Well, we have our youngest patient yet. I don't think they get much younger. This little boy's mother was shot in the abdomen. We saved the mom and delivered the baby, who suffered a minor wound from the bullet. Mom and baby are doing fine, and my staff is enjoying caring for a newborn baby.
I don't know why anyone would think we are losing this war. From my foxhole, it looks like we are winning the war in Afghanistan. I know that's not what the news reports, but I have found that there is a disconnect between what the news reports and the reality I see on the ground in Afghanistan.
We treat so many Afghan civilian patients, and every time I talk to them they thank me for being here, they thank me for taking care of them, they thank me for "rescuing" their country from the Taliban and the terrorists.
We treat so many Afghan Soldiers, and every time I talk to them, even after they have suffered serious wounds, they ask me when they can get back to their fellow Soldiers and when they can go back to fight the terrorist who have taken over their country. They are proud to serve their country and fight alongside US Soldiers against the Taliban and the terrorists.
We treat too many US Soldiers, and I have never talked to one wounded Soldier in my hospital who did not ask when he could get back in the fight. No matter how seriously wounded they were, they always asked about their fellow Soldiers and wanted to know how they were doing and when they could get back to them, back to the fight. I now know that those stories from the movies, about wounded Soldiers leaving the hospital to rejoin their units before the next big offensive are not just fiction, but true stories about real heroes who would rather die than abandon their brothers and sisters in arms.
I've seen too many killed in action, but with every one, US or Afghan, I've watched his friends and fellow Soldiers say goodbye, then pick up their gear and go right back out to continue the fight. Afghan and US Soldiers, fighting together, feel a sense of duty to the fallen to continue the fight, to win the fight, and honor the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters in arms.
And because of what we are doing, schools are open all over Afghanistan. On a recent trip we stopped at a District Center, right next to a primary school. There weren't many cars in sight, but as you can see there were lots of bicycles and motorbikes.
I asked where all the kids came from, because we were far from the town, and I was told that children come from miles around, just like a country school in the US. It was hot, and there was no air conditioning, so many classes had moved outside for the afternoon, in the shade of the trees. I remember doing the same thing in elementary school, on hot days in Texas.
I asked who built the school, and I was greeted with thumbs up and smiles as they said "America built this school!" Little boys and little girls sat side-by-side, reading and laughing and playing just like kids anywhere in the world.
Closer to my FOB, a school was recently burned to the ground. When I asked my Afghan friends who burned the school they said, "The Taliban burned the school." They did this because it was a place where little girls could sit side-by-side with little boys and learn to read.
Friends of mine in another unit replaced that burned out school the next day with tents and school supplies, and the kids came back the next day. Despite the danger of another attack, they came back to learn to read, and to laugh and play, just like kids anywhere in the world.
A friend of mine in Iraq, Tom Harrison, once wrote an email entitled, "Iraqis are from Mars; Americans are from Venus", detailing the differences in cultures and how it complicated our ability to accomplish the mission in Iraq. The generals in Iraq are only now beginning to understand and act on the insights Tom had in 2004.
The same problems exist here; We will never fully understand our Afghan hosts. But in Afghanistan we've got true partners in the Afghan Security Forces and in many of the Afghan people. We will never remake Afghanistan into Arizona, but we can help make it into a better, safer, more peaceful Afghanistan. The generals here get it, and they are doing what it takes to win.
We are winning the war in Afghanistan, with great sacrifice and at great cost to US and Afghan and Coalition Soldiers. I get tired of this job, and I get tired of being away from home and I get tired of war, but then I think of those who have sacrificed so much more than I have, and then I'm not tired anymore. I just hope America doesn't get tired.