Monday, August 27, 2007

Hearing Double

You have all heard of seeing double, but you may not have heard of "hearing double". This week I attended a conference on the ANP (Afghan National Police) presenting our strategies for moving forward. The audience consisted of US and coalition forces along with Afghans from the Minister of Interior and ANP. Because we have English and Dari speakers everything has to be said twice; first in English and then in Dari. You can imagine how long it takes to get through a meeting as the speakers must pause and wait for translation. It's not like we are at a NATO meeting with headphones and have an interpreter speaking in our ears. The meeting goes something like this.

US Speaker "I would like to welcome you all to today's meeting."
Translator "Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah"

US Speaker "Knock Knock"
Translator "Blah Blah"

Audience "Who's there?
Translator "Blah Blah"

US Speaker "Wooden who?"
Translator "Blah Blah?"

US speaker "Wooden you like to know"
Pause for laughter
Translator "Blah Blah Blah"
Pause for laughter

OK there was no laughter, and you can see how this would make comedy pretty tough. OK, there was no knock knock joke either, but you get the idea of how slowly this conference ensued. What would normally have taken about an hour to get through, took about three hours. Such is the way it is in Afghanistan, you must have a lot of patience.

I also attended a meeting at the Minister of Interior's office. Another opportunity for patience. We waited for almost 45 minutes to start and then the agenda was completely different than what we expected; so we really did not get anything done. Not every day is like this, but things definitely move at a slower pace. Its kind of like the difference between the East Coast and West Coast of the US... except the difference is multiplied by 10.

We had a very serious incident this week. Two of my team members were injured in a VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) attack. They were convoying when a car hit the lead vehicle and blew up. The two guys in the first vehicle were injured pretty seriously but survived, the guys in the second vehicle assisted getting the guys out of the first vehicle and called for help. It really hit the team here pretty hard as these were our guys that we work with every day. The two injured guys were medevaced out to a hospital. One of them was seriously injured and will require some reconstructive surgery. We are all thinking about them and praying for their recovery. It has been very active around here the past few weeks with many attacks... you may have read about them in the news. We are all well trained but it is difficult to predict the IED attacks.

Back on the homefront, the kids started school today.

Thomas is now a Third grader and Madigan is a First grader. Time flies. I am sure the house will be busy as usual as Rebecca will be reminding (that is the nice version) the kids to get their homework done.

Peace to you all,


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