Last night I met some soldiers here in Tashkent for a little R&R at the bar of a hotel. They’ve been serving with a unit near Kandahar.
“So, what’s up with Afghanistan?”
He stared at me. It was not a pleasant stare.
” Tell you what. Since you’re from Texas I’ll talk. But no unit or location talk, except to say Tashkent and Kandahar. Opsec, man. Know what I mean?”
“Agreed. Can I say you’re from Texas?”
“Sure, why not.”
“You gonna put this in your book?”
“I might. Depends on what you say. And what you don’t say. You know?”
“Uh-huh. Well, all you really need to know is that it’s fucked. The pockets of resistance get bigger all the time. Of course the press is obsessed with WMD, Iraq and tax-cuts. They don’t give a shit about us guys bleeding in Afghanistan. Nor do the politicians. They got us into this crap and they aren’t giving us the tools to fix it. We CAN solve this problem,” he said, “as he slammed his drink onto the bar.
“Gimme another rum and coke,” he asked the bartender.
Turning to me he said, “They don’t even care about the guys fighting in Iraq. It’s getting bad there too. You want a drink partner?”
“Sure, water, still—no gas,” I told the bartender.
“What the hell kind of drink is that?”
“Got a bad stomach,” I lied.
“Ahh, yeah, that’ll do it. Reminds me of this Afghani that was fighting for Hekmatyar. You know, the Iranian’s got their hands all over Afghanistan right now. Well, as I was saying, that boy, couldn’t a been older than 20, has a bad stomach now too. I put a couple of bullets into it,” he said, unable to look me in the eyes.
“It’s getting bad there. And Mr. Bush don’t give a shit. You got a phone number? I got a guy who might want to talk to you.”