Understanding & Importance
Written by Nathan Gallahan   
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 10:31

KABUL | Day -4 - One of the greatest aspects of Web 2.0 and the reason I’m so excited about this project, is it’s conversational and interactive nature. I’ve been writing and shooting photos for the Air Force for more than six years and it’s been great, but I have always dreamed of being able to get honest and candid feedback on the stories I’m telling.

I’ve always believed that my ultimate bosses are the taxpayers, and they are who I’ve always kept in mind whenever I write a story or click the shutter. I’ve been honored with an opportunity, here and now, to work not only for Americans, but for 44 countries, which I must say is not only exciting but unnerving at the same time.

I know that I won’t be able to please everyone, and

many will disagree with what we’re trying to accomplish. Those viewpoints are not only important, but critical to Ken and my work. It’s through both the positive and negative feedback that will guide our path during this mission.

We received a few comments last night that struck a chord in me, and they have driven me to write a bit. My “muse” for writing is my emotion, and I’m a pretty emotional person.

The first is in regard to whether or not we understand Afghanistan. I’ll be honest; we don’t understand all of it. I’m certain that unless I dedicate my life to learning Afghanistan, I never will. But, I haven’t always felt that way.

When we were on mission in Eastern Afghanistan in December, I thought I learned all about this country, I thought I understood the mission and the complexities. Then we went to Western Afghanistan in January and I learned that it was completely different. A thought struck me, we all live in bubbles, and that’s important in the military. We all have our place, our mission and our focus. Someone can be a subject matter expert in one area, but they can’t be subject matter experts in all areas.  That’s why there is a chain of command, the farther up the chain you are, the bigger the picture you’re looking at becomes. At the same time, the farther up the chain you are, you become less of an expert on absolute specifics in any given area; A reliance is built not just from the bottom of the chain to the top but from the top down – because the level of understanding required to complete such a complex task as securing Afghanistan and bringing freedom to these people, is too big for any one human to contemplate. This requires the greatest minds from 44 nations to figure out, and that’s what we have here in the International Security Assistance Force.

So why is it important to understand this conflict from the ground? From the everyday service members instead of the highest ranking leaders? Because the human element of this conflict has been buried under sound bites. Because this conflict has been turned into headlines and half-sentences floating across the bottom of the nightly news.

The countries fighting here deserve more than that, and more importantly, the Afghans who have been crushed by the hands of war for more than 30 years deserve a lot more than that. This conflict isn’t about news feeds; it’s about all the Afghan people who live in extreme poverty, and the average service member from one of 44 countries here helping the Afghan government to secure their freedom so they can live happy lives.

Our 30 Days mission is more than headlines. Our mission is to experience the counter insurgency and talk about it. We want the forums to erupt in conversation so we can all learn together. I really hope to see professors, scholars, generals, dignitaries, everyday people and Afghans, visit the forums and help us learn. I’m going to do the best job I can to be as accurate as I possibly can, but I need those smarter than me to help. The next 30 Days should be a very interesting experience and the only thing I ask of you, is to participate.

Now that I’m standing on my soap box, I wanted take a moment and say that this mission is not “cool”. Nothing of war is “cool”. War, killing, fear, repression are only a few of the horrible things that happen here. But all of that bows to an enduring hope that resides within me; and if I can bring that feeling of hope to just one other person over the next 30 Days, then I am willing to place myself in any situation to do just that – because the Afghans and the world deserve no less.

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Nathan Gallahan said:

Thanks Ashley!
Glad you found the site and I hope you enjoy the content! It was an absolutely amazing journey I'll remember for the rest of my life.
May 26, 2011
Votes: +0

Ashley said:

It isn't every day that we hear someone say, "I’ve been writing and shooting photos for the Air Force for more than six years and it’s been great, but I have always dreamed of being able to get honest and candid feedback on the stories I’m telling." I think that your statement and desire is a true display of professionalism.
May 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Sophia said:

"I’ve been honored with an opportunity, here and now, to work not only for Americans, but for 44 countries, which I must say is not only exciting but unnerving at the same time." I can only imagine the amount of pressure that you are under. I think what you are doing is extremely commendable. Thank you for taking the time to do what you do and to keep everything in perspective.
December 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Michael Dean Gold said:

Host & Producer, roadtovictoryradio.com

This is exactly the kind of perspective missing in media. Send along a huge thanks from San Diego to all people involved. Web site is awesome. Finally we will be able to see and hear how our forces are doing the little things every single day to win this fight. I believe your efforts will show us how we can finally define victory in this war. Be safe - Michael Dean Gold

Michael Dean Gold
February 08, 2010
Votes: +1

Michael Moore said:

Ken and Nate: You were in the prayers of our congregation this morning. Because I am a MAJCOM staff weenie (AFSOC Deputy Command Chaplain), I don't work at the Chapel... but the folks at First Presbyterian Church in Milton, Florida now know about your mission and will be praying for you! Thanks for what you are doing... this is an awesome mission you are undertaking... the key to moving forward is to get to know the people of Afghanistan... may God be with you and your team as you travel!


Michael Moore
February 07, 2010
Votes: +1

Nathan Gallahan said:

Thanks Mom!!
Just so everyone knows, Clydene Blocker is my Mommy smilies/cheesy.gif Love you Mom! Wish us luck! 10 hours and counting!
February 07, 2010
Votes: +1

Clydene Blocker said:

Time is short, the countdown has begun. I cannot express how proud I am of both of you for the grand effort you are expending to accomplish a mission of knowledge and understanding of an other people and their way of life so you can spread the word and enlighten the nations and the world. Thank you for your self-less-ness and your inner drive. I pray for your safety and that your every shot is the one you most wanted at that moment, that the peoples are friendly and informative andyour mission successful. Go under God's cloak of protection.
February 07, 2010
Votes: +2

Nathan Gallahan said:

Thanks Boris!
Thanks for stopping by Boris! I'll definately jot your email down and send some words and photos over to you. This project is definately international and we're going to see a lot of German's when we make it to Regional Command North. If there is anyway you could translate a few of the pieces we do, it would be greatly appreciated!

I really wish we had translators from all of the 44 countries here, but unfortunately we don't. Take care! ~Nate
February 07, 2010
Votes: +1

Boris Barschow said:

Hi there Nathan,

thanks for looking in here again (afghanistanblog.wordpress.com). Maybe we are working on the same issue…to bring the people more closer to the mission in afghanistan. This is the aim of this blog. To show different perspectives alongside to the media. Would be nice to email me from time to time some posts and pics from your tour ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), i can translate your articles. I was working for CJPOTF in HQ ISAF Kabul in 2007 and 2008, Editor in Chief Sada-e Azadi. I am a reservist and in civil life i am a journalist. I wrote a book about my mission in Afghanistan “Kabul, ich komme wieder” (“Kabul, i´ll be back”). If you need a german comrade for a next project give me a note…;-) Your project is overdue. More and more people in germany are looking for new and other informations about our international mission in Afghanistan. Especially the german perspective is embossed from political disorientation. Take care…

February 07, 2010
Votes: +3

Anna Nym said:

I got pointed here by the German Afghanistanblog http://afghanistanblog.wordpress.com/. God knows that in my country currently everybody is talking about Afghanistan, but there is not much tangible info about what is going on "on the ground", be it with any of the ISAF troops or the Afghans themselves... I have made Afghanistan my "reading topic" for 2010, and try to learn more about the history, the culture and the current conflict, so looking forward to your reports!
February 06, 2010
Votes: +2
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