My sense is that for most people, the war in Afghanistan is distant and irrelevant. Except for family and close friends of men and women in uniform who are there serving their country, their daily lives go untouched. And so they rarely give a second thought to why the U.S. and its allies remain entrenched in Afghanistan nearly six years after 9/11.
I have an extraordinary opportunity to travel there to see firsthand what's going on. I leave today, May 4 -- digital camera and digital recorder in hand -- and will return at the end of next week.
My itinerary includes talks with civilian and military leaders representing the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan. I will observe the training of indigenous security forces, offensive air operations, and drug eradication efforts in the most fertile opium growing region in the world.
This will be my first visit to the country, long a sanctuary for bin Laden and his lieutenants. My trip originally was to have included time in Iraq, but security and strong family objections derailed that segment. Iraq dominates the headlines. That's where the greatest carnage is taking place in the fight against terrorism. While IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are not the threat in Afghanistan that they are in Iraq, they are perhaps my biggest concern on a personal level.
I intend to file from the field if connectivity and my schedule permit. Otherwise, I plan to return to this blog site when I return home. I also expect to develop feature articles for Aviation Week.
--Tony Velocci, editor-in-chief, Aviation Week & Space Technology.