Michael Yon, a modern day Ernie Pyle, reports from Afghanistan that he has been receiving complaints about a negligent lack of support for US operators by the Spanish military at a Forward Operating Base. Those writing to him include an officer of the 82nd Airborne. CENTCOM is likely not making much of the story to keep the peace, but should deal with the issue swiftly to end this reckless endangerment.
Qal E Naw: The Spanish are not interested in helping in anyway, and are trying to make us decide to leave based on their unacceptable treatment of Americans. Our refuelers [soldiers who refuel helicopters] that are living there have to run out, unroll the hoses, pull security, and roll everything back up. They have asked for gravel along the FLS as it is currently calf deep mud, but the Spanish refuse to make any improvements. They asked for a T barrier (just one) to put at a 45 degree angle outside the fence where the FARP [Forward Arming and Refueling Point; where helicopters land for ammo and gas] has to be set up so they can run for cover in case there is small arms fire, the Spanish say no and refuse to make any improvements. They asked for a small gate where their billets are located so they can access the FARP directly rather than going a half mile loop to get out the gate, but the Spanish said no and refuse to make any improvements. They [sic] guys are living hard (we understand that) but have to do laundry by hand as all of their stuff is stolen if they turn it into the laundry, they discussed this with the Spanish, but they refuse to many any improvements.Call it “Everyday meetings with Common Europeans”, if you wish, but it illustrates what happens quite often when a small-minded character is made an official, and is given a little bit of power over others.
USFOR-A needs to energize someone to develop a viable, enduring plan for this FARP that isn’t reliant on the Spanish. This is a key hub for fuel (since we can’t get trucks to [xxx] or [xxx]) so let’s improve this location to better support those guys living out there on the edge by themselves. They refused to allow a Marine detachment that was dropped there to come into the wire or feed them overnight. Our refuelers had to fight the Spanish to bring them in and squeeze them into the two small tents that they have and give them MREs as they [sic] Spanish wouldn’t feed them. Is this how we allow our Coalition partners to treat Americans?The Spanish government, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
The irony is that Zapatero’s obsession with looking statesmanlike by finding as many photo-ops as possible with the US president is impossible under these circumstances. It nearly mirrors Erich Honecker’s obsession with the idea of constructing legitimacy and recognition for East Germany with the fantasy that he would find himself visiting the Oval Office for tough negotiations with Reagan. In both cases, the goal is self-aggrandizement on absurdly undeserved grounds.
At least in the case of Honecker, the Soviets were speaking for him to an extent, and there were reasons to talk to them. The Spaniards, on the other hand are trying to look like they are speaking for the EU, and trying to get above the din of the other Europeans in the auction pit, even though there really isn’t anything to talk about with the EU in the state they’re in.
We arrived during a TIC [fighting] and a MEDEVAC mission. The aircraft have to land/park in a field that has no gravel and then they sink into the ground. They have to be moved everyday to pull them back out of the mud. If we can’t get gravel, how about putting some AM2 matting, stakes and a couple of Red Horse guys on a CH-47 and fly them in to build a couple of pads just big enough to park an individual UH-60 on? We’ve been pushing the gravel issues since last fall and are no closer to a solution. Those guys are living in fighting positions. When it begins to warm up in the next month, that field will be untenableYon summarizes:
So, our soldiers and Marines, living in rough conditions at the far tip of the spear, apparently are being treated with contempt, with all basic support denied, from laundry to the conditions of the field on which our troops do their thankless job. If this report is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, the Spanish are endangering the lives of our warriors by failing to provide basic safety.They were sent out to the tip of the spear, and the Spanish offer you a butter knife. They cannot be there to merely “appear involved” for some selfish purposes and endanger the success of something that they hope will legitimate their leadership potential.
They need to go away before they get somebody killed.
U.S. Air Force Nurse, Lucy Lehker, comforts a Canadian soldier.