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Story by Graz Graziano, NTM-A
Senior Advisor to the Chief of the Afghan National Army
Recently in his blog, “Why We Are Here,” Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV remembered the attack on America nine years ago and the vile oppression inflicted on Afghan people by the Taliban.
While the general wrote these words, I was traveling with Afghan Minister of Defense, Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, and the Afghan National Army Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, to Kandahar Province, home of the 205th ANA Corps.
Having these two senior leaders flying to arguably the most dangerous venue in Afghanistan to talk directly to Soldiers is a story in itself. We spend a great deal of time with these strong leaders and all of us that work near them know how busy they are.
The intent of this trip was clear, get out of Kabul and speak directly to those on the front line. In doing this, they wanted to hear first-hand about the progression of securing election sites for the people of Kandahar Province. As Lt. Gen. Caldwell also wrote, “there are tough times ahead…The Taliban will not give up their tyranny over the Afghan people without a fight”. Their anticipated attempt to disrupt the free and open elections on Sept. 18 testifies to this.
These two senior leaders accomplished this task, asking questions directly of 205th Corps’ Soldiers and leaders. They spent hours up close and personal working the details to ensure Afghan citizens will have the right to exercise their vote. They also did something else.
After accomplishing the trip’s intent, these leaders had not finished their mission in Kandahar. They decided to visit Afghan ‘Wounded Warriors’ in the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital prior to returning to Kabul…off we went.
Some of us here have visited the young Afghan heroes in the various hospitals around Afghanistan. As strange as it may seem, walking through those wards always seems to lift many of us. What we saw upon entering this particular hospital yesterday was something we did not expect.
Prior to arriving at the wards that housed our Afghan ‘Wounded Warriors’, we came upon the ‘Children’s Ward’. These two senior Afghan leaders did not hesitate…they entered the ward to find two very young and broken children. One of the children was a double amputee. This young boy, without one arm and one leg, was the product of a Taliban IED. Yet, he seemed so resolute…so brave. As I watched the compassion of the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the Afghan General Staff, I contemplated the day that was September 11th. Wondering how anyone could do this to young children, I was reminded of the cowardice that was perpetrated on Americans nine years before. Here again, Lt. Gen. Caldwell had it right in his blog, ‘We see this every day when they murder innocent civilians…and poison innocent school children.
Later as we were concluding our day, several of my American military collogues and I discussed how fortunate we felt to be in Afghanistan on this day…on September 11th…watching these brave leaders reach out to make things better…and to be around that resolute little boy…all the while knowing that he has made us that much more resolute.
Graz Graziano, senior advisor to the chief of the Afghan National Army, visits with a child at Kandahar Regional Military Hospital’s children’s ward, Sept. 11, 2010.
Category: Blog - Afghan National Army
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