Na Ruz Salaun Mubarak
My Deputy, Capt. Dan Miner and I, after working through many of the ongoing efforts of analysis of our redeployment plan with Lt. Cdr. Outcalt, Master Sgt. Persson and Sgt. 1st Class Ping, decided to enjoy the late afternoon sun by playing some frisbee. Once we realized the muddy gravel pit we were playing in wasn't the friendliest, we went over to the Afghan side of our compound with two frisbees and several bottles of water and asked the Afghan Soldiers to join us. Slowly, one by one, they came out onto the parade field and joined us in learning the basics of throwing the "Flying Disk" of the Whamo Corporation across the tarmack field that they use for marching practics and upon whihc they will graduate in the weeks to come.
They caught on quickly and were soon giving the two Americans a run for their efforts. We divided them into Team Sia and Team Sudz for Black and Green as some were in the black track suit they use as a PT uniform and the others were in their Army fatigues, which are predominantly green.
After playing for an hour, we took a break and talked. Fortunatley one of them was fluent in English and served as my "Tarjaman" or Interpreter. I told them how proud I was to serve with them and that, while we may be from different countries, we were now brothers as they became Soldiers. I held up my fingers separately and said, "Each one of these fingers is one of you. This one is Hazara. This one Pashtun. This one is Uzbek. And this one is Aimaq. This one is Turkmen. By themselves they are not very strong." I playfully sturck the Soldier closest with me with one finger then the next. "But together," I said balling my hand into a tight fist, "This is Afghanistan, with all of its people working together and it is strong and powerful." To make my point I simulated striking it as a blow to the chest of the closest Soldier, stopping as it actually made contact. "You are all one group now and are stronger for working together. As private Soldiers, you have the hardest job and must survive the roughest conditions, but the more you apply yourself and the better you learn your lessons of your sergeants, the better Soldiers you will become nad the better Afghanistan will become."
We continued to play for another hour (The guys on the Sia team won, man these guys are competitive) and I gave them one last rally before leaving. As I left, one of the Soldiers, my Tarjaman, asked if I had any American news magazines to practice reading English. He and another Soldier, originally Indian and older (23), asked for anything that would inform them about the world and in English. I grabbed some old copies of The Economist and Time as well as several copies of the ISAF newspaper printed in English, Dari and Pashto. It was very appreciated. I wished them a Happy New Year and reminded them that I would come back out to play with them again next Friday.
A good way to start a new year.