Afghan interpreter and U.S. Marine working at route clearance
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Ahmad Shakib says he knows he is risking his life to work for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but with a casual shrug and an idiomatic American twang, he laughs off the danger.
“Afraid of the Taliban? No, I’m the man,” said Shakib, 22, one of thousands of Afghans recruited to work with U.S. and NATO forces as interpreters, or “terps.”
Terps have been killed alongside U.S. and NATO colleagues on operations, and others have been targeted by militants who accuse them of collaborating with foreign forces.
The U.S. government offers military interpreters the prospect of an immigrant’s visa to the United States after two years. Shakib says that’s what tempts some. But he’d do it anyway. “I like this job. I like helping the people, helping the Americans. The way they do their job, I just love it,” he said…
His job means he can no longer go back to Kandahar, the southern city that was the birthplace of the Taliban in the 1990s, where he went to school and his brother still lives.
“(A relative) could say ‘oh by the way, my cousin is an interpreter, he’s working with the Americans’. So they (the Taliban) will be like let’s go and pop him,” Shakib said, using U.S. slang for an assassination…
Captain Christopher Garvin, who trains the Afghan army in Farah, a desert province on the Iranian border, says he relies on his terps for more than just the language.
“Coming here the first challenge was to fully understand the culture and how they like to operate,” said Garvin. “Having a good interpreter is the key.”
RTFA. The military has always come up with field expedients like this to compensate for lousy preparedness and all the other political crap that surrounds imperial hubris.
Fortunately, good officers learn early on about smart solutions. If they’re going to survive in the field.