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Soldier: Troop morale remains high

In spite of some negative national media coverage, one localsoldier said the troops in his unit couldn’t be prouder to servetheir country during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Scott Tynes, a DAILY LEADER staff writer from Lawrence County,was activated in October 2007 with the 102d/382d Mobile PublicAffairs Detachment. Discussing events while home on leave for 15days, Tynes said things in Kabul, Afghanistan, are runningsmoothly.

“I don’t know where they’re talking about morale being down,” hesaid. “Everybody’s doing our jobs, and we’re just proud to behelping.”

Tynes said the base his unit is stationed on is one of thelargest in the area, and most of the Afghanis he has come intocontact with are supportive of the American effort.

“They all like us, and they’ll give us the thumbs up or shakeour hands and tell us they’re glad we’re there,” he said. “I thinkthat helps with the morale as well.”

Also adding to the feeling of pride and accomplishment amongAmerican troops, Tynes said, is the idea that the people of thearea are beginning to work together as they see what freedom canreally mean.

“Seeing a country come together for the first time … now we’restarting to see these tribes realize that there’s more than what’sinside their villages, and they’re trying to work together for thegreater good,” he said.

And what little anti-American sentiment Tynes has been aware ofhas been from some small villages where some people are still loyalto the Taliban.

“Our people on patrol have come across areas where the villagershave to harbor the Taliban or risk being kidnapped or killed,” hesaid. “If they’re not cooperative with us, it’s because it’s theonly way they know to keep their business or their familysafe.”

Meanwhile, soldiers overseas are not quite as far away as theyhave been in past wars, in theory.

Tynes said Internet access allows him to talk to his wife Terialmost nightly, as well as to play games and read the DAILY LEADERonline. In addition, it’s a valuable part of making the time go byfaster.

“We’re on call 24 hours a day, of course, and our work days areabout nine hours long, though a lot of days it’s a lot longer thanthat,” Tynes said. “They do a good job of keeping us busy.”

American soldiers are also keenly aware of the election going onback home, Tynes said, and he said there are plenty of people onboth the Obama and McCain sides of the fence.

“I voted while I was home,” he said. “But if you’re overseas,the military has a form for you to fill out and you mail it to thecircuit clerk in your county and they send you an absenteeballot.”

As a member of the media himself, Tynes said it has beeninteresting to watch the residents of the area, which waspreviously only allowed very little exposure to media that was notgovernment-run, begin to find their way into the idea of freedom ofthe press.

“Television stations were banned under the Taliban,” Tynes said.”It’s been neat to see all these little newspapers and other mediaspringing up. They really try to do a good job and get the truthout, and they’re learning.”

Meanwhile, Tynes said the visit home has been a happy one. Buthe looks forward to being home for the duration.

“It’s good to be here, but I won’t get to see everyone I’d liketo, and I hate that,” said Tynes, who was not able to say how muchlonger he would be in Afghanistan after returning. “I’ll just seeyou when I return for good.”