OCTOBER 4 - JARROD CROCKETT - EXPERIENCES IN AFGHANISTAN
President Ellie and Speaker Jarrod Crockett
Jarrod Crockett - Experiences in Afghanistan
Jarrod began his talk with the following: "My wife told me to speak and I'm a good soldier. I followed orders."
Jarrod was a Army Infantry Officer in 2003, after which he finished law school at Appalachian School of Law. He then served as a combat advisor to a company in Afghanistan. He was there for a total of 18 months. 100 Afghans worked with Jarrod along the Afghan- Pakistan border.
Why are we in Afghanistan? Following the Communist regime in Kabul, war lords took over. The Afghans could not manage to get a centralized government together so the Taliban rose to power instituting their extreme interpretation of the Koran. After September 11, 2001, the first US ground forces arrived in Afghanistan in October.
Jarrod received a mandatory order to become a guest instructor for counter insurgency operations, teaching both Americans and Afghans. He emphasized that there cannot be an American victory in Afghanistan. The only victory is when Afghans form their own successful centralized government. This is a difficult task because of the tribal nature of Afghanistan and the mountainous terrain.
Afghans need a good quality of life and security. They need education, medical care and an economic structure that provides for growth. For years Afghans have been fighting Russians, the Taliban and even each other. Counter Insurgency teaches Afghans to stabilize, doing such things as building schools, helping to provide medical care and food drops. They are being taught that security grows from within. Afghans need to protect the people not fight them. When Afghan soldiers connect with little kids bringing them backpacks and soccer balls and building schools, they realize these are the people they are defending. In order to be successful, we need to get Afghans to be "the helpfuls".
Another problem is to help Afghans get rid of outside influences as so many of the insurgents are from other countries.
One experience that was particularly meaningful to Jarrod was the building of a school in the small village of Lwara. The former school which was a structure of small shacks had one corner blown off by an IUD. Luckily the children were not in that area of the building. However parents didn't want to send their children to that school anymore. Jarrod helped the Afghans set up a new school which was open to both boys and girls although they were taught in separate classrooms. A farmer's field was also rented to use for a soccer field. Amazingly enough although this village was on the Afghan- Pakistan border no rockets were launched at the soldiers or children during the day.
There were three Afghans that were particularly memorable to Jarrod. Momen Quadiri was one of those people. He was a professor in Kabul when the Russians came in 1979 and was related to the Queen. He served as an interpreter to Jarrod, teaching him about the people and the culture. Momen definitely wanted what was best for his country. Although he now lives in Virginia he often returns to help his people.
The second man was named Bu Nabi which means Strong Flower. He was not an extremist but a committed and fierce fighter whose brother had been killed by the Taliban. Most of the Afghans went home every 30 days to take their pay checks to the family. Bu Nabi did not always follow this pattern of going in and out. Once an angry 6' 5" Afghan charged Jarrod because he wanted to go home. Bu Nabi jumped between them telling the guy that it was not the American's fault. He was only here to help.
The third gentleman was an older Afghan who had fought for some 30 years. He was a great fighter with a distinguished background and committment to his family.
Jarrod asked us to congratulate Bob Laux who is working hard on a Veterans Memorial.
VISITING ROTARIANS & GUESTS: Jarrod Crockett (Paige Crockett).