Friday, July 20, 2012

Afghans are Doin'It For Themselves

Today I had that familiar phenomenon of getting a song stuck in your head, but I didn't mind.  The song was the Annie Lennox (Eurythmics) and Aretha Franklin classic - "Sisters are Doing It For Themselves".

However, as I sat through a lengthy but inspirational speech which was NOT being translated (due to the tiny number of non-Afghans) - I tweaked the lyrics a bit to fit the mood of the day.

The occasion was the graduation of forty-some Afghan Local Police (ALP), who sat in the PRT gymnasium in their unadorned brown uniforms, while a gaggle of local elders looked on. They were a curious assortment of men ranging from beardless youngsters to longbeards who had clearly seen and felt the ravages of the conflicts that have swept Afghanistan for decades. U.S. and Korean facilitators sat in the back row while senior police officials hit both the familiar themes of duty, honor and public service that are at the core of nationhood, as well as other topics like religion that would never occur to an American commencement speaker. The new recruits were both praised for their work and that of their Afghan trainers and warned of severe punishment for infractions that have tarnished the reputation of other units (being out of uniform, being away from one's post, etc.).  

In short, having attended countless ceremonies of this kind, it was apparent that this was the first that was completely (OK let's say 95%) Afghan - down to the ritual of affixing the only uniform patch with a firm smack on the arm and holding up the certificate and pledging their life for Afghanistan.

Undaunted by the loss of two of their new colleagues just days before the recruits headed  back to villages threatened by insurgents and Doin'It For Themselves.

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