Our New War... Part 6
edited: Friday, January 14, 2005
By Hanley (Doc) Harding
Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001
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Our war is getting through, but not our help...
OUR NEW WAR... PART 6
Some (more) food for thought for the American public
Copyright 2001 by Hanley "Doc" Harding
(Active U.S. Navy, 1965-1970, Nuclear Security Specialist, Certified Police Instructor)
In this, my sixth letter, I want to talk more about the recovery efforts in Afghanistan, as a follow-on to what was discussed in Part 5.
During my past involvement with some of our country's most unusual and advanced weapons systems development programs, I was privy to seeing some pretty amazing technology in action. And I am not surprised at the capabilities of the weapons systems being reported by the news media these days. What I AM surprised at, and somewhat angered about, is the LACK of technology in delivering desperately-needed aid to a great many unfortunate people in Afghanistan who are all-but-beyond hope. I am referring to those wonderful, humanitarian stockpiles of food which I see pictures of, every day, on my TV.
Those stockpiles, neatly and impressively built up at strategically-located centers around the Afghani countryside, are largely good for nothing... wasted money, time and effort. Why...? Because a major part of all that food is NOT being delivered to so many hungry people who so desperately need it. And why is that...? Because the principal means available for distribution is by truck. Hey, people... trucks need reasonably well-maintained roads, without land mines, without roving bands of marauders springing surprise attacks, without defeated factions of the Taliban lying in wait to attack and plunder, without blown bridges, without mountain passes blocked by tons of rubble, without tunnels partially collapsed by years of warfare... do you get the picture...? An Afghani national interstate highway system does NOT exist. And the local truck drivers are too damned terrified to drive over what roadways do exist. So innocent people will continue to starve to death all across that poor damned land while food continues to be airlifted in by the U.S.
The only technology which is readily available and able to surmount the problem is our air power. Now, what we're used to is the rolling of thousand-pound (or heavier) parachute-deployed pallets off the ramps of cargo planes, but such large "units" are easy looting for local warlords and bandits. For cryin' out loud, how much technology does it take to put a tiny little parachute on a food packet, or a medium-sized 'chute on a seventy-pound bag of wheat?! Then we could fly over those truck-inaccessible populated areas and mass-air-drop "manna from heaven." Nothing would light up the eyes and hearts of starving people like individual meals floating down from the sky. And the natural scattering of an overwhelming number of meals and bags of raw foodstuffs all over a community would ensure that no local despots could easily seize control of the supply of food... a frenzied mass of hungry individuals would be able to collect, scurry-off-with and hide at least several days worth of food before any local warlords could possibly gather it all up and keep it for themselves.
Hey, people... if I'm the ONLY one to whom this idea makes any sense, then let me know and I'll just stick to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. But I think that neat stacks of tons of undelivered food, right smack in the middle of rampant starvation, is a picture that is MORE than shameful... it is INTOLERABLE and UNFORGIVABLE. It certainly can't help the image of the United States. You know... IMAGE... that thing we Americans too often seem to be too much more concerned with than action...?
Oh... and tents... don't forget to air-drop LOTS of tents, and blankets, and those nifty little solid-tab-fuel heaters. Too many displaced Afghanis are living out in the open, with no protection whatsoever, in a bitterly cold winter.
In closing, I will simply repeat what I said in Part 5: We've screwed up so many times over the years... it's time we made a good-faith effort to "do the right thing." This time... let's get it right. More people around the world will respect us... and less will want to harm us.
All the best to you and yours...
"RECOVER... REAFFIRM... RETALIATE"
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|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by Lori Moore
|Great article... if only it were that easy. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the "ego BS" of local Afghan (and other Muslim) leaders....