When you're forward deployed to the front lines of Afghanistan, you will experience a new culture, taste some delicious flatbread, and meet a variety of different people. Ever since the U.S. became involved with GWOT, we've teamed up with the Afghan National Army, training alongside them and even teaching them in order to help make Afghanistan a safer place.
Afghan troops are a one-of-a-kind type of people and, like us, they all joined their military for a reason — but not all of them are necessarily patriotic. In fact, it's pretty rare when they go above and beyond like our troops do.
Depending on where you are stationed, you can work with a squad of them or an entire company; however, within that group of soldiers you'll notice a few surprising personalities that will easily stick out.
1. The English-speaker
Even though English-speaking troops are rare, you can usually find one or two of them out and about. Many of the troops who speak our language aren't typically native to the front lines. Most come from a larger city like Kabul, where they went to school.
They probably aren't fluent, but they can hold their own during a conversation.
(Photo by Master Sgt. Ann Bennett)
2. The ones who don't want to listen
Unfortunately, many of the troops didn't join to fight to help regain control of their country. They did it to earn some cash for their family, which we can respect. Now, because of their lack of patriotism, those guys are less likely to give a sh*t when a firefight breaks out or when one of their Afghan troops gets injured. Their brotherhood isn't nearly as strong as ours becomes.
Most notably, they don't listen to allied forces when it comes to making important suggestions because they flat out don't want to hear what we have to say.
It gets annoying.
3. The one who legitimately cares
In contrast to number two on this list, this soldier does give a f*ck and wants to do his part. He takes initiative and wants to become a better soldier.
Unfortunately, in our experience, these motivators don't stay around long. They end up getting promoted and leaving their frontline duties. It's a bummer.
(Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)
4. The trigger happy one
This guy is cool in his own right but he is unpredictable. You aren't quite sure when he will open fire. But rest assured, he will squeeze that trigger when the time comes.
(Photo by Gunnery Sgt. William Price)
5. The one you're convinced is a bad guy
It's hard not to stereotype Afghan soldiers, especially when there have been documented times when friendly fire has broken out between them and us. Because of that, it's hard to build trust. The truth is, it's not unrealistic to suspect that the Taliban has infiltrated the Afghan National Army.
(Photo by John Scott Rafoss)
6. The one who is rarely ready-to-go
99.9 percent of the time, U.S. troops are ready for patrol once they step outside the wire. In contrast, many Afghan troops aren't well-trained and therefore sometimes forget to bring specific gear or familiarize themselves with the mission route.
It's annoying, but that's the world we live in these days.
(Photo by Spc. Theodore Schmidt)
The most important thing when working with any foreign military is to reach across the divide and get to know the men and women who share your mission. Building trust is key.