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Dispatches from Afghanistan

May 22, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jake Klonoski, the usual author of this column, is now back safety from Afghanistan and his wife, Katie Potter, is here offering her perspectives in time for Memorial Day.

April 10, 2014

During the rainy spring in Kabul it is painfully simple to turn eyes skyward and, ignoring the all-seeing aerostat balloon, to imagine being home. Though the wet weather forced Kabul’s children to reel in the famous kites that compete with the military blimps for the sky, it exposed another city wonder. 

March 13, 2014

January 30, 2014

At the beginning of this series, I planned a final column for May with the revelation that in all my work with Afghanistan, my proudest service has not been in uniform but as a civilian, working with the American University in Afghanistan (AUAF). The message was to be something like “No one hates war more than those who have lived it. As this war ends for the U.S. military, we can all seek ways to assist a country that remains so badly in need of peace, in the interest of Afghans as well as our own.” 

December 26, 2013

As you drive north from Herat towards the dusty town of Towrahgundi, a smuggler’s den on the border with Turkmenistan, you take a trip through Afghan history. On the other side of three inches of bulletproof glass, centuries pass.

November 21, 2013

Today, Nov. 21, thousands of elected officials, community leaders and respected elders from around Afghanistan will gather at Kabul Polytechnic University, braving IEDs that already targeted the gathering, to discuss and debate the U.S.-Afghan relationship beyond 2014. Five hundred miles away in Herat, U.S. forces wait to find out if our current tours will mark the last of this 13-year mission or if we keep our Roshan phone contact list up-to-date for the replacements coming behind us.

October 17, 2013

The U.S. entered the 13th year of conflict in Afghanistan Oct. 7, and the effort here sits on a knife’s edge. A week ago, the U.N. Security Council authorized the final extension of the international security mandate, which is now set to expire at the end of 2014. Ongoing deliberations between U.S. and Afghan governments will determine the future of our anti-terrorism efforts and training missions here after 2014. Coalition partners await the outcome of the U.S.-Afghan agreement to decide their own commitments. Negotiations with the Taliban continue in fits and starts. And on Oct.

September 26, 2013

Few dates generate as much apprehension among coalition forces in Afghanistan as Sept. 11. Twelve years after the searing trauma from which the international mandate in Afghanistan emerged, the approaching anniversary still sharpens one’s focus on potential threats — which feel more imminent than normal: a dust trail approaching from the horizon, a discoloration on the road surface, a motorbike speeding through traffic, a sideways glance and a hand in a pocket.