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Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

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Panjway-US-forces-8547cc1000Cemetery in Panjwai: al Qaeda does not like flags on graves.

Panjway-US-forces-8549cc1000There are more cemeteries here than I have seen anywhere else in Afghanistan. Locals say that many of the graves hold dead Taliban.

Panjway-US-forces-8550cc1000Afghans keep cemeteries away from their villages to avoid being cursed at night by the dead. (Sounds like stories I heard growing up in America.) An Afghan friend said that 12 years ago, a woman in Nimruz Province buried her husband inside her home so that she could touch his soul. This spooked other Afghans, just as it would many Americans.

Panjway-US-forces-8589cc1000Derelict cemetery in Panjwai: Coalition forces killed off many people here.

Panjway-US-forces-8594cc1000Panjwai is the birthplace of the Taliban (1994). Kids born that year are today reaching fighting age.

The imaginary Nazar was born about 3 years after the Taliban was founded in Panjwai. He was 4 when the Twin Towers fell.

His home is near the Arghandab River, flowing down from the Arghandab Valley, and near the great fighting that has occurred for hundreds of years.  Sometimes after the fighting, he has seen bodies floating through Panjwai and down into the Dasht-i-Margo (Desert of Death).

Panjway-US-forces-8488cc1000KAF is ten minutes away by helicopter.

On KAF there is 24-hour electricity, hot showers, pizza, ice cream, coffee joints, a French bakery, and a T.G.I. Friday’s with steaks, non-alcoholic beer, and fancy desserts.  It houses possibly the only T.G.I. Friday’s ever to be hit by a missile.  The warhead ripped a hole through the roof, but it did not explode. (Back left corner by the road.)

From T.G.I. Friday’s, you can see the helicopters with the Red Crosses taking off and landing, fetching our dead and wounded.

Panjway-US-forces-8607cc1000This spot is 10 minutes from T.G.I. Friday’s.

There is WiFi on KAF.  And a writer.

Between 2011 and March 2012, a senior Noncommissioned Officer (a “Master Sergeant” or MSG) in the US Army has been tweeting, blogging and bragging about his heroism and his breakdowns from PTSD.

The Master Sergeant briefly experienced combat in Iraq almost a decade ago. He received a Bronze Star for “actions” the same day that Jessica Lynch got hers in a different incident.  (Jessica admitted that her award was fraudulent, for which she earned respect). The writer has been bragging about his decoration for years, and about his combat prowess based on his practically non-existent war experience, as a non-combat soldier.

Before going to Afghanistan in 2011, he alerted the press that he was available for interviews. The writer-soldier never stepped off KAF. He is just a guy stuffed into a uniform.

Master Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

While Nazar labors in the fields and sleeps under the stars, the nearby Master Sergeant works, dines, showers, and blogs in air-conditioned or heated buildings, possibly munching a chocolate chip cookie while sipping a frappe, as he pecks away with greasy fingers about these terrible deployment hardships. (It can get mighty hot between the air-conditioned buildings.)

The senior soldier, leading by example, writes about the frightening rockets that sometimes land within a mile. He cannot sleep at night. He advertises his fears from deep inside the giant base, ten or twenty miles from the fighting that he never will see. America’s Twitter Hero broadcasts to the world, and to the Taliban:

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The Taliban uses Twitter, and they monitor feeds from our troops:

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Meanwhile, outside the wire, Afghan boys and men shoot rockets and frighten the American Master Sergeant whose fingers must twitch on the keyboard.

Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham is an intelligence NCO.  The Taliban, those who live in Kandahar City, Kabul, and in Pakistan, have competent intelligence specialists who read blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  Grisham publicizes his meltdown:

“Today, I listened to the advice of more than a few people and finally went to the TMC and Combat Stress hospital. My right hand hasn’t stopped twitching after nearly a month and it’s beyond irritating. I’m not sleeping, not eating, and highly irritable. I’ve been under a lot of stress and feel like many of those above me are just making things worse. So, for three hours today, I sat and got to revisit many issues related to my PTSD, depression, and anxiety as well as some new ones.”

The Taliban must be laughing at America’s public display of weakness and stupidity. There is no better way to describe one of our intelligence soldiers drawing so many family and friends out into the public, as they tweet along with him, all while encouraging the Taliban to keep on shooting rockets.  Stupid is as stupid does.

Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham (next stop Sergeant Major) has become a de facto representative of the US Army. The Army permits him to promote his agendas while wearing a uniform purchased by American taxpayers. He uses his rank, his uniform, and the Army in his many public writings.  He may be free to speak, but he is not free to invoke his employer without permission. That the Pentagon allows him to speak while using its name makes him a de facto spokesman. Grisham speaks on behalf of the US Army and its intelligence community, whether we like it or not.

The Taliban must be belly laughing while watching our intelligence people crumble:

“Faizullah!  Have you seen this?  Our rockets have frightened the Crusader who reports that his hand is shaking! The rockets are working. Give them more!  Show this to Essa and beg to double our supply of rockets!  May Allah grant this American a long life to continue to report his fears in Kandahar.”

Unfortunately for the Taliban, the soldier was sent home with mysterious problems.  Grisham tweeted:

“I’m no longer in theater. I requested to come home early to deal with some issues.”

(That tweet disappeared: Grisham frequently removes posts that backfire.)

The Taliban must be disappointed. He was the best damned soldier that the Taliban ever saw.

image045January 2012: Grisham at Sick Call at KAF making his case to be sent home. He was sent home in March 2012 in time for a Godsmack concert.

Grisham tweeted:

“I love my wife. She got me tickets to the @Godsmack and @Staind concert for when I return from Afghanistan in Belton, TX!!””

Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham abandoned his subordinates, “his Joes,” for Godsmack.  Now that he is home, he is tweeting about his “battle experiences,” and using “PTSD” as a pretext to raise money in Texas, even while his young subordinates are still at KAF.

Combat troops who have watched wounded buddies languish on landing zones while waiting for late helicopters, can thank Grisham, who tweeted about contacting Congressman Todd Akin, to make sure that the Red Crosses stay on.

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Grisham has a lot of time to attack people and to chase down MEDEVAC Red Cross issues. He so damages the military media war that it is enough to wonder if he is taking instructions directly from Mullah Omar.  Master Sergeant Grisham reports that Congressman Todd Akin pulled back:

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Since that time, Congressman Akin, who had led the charge on MEDEVAC, has gone silent: Infantry Soldiers who have fought in Afghanistan might want to ask Grisham face-to-face, why he is ready to leave them to die.

Grisham has invested great energy attacking his commanders (who are too weak to confront him), gays (saying they are unfit for battle), the media (who will expose his actions), and President Obama.

The Army does not stop Grisham from dressing up in his uniform, posting photographs of himself, and bashing President Obama:

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Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham, United States Army, abandoned his subordinates, and his unit. While talking smack, Grisham quit.

The Taliban consists of harder folk.

Nazar stays in the war. This spring, he is back in the fields.  He watches artillery and airstrikes, GMLR rocket strikes, Predators launching Hellfire missiles night and day, Apache helicopters firing missiles and cannons, A-10 Warthogs and F-18 Hornets rolling in for strafing runs, or dropping bombs.

He has watched massive IEDs explode, killing Americans and allied forces, and he has helped place the bombs. He celebrated when the helicopters with the Red Crosses came.

He has been shot at, dozens of times.  At night, he sees orange illumination flares floating down, and he glimpses black helicopters thundering through the darkness. The Canadians had Leopard tanks in Panjwai, and they fired their big guns.

Nazar has seen a lot.  Back in 2006, the fighting had dragged on and left NATO frustrated.  NATO decided to “clean up” the area.

Panjway-US-forces-8544cc1000Small Mosque

When Nazar was about 9, the first large Battle for Panjwai unfolded (Operation Zahara), and then there was another (Operation Medusa). The fighting was intense.  During this timeframe of 2006, I published twelve dispatches that the Afghan war was being lost, but I soon headed back to Iraq, and I missed this Panjwai fighting.

During Operation Medusa, ground troops swarmed in. Jets, helicopters and artillery were hitting targets. On 3 and 4 September 2006, strafing runs and bombs had been striking day and night when the pilot of an American A-10 Warthog accidentally shot up Canadian Soldiers in Panjwai.  No doubt the Taliban celebrated that.

Screen1-1000Bottom of map is “Desert of Death.” KAF is on right. Zangabad, area of the crime, is lower left.

 

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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