Airmen face special challenges delivering school supplies

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Skinkle
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Providing school supplies to local school children doesn't ordinarily involve an armed security detail, vehicle convoy, and four months of planning, but this is Afghanistan where even stepping 200 yards outside Kandahar Airfield requires an armed over watch.

Operation School Supplies recently delivered a large cargo box full of more than 140 back packs to a local Afghan school house in southern Afghanistan.

The AFOSI special agent, who we will call "K" to protect his identity, is the project lead at Kandahar Airfield. He and his AFOSI team stay busy, but K, who actively donates time and resources stateside, wanted to help out the local area and he even recruited his families help.

"My family jumped at the opportunity to help me provide assistance to a school for more than 140 boys and girls," K said.

K's family networked with other relatives, neighbors, and church members to gather enough supplies for several elementary classes. The back packs contained the normal back to school items like notebooks, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, rulers, markers, and crayons and even teacher's supplies like calculators, protractors, chalk and construction paper.

The Afghan schoolmaster inspired K to lead the campaign to gather the school's necessities.

"I respect the elder's courage and strength to focus on the children that are Afghanistan's future," K said.

On a smaller scale, K included his family on this project, uniting them with a common cause during his deployment.

"This was a great way for my family to feel involved in something larger than them and to concentrate on something other than the temporary loss of a loved one due to a deployment," K said.

K says that each mission is prepared with the same level of care, and this humanitarian effort was no different. The mission required extensive planning, especially when executing the actual mission because special attention was paid to security since the cargo drop was outside the team's normal area of operations.

"Every time the team leaves the compound there is a high expectation of risk . . . from insurgent attacks to the less obvious risks like vehicle accidents, vehicle malfunctions and route closures," K said.

K states that not only was he blessed with full support from his leadership but he also had help from many of his fellow Detachment members with assembling the back packs, packing them, and executing the mission.

"My security team members were crucial in providing the support needed to make this mission a success," K said.

If providing school supplies to even a small section of Afghanistan's youth means they might not be indoctrinated by extremist propaganda, then every bit of effort, time, and money spent is a reflection of the good Afghans and Americans can accomplish by working together. The school itself, and the cooperative efforts behind the humanitarian mission, may be indicators of the strides Afghans may continue to make, even after Coalition Forces withdraw in the upcoming years.

"This humanitarian mission inspires confidence in Afghanistan's future, because of regular villagers, like the elder, who are willing to stand up to the Taliban and take care of their people," a senior EDET leader said.