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The Enemy

09/10/10 7:55AM By Larry Doane
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Report From Afghanistan

Captain Larry Doane makes last minute coordination with US and Polish forces before conducting clearing operations in Andar, Afghanistan."
(Host) This week, as part of VPR's series, "Report From Afghanistan," we've been bringing you an audio journal recorded by Larry Doane, who commands a Vermont National Guard unit. 

Today, in the final entry, Larry Doane describes a meeting with a captured insurgent.

(Doane)  It's a strange feeling to see the face of your enemy.  This isn't my first war but it still unnerves me a little to look into the eyes of my foe. 

The troopers in my unit have taken captives following an attack.  Now I find myself eye to eye with someone who would be just as happy to see me dead as alive.  But it's not what you might imagine.  He isn't the black turbaned Taliban of our country's collective imagination.  Instead, I'm looking at a rather unassuming man with a neat beard and slight of stature. 

With his hands bound on the side of the road he seems harmless.  I can hardly imagine him planting a bomb in the road, much less orchestrating an attack against one of my armored platoons.  But that's what he did and now that choice has made him my prisoner.

There's no hint of malice in his face, no stream of threats or curses flowing from his lips.  Instead a mute silence is all he offers.  He is calm, resigned to his fate.  Perhaps it is his interpretation of In'shallah. 

Many Afghans believe that if God wills it there is no point in struggling against the events of one's life.  And while the concept of In'shallah is interpreted by my prisoner one way, it holds another meaning for many of the Afghan security forces that fight alongside of me.  Instead, they fight with a ferocity and abandon I've never seen before. 

The Afghans who fight with us are in many ways as unassuming as the man we've taken prisoner.  But unlike my enemy these faces are open to me.  I see their desire for friendship as plainly as the dark shocks of hair on their head.   And, In'shallah, when I leave this place, perhaps these faces of friendship will be the only ones I carry home.    

(Host)  VPR commentator and Vermont National Guard Captain Larry Doane.  You can find all of Larry Doane's audio journal entries at our website:  VPR dot net. Click on "Report From Afghanistan."

Our series continues Saturday when we hear from VPR's Steve Zind, who's in Afghanistan for three weeks to cover the Vermont Guard.


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