Trip to Gardez, 3-4 April 2005
Driving in Kabul
Leaving Kabul
On to Gardez
Gardez Camps
Sp Forces
Random Thoughts



As noted earlier, insurgent activities in Afghanistan are not often reported in the news, but the secure network on our desks have daily – yes, daily – reports of explosives or weapon caches found, rockets fired, police chiefs caught taking bribes or assassinated.  

The United Nations and the many military forces in-country, together with the Afghan government, is running a successful program called DDR – Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration.

Demobilization refers to disbanding the many warlord-led militias throughout the country (and bringing some of the warlords themselves into the government). Disarmament, of course, aims to reduce the amount of weaponry in the country, not just small arms but also artillery, tanks and other large guns. Reintegration is the nation’s welcome to the Taliban foot soldiers to return to civil society without retribution, even as the Taliban’s leadership remains an enemy.

But this battle for Afghanistan’s survival isn’t assured yet. The obstacles are so great as to sometimes seem overwhelming. Loyalty is first to family, then to tribe, local mullah or strongman, to ethnicity (Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, etc), or religion (Sunni/Shiite) - and last to nation. Literacy rates are barely above 30%. Poverty is severe, ranked in the five poorest nations of the world, and leading inevitably to corruption. Its women, half the population, are uneducated and stay hidden behind walls or burkas, a huge untapped resource.  

But spend a little time here and you want the Afghan people to succeed. They are intelligent and industrious, affable with their friends, implacable to their enemies.  

In the past three years since the Taliban were defeated, billions of dollars have poured into the country to rebuild its infrastructure and create what citizens of a modern country take for granted. A police force. A judicial system. Elected government officials whose allegiance is not first to their family or village. Banks. An army. Roads without potholes. Running water, sewage, electricity.  

It seems overwhelming, but as has been said about the journey of a thousand miles, it has to begin somewhere, sometime. 


next: Military Camps at Gardez