VIDEO: Kids & U.S. Soldiers in Shahr-e Safa, Afghanistan

As I’m editing the hours of footage I shot in Afghanistan with the Minnesota National Guard for the documentary “Bridging War & Hope” I am finding a lot of ‘throw away clips’.  These are clips that don’t do much, they’re shaky, there’s no sequence, the wind destroyed the audio, I never settle on a shot and just drift in and out.  At first glance this clip was a throw away.  After a second-look I realized this one-minute of video is pretty tense.  It shows what Soldiers can encounter on a patrol.  Jumping out of a vehicle; readying your weapon, getting your barrings, seeing what’s out there.  All the while they’re taking in information and making decisions.

Kids.  The kids are out there, they’re everywhere.  It takes a few minutes for them to move in.  A lot of the stills of kids I’ve shared on this blog didn’t tell the story this short clip does.  Yes, the kids are cute and seeing them tugs at your heart strings, but having the kids around doesn’t make the job of the ADT’s security detail from the Mississippi National Guard any easier.  The kids are distracting.  The kids are asking for pens and chocolate.  The kids use homemade sling shots to shoot rocks at the Soldiers.  The kids ask for watches.  The kids need a lot.  The Soldiers cannot accommodate.  Ultimately and unfortunately, the kids are in danger.

This particular patrol ended well.  The mission was a success.  While the ADT’s security force kept watch outside the walls of the Shahr-e Safa Girls’ School CPT Carlson, SGT Peterson, LT Fischer and SGT Hunter were building a sun shade for the Girls’ School’s kitchen garden.  A garden that will help the girls learn, at an early age, how to take care of vegetables in order to provide for their future families.  Maybe one of the girls will take a lesson learned and use it to help feed a future generation of Afghans.  Maybe.