Don’t mention the war - it’s about the troops
It’s quite sad the questions people ask when they hear you’ve just been in Afghanistan performing comedy shows for our troops.
“Were you scared?”
“Did you get shot at?”
“Was it hot?”
“Did you get a chance to have a look around?”
Umm, yeah, sure. There’s an open top bus tour from Kandahar to Kabul. It’s called “15 warlords in 15 days”. David Hicks is the tour guide and the final night party is in Bagram Prison. It’s great - you can book it at Flight Centres.
What’s sad about these questions? None of them enquire as to the welfare of our troops, the job they are doing or the conditions in which they are doing it.
The most annoying thing people said was: “I didn’t know you supported the war”.
Just because I went to Afghanistan to do shows for our troops doesn’t mean I support the war. I support our troops. It is possible, as was largely the case in Iraq, to support the troops but not the war. If you have an issue with the war speak to the government. If you have an issue with the troops, I’m very curious to hear why.
I know it’s not a popular war. It’s taking a long time. The exit strategy is weak or ill defined. We are losing Australian diggers at an increasing rate.
What is the end game? Every few weeks it seems newspaper websites ask their readers: “Should we pull out of Afghanistan?”. The overwhelming response is nearly always “YES”.
I’d like these websites to also ask the question: “Do you support our troops?”. They are separate issues that are often treated as one.
Whatever your opinion of the war effort in Afghanistan our troops deserve your respect and need your support. This conflict is hosting Australian troops who are dedicated, committed, smart, brave and loyal to this country and a chain of command that sees them serving in a far off land.
When you travel to the front lines you look into the eyes of our men and women working 14 hours a day in the toughest of Middle Eastern conditions and you see that this war has a face. They work in the choking fine unbearable dust of Tarin Kowt, the freezing cold of Kabul and the utter madness of the often attacked 30,000 strong coalition base in Kandahar.
They do it for six months at a time without alcohol, in shared sleeping quarters, without any home comforts (think porta-loos) and with an enemy sleeping just over the hill. They also do it in uniform, they do it well and they do it without complaint.
Do you struggle spending two weeks away from your partner and your kids? Try six months.
No amount of hours on Skype will dry the lonely tear drops shed at Christmas. So these holidays spare a thought for the Australian men and women who are serving abroad and their wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends and children who spent Christmas without them.
And to save you asking, I wasn’t shot at, I wasn’t scared and it’s bloody freezing in Afghanistan this time of the year. The troops? They’re great, thanks for asking.
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