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American Troops in Afghanistan Through the Eyes of a French Infantryman

The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA. In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts. Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don’t seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.

Here is the original French article, and here is my translation :

“We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the ennemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.


Click to view image: 'French soldier'

Added: Jan-17-2009 Occurred On: Jan-17-2009
By: marinemom
In:
Middle East
Tags: afghanistan, france, soldiers,
Location: Kabol, Kabol, Afghanistan (load item map)
Views: 7413 | Comments: 56 | Votes: 15 | Favorites: 4 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • It's funny how Iranian military lovers all like to talk about how great Persia was A LONG time ago but then they forget that France at one had the greatest land army in the world. That it was the French that helped defeat Corwallis in the America's revolution, and it was the French that held the left flank during the largest tank battle in Gulf War I, also who is talking badly about the ability of the French to command and train troops when they have a group of all foreigners that are some of th More..

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Honestly very touching and awe inspiring. I also have little doubt that American soldiers would have similar kind words for many foreign regiments.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • As an American with a rich French heritage it only confirms my believe that soldiers among us are truly the noble and hardest working of our societies. They are protectors, doctors, builders, simple yet work out the most complex of situations, they are truly great figures who endure that which most could not and some make a priority to devalue.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • God bless the French. Thank you for fighting alongside us. We respect your courage and your strength.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Great allies.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Good read. The French get a bad rap, especially as far as Afghanistan goes.

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • good post

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Excellent Post!!

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • In the end during hard times no matter what.... goodness, values, righteousness and Freedom prevail. Nothing more. This is why the United States is the most loved country by our allies and most hated by our enemies.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • original source

    http://omlt3-kdk3.over-blog.com/article-22935665.html


    google translation of introduction page

    http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fomlt3-kdk3.over-blog.com%2Farticle-22935665.html&sl=fr&tl=en

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • there is nothing wrong with the French Miltary,their Politians suck but I like Sarcozy so I will give him a chance,when my eldest was in Helmand US fast air saved him and his mates on more than one occasion,we are in this together against the most vile enemy we have faced since Hitler,we must not falter,I hope Obama is as good as his word and gets the job done in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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    • I imagine your one of the few brits I wont hear running his mouth about friendly fire casualties :) You need to get your countrymen in line though.

      Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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    • dont be fooled by what you see in the MSM about my fellow Countrymen and women,just like I dont believe that all Americans are like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,we are both currently ill served by our Masters,it will not always be so

      Posted Jan-19-2009 By 

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  • Yall guys have been fighting for freedom against terrorism for years now, you deserve our most thanksfull respects. Now I wish we could pay you back for your sacrifices. Fighting along your side is the least we can do, and even this is a pride.

    May god bless you all.

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • HOOAH!
    gotta love the brits..aussies...and the french ofcourse!..dont worry canada ..youre in here too!

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • Very cool post :)

    He was speaking of the 101st...

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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    • The link to this article was given to me by another LLer named KantiKotal. I should have given the credit at the top of the article. My bad.

      Yes, it sure sounds like he's talking about the 101st.

      Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Great read. Thanks.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Great read MM. Excellent and uplifting. Having lived in Europe for 8 years and knowing them as I do,speaking many of thier languages, I believe this article 100%.

    I'm glad this young French Soldier wrote this. I will keep it handy for the trolls amongst us here on liveleak. Some of them seemed to have already showed up, commenting here as always... All of them as usual forgot to flush when they left.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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    • A LLer named KantiKotal gave me the link. This is one of the most uplifting things I've seen in a long time.

      As I read his description of American soldiers, I was going "yup", "yup", "wow, he nailed it".

      LOL - I hope that French soldier gets to hang out with some U.S. Marines out there and then writes another article. (my bias showing.....)

      Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • great post, great sentiment.

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • The word "promiscuity" was crossed out by the writer/translator.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • great article, bout time

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • Great post. Sometimes it is good to be reminded that America still commands respect after the bush years. I can't wait until America is loved again and I can travel and get the respect I used to get as an American abroad.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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    • A great read would be to click on the link to the article and then pull down to the comments - 191 of them! Read through about 20 of them, and you'll see.

      ;-)

      Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • wow...didnt expect pro america.... these days thats rare. and to the soldiers this man is writing about... thank you.

    Posted Jan-17-2009 By 

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  • Regular civilians wouldn't normally understand the stuff expressed in the commentary.

    THey are strong words and very positive.

    Most European military have nothing but great respect for the AMerican service man. I have learned this first-hand.

    I approve of them too.

    That is called NATO...OTAN!

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • sounds good is it real?

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • Awesome post. God bless every soldier that's fighting and risking all against the terrorist zealots.

    Come home safe!

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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  • America FUCK YEAH!

    Posted Jan-18-2009 By 

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