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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

OCTOBER 2015

25

FOCUS

ON CIV-MIL RELATIONS

I

n the fall of 2012, at the age of 55, I experienced

for the first time the reality of war. This experience

did not involve wearing a uniform or carrying a

gun. But for 12 months I worked alongside those

who did.

Sometimes I traveled “outside the wire,”

walking through potential kill zones in some of

the most violent parts of Afghanistan. On one

cruel day in early April 2013 I survived a suicide

bomber’s attack in Zabul that killed a fellow diplomat, my

Afghan-American translator and three American soldiers.

We often rode in Black Hawk helicopters. The female waist

gunner on one flight from Kandahar to Spin Boldak was young

THE DUST

of Kandahar

A Senior FSO recounts his experience working alongside

the U.S. military in southern Afghanistan.

BY JONATHAN S . ADDL ETON

Members of the U.S. Army, 3rd Zone,

Afghan Border Police Security Forces

Advisement Team, shield themselves

from the dust and rocks blown by a

UH-60 Black Hawk taking off behind

them at an unknown location in

southern Afghanistan in 2011.

WIKIMEDIACOMMONS/USAFMASTERSGT.JEFFREYALLEN

and small, almost as young and small as my daughter who had

just started her final year of high school.

Sometimes we traveled by convoy, protected by the heavy

metal of a dust-colored Mine Resistant Ambush Proof vehicle.

Each time I boarded an MRAP, the thought briefly crossed my

mind that this vehicle might well become my tomb.

On other occasions we walked to our appointments, don-

ning helmets and protective armor to meet Afghan officials,

visit schools and inspect irrigation works. American soldiers

from the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia,

provided security.

It was the youth of those around us that was so striking. One

lieutenant who directed my security on several trips to Kandahar