GUEST POST by David Staffa
The title of the book is:
The Afghanistan War Follies: There is no beauty in truth
I am David Staffa and I served in the Afghanistan War from 2010-2011 as a Special Forces Engineer. Before you read this book, there are a few things that you need to know. Number one, I was a soldier and I tell it like I saw it or as it was told to me.
Second, don’t assume that this is a book about the Afghanistan War combat because you will be disappointed. This book is about my and others experiences and what we have learned from these experiences and how it can help you understand people who have served or will serve in the Afghan War.
Although we had many rocket attacks, human wave attacks and suicide bombers, I will let others tell those stories.
Third, I do not have any political aspirations because I have no ax to grind with anyone; well maybe with a few of those people in Congress but that is another story.
Fourth, this is a book about our struggles to make the “military machine” work in our favor. In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam, 4.3% served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror.
For me, it was also a personal journey. Is the Afghanistan Army, with the help of thousands of U.S. and ISAF Forces and advisors, making any headway against the Taliban? Is the Karzai government “winning the hearts and minds of the people?” Does Karzai and his brother seem more interested in suppressing the Afghan people than in dealing with the corruption and incompetence in their government? I wanted answers to these questions by being “on the ground.”
Join the small percentage that have served recently in Afghanistan and read about military life in Afghanistan.
The names have either been redacted or changed to protect their anonymity. The events portrayed here are reality and are reflective of the author’s experience and observations and of the soldiers that I served with during my military tour in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.
I am intensely curious about the things which I see around me and I was the man of a thousand questions. I earned the right to ask these questions to all people in Afghanistan because I noticed no one else bothered to ask them.
These collection of stories are garnered from many personal experiences and stories related to me by U.S. military officers and enlisted men and women, DIA and CIA personnel as well as U.S. military contractors and Afghan military and civilians. Consider these observations a cross between Rambo, MASH and Hogan's Heroes. You will have first hand knowledge because there are battles on many fronts to be won as we look at who the real enemy is here.
Why Special Forces? It was intriguing to me. I am intuitively a winner and that was my appeal. Plus, I liked the free-lance, unbureaucratic, James Bond-like initiative. Humans, as a whole, have always been my initiative in getting things done rather than using hardware. Hardware is merely the tool for succeeding. This is where the conventional Army (also known as Big Army) loses over Special Forces. They lead from the top down rather than from the bottom up. Better decisions and planning always come from the people who do the work – the bottom up theory. Oh, how I wish the civilian working world would learn from this as well.
Although you will find that many things that I reflect back to you in writing seem to state that things are in disarray with everyone in Afghanistan, such is not the case. I worked with a few good civilians and military people but the point I want to make is that competent people, military or civilian, were the exception rather than the rule. As you read the stories in this book, you can see why I state this. Watching U.S. dollars being wasted in this corrupt country while the people in the United States suffer from an economic crisis was disheartening.
My travels in Afghanistan were many. Bagram, Chamkani, Gardez, FOB Curry, FOB Salerno, Shkin, Camp Clark to name a few. Conversing with civilians, government employees and soldiers from different branches of military services and governmental services gave me an entirely objective view of the war and its effects on the U.S. and Afghanistan civilians and soldiers as well. I saw myself as a plain, ordinary soldier but always intensely conscious of my rank, my position in social life as well as my gift of leading people, staff or getting the job done. I am the last person in the world that would let success go to my head because my personality is not designed as such. Eliciting groups of experts for combined judgments was always my secret of being successful and that is the secret of these stories.
Working with some of my fellow soldiers and soldiers of the units - I wasn’t sure what effect they would have on the enemy but some of our soldiers did frighten me because of their lack of competence and intelligence. Many of us “older vets” wanted to go back and join our younger brothers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thinking is that we can teach them how to stay alive. We want to reconnect with our youth, the thrill of battle, that adrenaline rush that you cannot get anywhere else in the world. I and my brothers wanted to be a father and or a brother to these younger guys. I was able to make this happen for myself and I remember thinking these thoughts as well prior to deployment.
What you read going forward is actually put down in writing in chronological order. This means
that the soldiers’ personal experiences as well as mine were put down in writing as soon as I
was able to get to my laptop. Nothing is exaggerated but is merely put down in words as I saw
it or others, both civilian and military, had relayed to me in conversation.