Campbell had first come to Afghanistan in 2002 as a colonel when the mission was hunting down Osama bin Laden and Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader. Soon his son, who was in elementary school during that first Afghanistan tour, will return for his third deployment in the country.I was a mid-range LCDR deployed to the 5th Fleet AOR when 911 went down, and had a bit part in the initial invasion of Afghanistan through the end of the year. I had a child just a few months old. Eight years later, I ended the last year of my active duty career on the deck in that sad nation. I've been off active duty for over half a decade, and that child is now driving me around with her learner's permit.
A lone, mud-walled compound clinging to the side of a mountain below caught Campbell’s eye.
“You wonder how they can live like that,” he said.
Sherman often had similar thoughts about the country where he had spent most of the past six years. “I always wish I could have a sense of perspective,” he said. “I wish I could have visited Kabul or Kandahar during the Taliban regime just to have a sense of what it was like.” He wanted to see Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s reign or Afghanistan during the brutal civil war of the 1990s.
He wished he could go back to Baraki Barak and try to piece together exactly what had happened. Why had a place that seemed so promising and received so much American attention and aid faltered? What had he missed?
“The war doesn’t end, and that’s why I am conflicted leaving,” Sherman said. “There’s still so much to do, and there’s still so much more that I don’t know. I don’t know a smidgen of this country. Do I know a lot of Afghans? Absolutely. But in my mind what I don’t know is the same as when I first got here.”
The war goes on. I'm still trying to figure out this corner of it.
Read the whole thing to get a feeling of where Matt Sherman is as well. I think he's got it right; simplicity.
Hat tip Andrew.