Captain Jeremy Hann, The Royal Dragoon Guards writes about the international community in Kandahar and the inauguration of Gen David Petraeus.
When away from home, there are certain triggers that induce the longing to be in England in these summer months, and over the last few weeks these have been manifold; catching the sun-soaked snippets of Wimbledon, Not losing money backing French Raiders at Ascot, being sent photographs by friends. Apart from inducing the desire to be away from here, it also creates a fond reminiscence and a supplicant hopefulness that the days will soon pass ‘fore one’s return.
It has started to get really quite hot recently, about fifty degrees centigrade. The result of which is that the pounds are starting to slip off like an ill-fitting negligee on a Parisian woman of negotiable virtue when her rent is late.
We have had a busy couple of weeks in Kandahar city, both in terms of continuing to provide protection, security and freedom of movement for those members of the international community that need to move around the battle-space to help drive the situation forward, and also to a few different dramatis personae, we have had journalists from the BBC, ITV, The Sun, The Evening Standard et al. We have also had members of the US Treasury Department, and Department of Defence who have been meeting with Afghan Government officials in what appears to have been a very productive and promising set of engagements. Speaking to the American contingent during and afterwards, I am always struck by their optimistic and can-do attitude and their willingness to solve or overcome/overwhelm any problem that they encounter. As Evelyn Waugh said; ‘instead of this absurd division into sexes, they ought to class people as static and dynamic.’ The Americans, regardless of the wisdom of stereotype, fall into the latter class, and this, very definitely is, a good thing.
This weekend in Kabul there was the Inauguration of the New Commander ISAF, Gen David Petraeus. A man of whom there is enormous confidence in. I noticed whilst in Baghdad a couple of summers ago that he is an inspirational man and the following he had amongst the Americans there was borderline fanatical. I think that in this age of apathy and gutter-celebrity it is refreshing that there can be someone who is professional, motivated, and fiercely intelligent held as an idol, as opposed to a lacklustre footballer, or third-rate actor whom continually fails to deliver, yet seldom fails to be worshipped, and never fails to be over-remunerated.
Elsewhere it has been a saddening time for our regiment, the Royal Dragoon Guards, as two Troopers have lost their lives in fairly quick succession. It is the inescapable reality that whilst engaged in a counter-insurgency that lives will be lost, but no amount of trite phrasing from me will make it any easier for family and loved-ones of those departed. Their ultimate sacrifices will not be in vain, and I am sure that the loss will strengthen the resolve of comrades in order to complete the task in hand. Quis Separabit.