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Making Our Army Look Good and Afghans Look Really Bad

Chinook helicopter above Combat Outpost Keatin...

Combat Outpost Keating

The headline on the front page of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Saturday, June 11, 2011, shouted:

AS FORT CARSON SOLDIERS DIED, AFGHAN ARMY HID.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but given the persistence of The Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the century old reputation of Afghan men as “Warriors in the fields, Poets at home”, this headline didn’t ‘ring true’ to me.

Colorado Springs is a military town, and I understand that “The Gazette” has been trying for years to gain an advertising contract with the military bases, with this in mind I decided to dig deeper.

Though the story was true to the original article which I found on-line, I found the headline had been changed, thus changing the intent of the article written by Richard Lardner and filed with the  Associated Press. I highly recommend the article below with the true headline.*

Investigation faults US officers for leaving troops vulnerable in firefight, raps Afghans, too

*http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=w7115020

I draw attention to this, not to undermine the tragic loss of life experienced by the US Army at Combat Outpost Keating. I understand, also why a local newspaper would not want to alienate the Military with a less than flattering headline about US officers. I also understand that I’ve been in this city for less than one month…what do I really know?

While I don’t condone stealing, nor do I intend to “take sides” against the US Military, here’s the thing:

Manipulating people’s minds through a local newspaper just seems wrong to me.

Ironically, the Gazette headline brought to mind the movie, The God’s Must Be Crazy, which many years ago charmed audiences at the innocence and wonder of African tribesmen as they were introduced to Coca-Cola bottles and modernity.

I’ve heard commentators say that many areas of Afghanistan, outside of the cities, resemble the world may have been in the “fourth century”!

In a bizarre way, I was reminded of similarities between the African innocents and the Afghan military men, some recruited from their fourth to twelfth century homes and villages, into the Army to train side by side with US troops and the ultra-modern equipment they take for granted.

Oh, yes, I realize the Afghans are hardened warriors, that’s pretty much my point, and the opposite of the picture the Gazette headline painted of the “wimpy”, hiding Afghan Army men.

Sure, Afghan men are intimately acquainted with AK-47‘s and rocket launchers but not digital cameras and protein drinks which the article states they “stuffed” into their duffel bags.

I wonder if the US Army recognized this discrepancy in culture as an issue?

The Gazette headline came down pretty hard on these guys, who were expected to fight like fiends against their own people, for…what?

Any fool can predict that the USA is not going to build an emerging modern nation out of a fourth century one after they are finished defeating the insurgents. One thing these guys are for sure, and that is ‘not fools’. Whoever remains in Afghanistan, whoever will be their neighbors, they know it won’t be the soldier crouching beside them with that fancy digital camera.

Seems like they know something we don’t. Maybe the big question is, what are we missing?

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