War on Terrorism

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Guardmember connects Iowa Cub Scouts, Afghan police officer

By Air Force Senior Airman Amber Ashcraft
Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team

PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (2/4/11) – Through social media, military members overseas easily keep in touch with family and friends back home.

But it is rare that video teleconferencing is used for American children to interview an Afghan National Police officer.

"When I was deployed in 2003, we didn't even have Internet access," said Army Master Sgt. Todd Eipperle, senior noncommissioned officer in charge of Task Force Red Bulls Embedded Training Team in Panjshir. "Being able to have a meeting like this, face-to-face, makes the experience even better."

The meeting took place Jan. 22 with Cub Scout Pack 182 from Ankeny, Iowa.

The Scouts took turns asking Capt. Sefat Mire, Rokha District ANP training officer, about his life in Afghanistan. They wanted to know what it is like for Mire to be a police officer, what the best part of his job is and if he is able to go home to his family every night.

"Some days, we are very busy and travel, so I come home very late," answered Mire, through an interpreter. "But I enjoy being a police officer."

Eipperle, an Iowa Guardsman and part of the Iowa Cub Scouts, helped set up the session by sending an e-mail to some of the packs back home asking if they would like to talk with an ANP member.

"There is a 'Language and Culture' award Scouts can get," Eipperle said. "Pack 182 responded they would like to get that award and participate in the meeting."

After speaking with the pack's leader, Army Lt. Col. Sean Ogelsby, Eipperle found an ANP member to talk with the Scouts.

"Captain Mire was outspoken in our train-the-trainers course and was easy to talk to," Eipperle said. "Having four boys of his own at home, he was excited to participate."

For more than a half-hour, the Scouts, Mire and Eipperle exchanged questions and answers through an interpreter about life as Scouts in the U.S. and as ANP in Afghanistan.

"It was good to be able to speak to the Cub Scouts," said Mire. "When the PRT goes on missions here and talks to our children, our children come home and tell their fathers about the good experience they had with the Americans.

"Afghan children are like American children; we want them to look up to us and have good experiences."

After teaching the Cub Scouts how to say "thank you" and "goodbye" – "tashakor" and "huda hafez" – they ended their teleconference.

"When I thanked Captain Mire for doing this for our boys, he simply replied, 'It's something I will remember forever'," Eipperle said.

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