What Armies are For

When you learn new information, it’s expected that you’ll change the way you think to accommodate it—even if it’s only a very little.  Well, I’ve been reading about some of the humanitarian efforts by Americans in Afghanistan (I recently read Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea), and someone asked me how that’s changed my way of thinking.  My answer was that it’s changed my perspective. Not that I now see things from someone else’s perspective, or have had some kind of eye-opening epiphany, but that with the experience of others added to my own, it seems pretty clear to me that when it comes to what Americans should be doing in Afghanistan, the number one thing is improving access to education.

Bill Stratton, Army Corps of Engineers,is teaching construction techniques to Afghans as they work on The Center of Excellence, a school for boys 5 through 15 years old. (Photo courtesy of Soldiers Media Center)

This means doing things like building the infrastructure to get people to school, and the schools themselves. But it also means that someone needs to contribute the little things that people need—including pens and paper.  But in order to do this, there needs to be a person on there on the ground that can deliver what someone like me (an American with no plans to travel to a war torn country on the edge of civilization) wants to give.  That’s where someone like SMSgt Rex Temple, and the other service men and women involved in his project come in. While deployed to Afghanistan those few troops have taken it upon themselves to distribute the supplies that we send. Without them, our effort could never reach completion, and that’s not even why they’re there.

Thinking that thought was the moment that I realized that if giving the people who are young kids now a fighting chance at decent education should be our number one priority, and we have countless troops in the country, why are they hunting terrorists and insurgents? It would take years and years to hunt down every insurgent in that country, especially if they can easily recruit from the poor uneducated populations of Afghanistan.  So, why not make the primary goal of United States a humanitarian mission—an educational mission.

School children asking for pens during a medical mission. (Photo by SMSgt Temple)

Based solely on the first hand testament of men like SMSgt Temple (take a look for yourself), each time that a young boy or girl receives the tools that they need in order to improve their lot in life a blow is struck against violent terrorist groups and violent religious sects that can rarely be equaled by any application of military force. I just think that if we have an army of men and women in Afghanistan they ought to be tasked with doing what really needs to be done—what is going to really change a country from a breeding ground for ignorance to one where people have a decent chance at working towards their own betterment.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Awareness campaigns, Three Cups of Tea, University of South Florida, US Army and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s