the air.

I thought of First Sergeant Jeffrey McLochlin's spirit flying high over the Afghan countryside where his spirit left this world, and the children he left behind. Fly on, First Sergeant. Fly on.

-out here

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Day One, Turbans, Ambassadors, Helicopters and Dust

I arrived at Camp Phoenix yesterday afternoon and had my first opportunity before me within 24 hours of arrival. Today has been one Hell of a way to start this adventure. A major event was scheduled for late this morning, the dedication of the Gardez Military Justice Center, the second such academy for Afghan National Police in the nation. We departed from Camp Phoenix for Kabul International Airport, otherwise known as KIA. Nice. It s the same majorinternational base that we arrived at yesterday afternoon. As I said to my soldiers that made the journey with me on arrival there, "Welcome to Europe." There are military members for so many nations on this post. Danes, Swedes, Germans, French, Italians, Norwegians, Romanians, South Koreans, Bulgarians, Mongolians, British, Australians, more people than you can possibly understand could assemble in one place under once command.

But this morning, we arrived in time to eat at the dining facility at KIA. Very nice European breakfasts served with real flatware and plates. It was a nice way to start a very long day. After breakfasst we assembled on the flight line where we met tseveral members of the Afghan media as well as several other civilians and a few Afghan military members.

We were greeted by an escort officer, who gave us our flight brief. Just as he finished, two enormous CH-47 Chinook helicopters arrived. We boarded them through the rear door, suffering the blast furnace of its dual jet engines as is always the case when boarding these extraordinary beasts. Looking to my left, I noticed Major General Durbin, our higher commanding officer, the commander of the Office of Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (OSTC-Alpha), seated next to the German Ambassador to Afghanistan.

We soared out across the Afghan countryside, flying Southeast to the province of Paktia, near the city of Gardez. Gardez, was the launching point for Operation Anaconda, the major offenseive in the Tora Bora mountain range led by the 10th Mountain Division as we first entered Afghanistan in 2001-2002. The terrain was as treacherous as its Taleban inhabitants.

A great benefit to jumping into this on my first day was it enabled me to get out into the filed with both my deputy, 1st Lieut. Cathrin Fraker and my higher Public Affairs Officer, Maj. Bob Tallman. Cathrin has proved her mettle over the past few months at Camp Shelby and had coordinated to get me onto this trip. She is doing great work and is building the relationships that will get her the access she will need to go memorable work. Bob and I first met on the Gettysburg Battlefield several years ago as part of a officer's staff ride. He is a first class public affairs officer and rapidly becoming a great friend.

We landed about 45 minutes after our departure, and were taken to the ceremonial grounds, and enermous fest tent was erected with about two hundred Afghan visitors, most of them in the ceremonial turbans for the event.

The emcee announced several distinguished guests , many of whom spoke at the event. these included the regional governor of Paktia, the German Ambassador and the American Ambassador, as well as several local leaders and the regional member of the Parlaiment.

The American Ambassador made a bold announcement that was not anticipated by the audience. He, announced that the United States was delivering over a thousand pistols and other poice weapons as well as several score SUV for the police and this did not seem to move the audience as they anticipated as much. However, when he announced that starting this month the United States was making a $6M investment in building the freeway between Gardez and Khost, the entire audience applauded. The build-out will begin this month and continue through the fall of 2008. It was amazing to witness.

I think the following is one of the best images I have ever captured.

Frankly, the crispness of his gentleman's turban, enfolding the seriousness of his eyes, is something I find entrancing. I am honored to have shared time with this man, as someone who just gave him a bottle of cold water as I sat on the rug covered gravel close to him, shooting photos and video of the speakers. Then suddenly, after I had captured this photo and shared it with him on the tiny screen to his appreciative smile, he got up and gave the most passionate address to the audience, without notes, straight from the heart. This man in the most regal turban of the entire audience, was the elected member of parliament of this region. I thanked him in Dari on his return to his seat and he placed his hand over his heart and nodded acknowledgment.

After the speeches and the dedication, we witnessed the payoff for the months of training that had led us to this time and place. To witness these young Afghan men performing the functions they will execute as police officers with a level of expertise that you see typically only in the United States and Germany, was inspiring. It was another example of the dedication that this broad coalition has made to the peace and stability of the new, emerging Afghanistan.

Better still was to see this training being led by Afghan police officers who had been trained by American and German career police officers. Witnessing the product of this "train-the trainer" concept put into action was great as it was Afghans training Afghans with the back-up of the coaltion.

Within my first 48 hours within this nation, I feel so inspired by what I have seen: teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Different people with different language skills, different tactics and methods, all working together to make a nation safe. It makes me wonder why more media don't pay more attention to this effort....

-out here