Hagar called me from his office the other day, because he was looking at the det plot (detachment plan to send folk into Afghanistan) and he was doing some logistical planning.
“Basically, I have got two options. I can either go for the whole summer, or Christmas and New Year” he said.
The summer is the fighting season. The insurgents (which fall loosely under the term Taliban are not all necessarily students of the cause. It’s just an easy grouping to create the commonality of the enemy) are actually guns for hire that work seasonally. In the summer they fight the ISAF forces, and in the winter they work in the poppy fields, harvesting the crop. I used to work seasonally. I worked on the beaches of Med in the summer, and the slopes of the Alps in the winter. I worked for tour operators and would have to field banal guest questions such as;
“If I have porridge for breakfast, will I still be hungry at lunch time?”
“Will I be warm enough if I wear this jumper on top of the mountain?”
But the most regularly asked question was in the summer season;
“If you do this is in the summer, what do you do in the winter?”
In the end we used to make up answers to mix it up a bit.
“Oh, I am an Arctic seal clubber.” I would reply.
Obviously, this is a very different type of seasonal work to your average Taliban insurgent. Now, today, this summer is the fighting season, so while we enjoy our summer holidays; somewhere, in what feels likes another galaxy, the ISAF forces are battling to create stabilisation in a wholly unstable environment. ISAF forces are out in theatre, warring against the insurgents, as they fight hard for another big push in Hell-manned. The philosophy is clear, hold, build. Clear the ground of enemy, hold the ground, build a school, or hospital, maybe mend a big f*ck off dam (Kajaki). To governments and military leaders attrition is expected. The news of more death will trickle through daily. They know in advance the loss of life is inevitable this summer. Maybe the people slurping their ice creams don’t realise this as they shake their head and mourn with sadness as another casualty falls. It’s the game of Risk (I am a demon Risk player by the way. I rarely lose. My blog so therefore I am happy to brag about my Risk skills and reveal my board game geek-ness. I love games!!!!) but instead the stakes are higher and it’s someone’s son, or daughter, father or husband, wife or mother not an inanimate plastic figurine.
Decisions, decisions. For me, war aside for a minute. Summer holidays means road trip for the whole summer and Christmas is such a family affair that I would rather he was with me, so I would choose the summer. But then, if you factor the war in then I would choose the winter because I would rather he was in the Afghanistan in the off season. Decisions, decisions.
In the end I said, “hun, I don’t mind. We’ll work around you.”