Flight Home & Scary Questions
I am sitting in the Emirates Business Class Lounge on the way home. I’ve had a day and night in Dubai to get my head straight and de-pressurise before I head back the ‘the world’ and, now that I’m out, I’m assailed with mixed thoughts. On one hand I can’t wait to get home, but on the other I already miss my lads and worry about how they’re doing. I’m worried that something will crack off while I’m away and that I’ll miss it.
I worry that my team need me and that I’m not there to help – which is ridiculous because, firstly, no-one is indispensible and, secondly, they are all big boys many of whom have a lot more experience than I do. Still, I can’t shake the feeling of selfishness; that’s I’m somehow greedily drinking in the luxuries of a world outside Afghan while they are all still stuck there. Unfounded, I know, and pointless but I still can’t help feeling it.
Significantly, I’ve begun thinking about why I’m there and whether the whole thing is worth it. Is there any point in my being there? Do we make a difference and is Afghanistan worth it all? Frankly, right now, I answer ‘no’ to all of the above. I just can’t see the point. The country is a basket case – always has been and always will be. It seems to me the government does not have popular support, and Karzai spends more time criticising the West and ’reaching out’ to the Taliban than he does prosecuting the war. Warlords run the country and pose as significant a risk to overall stability, and to the security of my convoys, compound and men, as the Taliban. Everyone knows what will happen to this place when the west pulls out – at best, continued fighting as warlords and their factions vie for power and, at worst, all-out civil war. I’m no expert but I simply cannot imagine a scenario that includes a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
It just seems to me, right now, that it’s all a gigantic waste of time, money and lives.
For me, it all distils down to a single thing: I do my job for my men, not for any lofty ideals – lofty and unattainable ideals are for the grey men of the UN and have no place on the ground where the harsh light of reality shines. I’m there simply to see that my lads’ daily lives are liveable, their jobs are tolerable and that they all get home safely to their families at the end of their contracts. That brings me back to feeling like I’m somehow letting them down by being out here…. Bugger that! I’m heading home to everything that is real, important and precious in my life: L and our two children.
I’ll be signing off for a while. Check back at the beginning of July. Until then, wherever you are, stay safe.