THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
ON CIV-MIL RELATIONS
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
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
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.
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,
It was the youth of those around us that was so striking. One
lieutenant who directed my security on several trips to Kandahar