Breaking Bread

The other day the contingent of interpreters that work on the PRT invited us to have chai with them. Chai is green tea with a huge amount of sugar in it. Me, both of my S6 guys, the MP Advisory Team (MPAT), and a visiting military journalist jumped at the chance just to hang out with the interpreters because the chai is pretty good here.

They were just finishing up dinner when we showed up. They invited us to eat but we had just had dinner at the Dining Facility (DFAC). We haven't had any fresh green things in quite a while. I instantly zeroed in on the huge pile of FRESH green onions and regretted turning down their offer. Needless to say, we had a great time that night. I got to watch afghan satellite TV and they were graciously telling me what the news people were broadcasting and we also watched a cricket game being played in Pakistan.

Afterwards, I said to no one in particular that we need to have dinner with these guys before we are redeployed or re-assigned. One of the MPAT's said why not, we can even pay for it. The next day we asked one of the interpreters that if it would be OK if we all had dinner next week. He said of course and then we told him that we insist on paying. We told him what we wanted, we gave him the cash, and his mom fixed it up.

It was a GREAT dinner. We had flat bread (nan), chicken, mutton, an afghan version of pico de gallo (tomatoes, red onions, etc), garbanzo beans, rice, fresh yoghurt with cucumbers in it, and FRESH GREEN ONIONS! I tore the hell out of the green onions, I think I ate about a third of what they had. One of the interpreters tried to hand me some utensils but I refused. I wanted to eat the Afghan way (roll some meat in the rice using your hands and using the nan to scoop up the food) and all the interpreters thought that was pretty cool. Afterwards we had chai and watched satellite TV.

We all have developed a close working relationship with the interpreters here and it was great that we had dinner with them. One of the interpreters survived an IED blast last year and he gets around on crutches (the medical team here is trying to repair the damage to his feet). The others have worked for either the SF community or the PRT for a long time. These guys are working for us at great risk to themselves and their families. It was pretty evident where their loyalties are when we watched a cricket game on TV. I can't remember the other team but everyone was booing and hissing Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the major reasons Afghanistan is having such a tough time right now.

I really respect these guys and it is tough saying good bye. When you go on a patrol and you see these guys working the radio (to talk with the ANA attached to us) or working with the Civil Affairs folks speaking with the locals, you get the sense that they believe in the mission as much as we do.

A few posts ago I wrote about why we need to see the mission to success in Afghanistan. For me, it's more personal. I want them to succeed becuase I have worked with these people, I got to know them and their personal stories, and most importantly (to me anyway), I have broke bread with them.

CPT NightHawk


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