The weather is overcast as I sit here looking out through the double glass doors onto a section of the runway at Delhi International. Passengers to Kabul are easy to spot . There is the way they dress of course but it is more in the eyes. The American across from me is nervous as if wondering what awaits. The Afghan eyes speak of histories and stories never told...
I am now just waiting. There is no rushing things in this part of the world.
29 March 2009.
Twenty hours later, after a short attempt at sleep, I sit here in the community computer room typing this entry. Camp Phoenix is familiar. I walk around here with the familiarity of a regular visitor. Yet so much is changing. New facilities being added, new barracks being constructed - this time from steal rather than wood. The plans are laid on to tear down all of the wood living huts and replace them with metal container rooms. The idea of "temporary" or "short term" is quickly being overwritten with "lasting" and "extended stays."
Within in all of this is the already present uncertainty of command structures. Unity of command has remained one of the greatest obstacles to military operations in Afghanistan. Special Operations forces have approached this as a counter-insurgency fight. The Regular Army has tried to adapt, but ultimately has struggled with its own histories and pasts, unable to leave its own culture forged on years of cold war thinking, national armies and the politics of careers. The unrecognized paladin's being the National Guard, who along with Special Operations groups, have been responsible for training and mentoring the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and Afghan Border Police. What Special Operations forces and the National Guard have in common is the common goal of building the army and security forces so that it is the Afghans fighting their own fight; to get the job done and come home. Any reference to victory is just a parenthetical buzz word for some form of exit strategy.
But like so many things in this part of the world, one must wait and see. Time seems to flow at a different pace here; a part of the world where time seems to have actually remained still. But even that is changing. Nothing here is it as it seems.
As my Afghan friend reminded me yesterday morning as I got out of his car to enter Camp Phoenix, "Trust no one. You are back in Afghanistan."