Last night, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to Camp Eggers, along with key staff at Equal Access Afghanistan. Our hosts, Lt. Col. Tim Kirk and Capt. Felisa Dyrud, USAF, have taken an interest in EAA’s mobile theater group. They want to enlist the group’s help in their efforts to train the Afghan National Police by mounting weekly productions for a large crowd of police. So a group of us made the drive over to Camp Eggers, named after Special Forces Captain Daniel Eggers, who was killed by a landmine in Kandahar in 2004. Over a surprisingly good dinner I got to speak with Tim for a while about the program, and despite my discomfort around most military people he won me over. His intelligence and kindness impressed me, and we both agree that people need to commit more time to their missions here if they want to see a change in Afghanistan. He hopes he can stay here for a few years (both he and Felisa are fluent in Dari and are working on their Pashto, too). I wish I had been able to speak with Felisa more, but I am sure she is just as impressive.
I also had the pleasure of speaking with their First Sergeant, the logistics man behind the operation and someone whose life rights Hollywood should start bidding over. His name is Harold, and given his work as an undercover police officer in New York I don’t want to write too much personal information about him, but it was great to pick a soldier’s brain about the situation here. One tip I learned: always bring candy to the bazaar; kids will swarm on you and it helps to throw candy at them and run.
On the way out of the camp, feeling a bit ill from the ribs, corn, ice cream, beans, etc. that I scarfed down in the “Goat Locker”, as the mess hall is dubbed, I passed by a contingent of Americans who all had the high and tight military haircut, which Harold informed me they no longer needed to wear; these are the guys who like looking like soldiers and live the warrior’s code. I thought of how brave my Afghan colleagues must be to enter the tall Hesco walls of the Camp and sit down with people who bring guns to the table and may have shot at their countrymen before. It’s good to know that there are some smart cookies out there, but I’ve already seen too many reminders that they are an exception.