Sophia and I have been on an unplanned vacation at my parents' house. We packed for the weekend and ended up staying for the week. (Glad they let me use the laundry!). Soph is still eating about once an hour, and I am eating three meals a day for the first time since before she was born. Hope this finds everyone doing well. Have a happy and safe 4th!
Dear Family & Friends,
I know that I speak for everyone on the team when I say that although our mission is very fulfilling, we are glad that another month is down. Our next milestone is the half-way point in the actual deployment with the six month mark on 28 July!
The ANA brigade and the ETTs continue to stay busy across the seven provinces where we are operating. In addition to security missions and training, this past week we had to provide disaster assistance to the local population in Kunar Province.
This is the rainy season in Southwest Asia. Further east in Pakistan and India, they are clearly having monsoons, and we have had a few hard storms come through too. Much of the rain in Afghanistan is falling in the Hindu Kush mountains to the north, and the run-off has caused flooding in some of our areas, especially in Kunar.
This past week, the ANA led an effort to evacuate some 3,000 residents of a village along the Kunar River that was in danger of being washed away. The residents were primarily neutral to the government and security forces because they are often caught between the Coalition and the anti-coalition militias (ACM), who are not afraid to use intimidation tactics on them. The ACM did not do anything to help, but as a result of the assistance they received from the ANA, they are firmly in the pro-government camp now.
Also this past week, some of us had the opportunity to journey up to Nuristan. This remote, mountainous province was the last area to convert to Islam, only 110 years ago; fellow tribesmen across the border in Pakistan reportedly still practice their ancient pagan religion. Nuristan is another one of those areas that has its own unique language (not like Dari or Pashto) and culture that somehow fit into modern Afghanistan. (I was told that there are 33 different ethnic groups in the country.)
The link below is to our higher headquarters' web page. It has not been updated since May, and I am not sure how often it will be updated. Most of the information and pictures is from Camp Blackhorse where the headquarters is located, but I hope you find it interesting. (You will probably have to copy & paste it into your browser's address bar.)
This coming week is business as normal. We have not decided how we plan to celebrate the 4th of July, but we appreciate the holdiay packages from "Mrs. Tato" to help us liven up the day.
GEORGE M. SCHWARTZ
LTC, ARCommander1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)