Note that this article was first published in the New York Times and if you reproduce this article you must retain this notice.

There have been always a very good relationship between American and Afghan troops and also with other coalition forces. I have worked in the ANA central corps and I have interpreted and communicated between the ANA and the American forces. After the official or off time they play volleyball, soccer or sometimes the ANA invites their American advisors to their chow hall and to their offices for food and tea and their advisors also invite some of the ANA officers to their chow hall. Since I work as a night shift interpreter, I have also been invited in some of these meetings to interpret between both sides and they usually ask about each other's culture, traditions and holidays. A lot of ANA soldiers and officers know about Christmas holidays. There are a few that know about other holidays too. Sometimes American soldiers go to the ANA chow hall because they like Afghan bread and rice with meat sauce. And Afghan soldiers that have eaten in US military chow halls liked the hot wings stick and American sodas.

I also know about most holidays in America because during free time I talk with the soldiers and ask lots of questions about US culture and about life in America and they always gives me useful information. During the holiday season they talk about the holidays and they wish to be back home with their families, especially during Christmas. So far I know about these holidays like Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Independence Day. I heard that on Halloween people aren't off and mostly young people celebrate. American soldiers in Afghanistan also celebrate this day. In 2003, one day I went to the chow hall to eat dinner and I saw different kinds of scary-looking and funny-looking heads and 2 coffins with a skeleton on it which said "died in 1979" on it which was very interesting.

I have also told many soldiers about our holidays. We have more holidays than the US does. We have two major holidays called Eid and people are off for 6 days during these 2 Eids. We have new year holiday, independance day and we also have another holiday called the victory of Mujaheedin against Soviets and also have 2 other religious holidays. So we have more holidays in Afghanistan. These holidays are very important for me and other Afghans because we get a chance to meet our friends and relatives. During the Eid holidays people have to go to each other's house to congratulate the Eid and everyone, rich and poor, wear new and clean clothes. They decorate their houses and cook good food and have drinks like tea with fruit.

During my services for both Afghan and US troops I have been very effective, particularly in 2004 when General Dostum's forces created some problems for the ANA in the northern provinces and his soldiers came into fighting position. It was Friday and all central corps interpreters were off and I was the only interpreter in central corps, so the US base commander, who was a lieutenant colonel, came and picked me up and I interpreted between US commanders and the ANA corps commander. We discussed the situation and the situation was solved after the US Air force came to support ANA and aircraft flew over General Dostum's militia and they moved back and nothing serious happened. So I think it was one of my most effective services for both sides.

I have lots of memorable moments from my job that I can never forget. At the end of 2002 I got my job as an interpreter for the special forces and they were all very professional trainers and their mission was to train the presidential protective guard in different fields like physical training, driving, snipers, cat team and scout. I was working with the Driving and Physical Training team where I also learnt driving and a little bit of shooting too. During the 6 months training course we graduated more than 250 presidential guards. Their food, salaries and barracks were much better than the ANA soldiers. First when these young men came to join the program, most of them could only do 10, 20 or 25 pushups. But after 2 months they could easily do over 60 pushups in a minute. Also in shooting, the first days they were missing their targets and only a few bullets could hit, but at the end of the training days they could put most of their bullets in the black circle.

Now these candidates are very active guards of their president and when sometimes I walk along the palace I see them and they really respect me as a teacher. Even though I wasn't their teacher, only a translator, but they respect me like a teacher and it makes so glad now.

Our president Hamid Karzai used to have American bodyguards to protect him and those bodyguards trained our own Afghans to handle security for their president and now they are doing a great job as bodyguards of their president.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?