Wednesday, January 6, 2010


"The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you." - Soren Kierkegaard
"Finish" was one word our ANA knew in English. They'd been around Americans long enough to pick up that one very useful word at least. They pronounce it kind of like "pfinish", but the point is they knew what it meant. The word itself actually became a powerful camaraderie-building tool for us, as it really allowed the ETTs and the ANA to communicate directly with each other without the need for a terp, albeit in a very limited way, though one might be surprised how far that one word can go....

We might hear them say something like "Dooshman (the Pashto word for enemy) pfinish!!" when we were back at the base debriefing after the gunfights. I can recall a Marine saying "House is finish" to a couple of ANA and them returning huge gap-toothed grins after a bomb was dropped on a mud hut. Saying "Finish" after a meal meant the ANA might stop exhorting you to eat and drink more. When the ANA went to look for a blivet of fuel that we allowed to go rolling down the mountainside, they came back and pretty accurately described the blivet and its contents as "Finish". Saying "Finish" and holding empty hands in the air in reference to whatever the ANA were asking us for might get them off our case briefly.

In the end, for myself and the other ETTs I worked with, our time with the ANA was finished. Our ANA are still there, likely doing the same things, and playing the same games, that they did with us, but the reality is they can't escape from the war the way we can. Not that I feel sorry for them; they'll need to take ownership of their situation if they want it to improve, but it was always important to keep in mind that the ANA are in it for the long haul when we became frustrated at their lack of initiative.

Someday the fighting in Afghanistan may even be finished. Whatever the case may be for the future of the war, it is most definitely time for this blog to be finished. I had a few more topics on my list, but it's time to move on.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who's read and supported this blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it...