My Last Tour: $10 a day Taliban
|SMSgt. Rex Temple on his Afghan Election mission|
Unlike other regions of Afghanistan, Election Day was mostly uneventful for Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple and his teammates stationed in the east. Yet as the votes are counted, the Tampa airman worries how the reported "culture of corruption" will affect the outcome.
If one person exemplifies the 2009 Afghanistan election, for Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple it's an Afghan National Army soldier who was written about in an Afghan newspaper.
The ANA soldier was returning from voting in his provincial election, came upon a Taliban check point where they were stopping vehicles.
"He'd already voted so he had the purple indelible ink on his finger. And he knew that they would kill him," Temple says. "So he used his weapon and he killed two or three of the Taliban but in turn they killed him."
Temple mentors ANA soldiers. He did not know this soldier, but Temple's blog calls him a model soldier.
"In my eyes he's a hero too. I mean he braved Taliban threats, he succeeded in voting and when they set up their check point he engaged the enemy instead of running away," Temple says. "And it cost him his life."
Temple also has praise for how the Afghan news media is reporting on the election.
"It's a little bit different than what's being reported in the U.S. media," Temple says. "They talk more about the ballot stuffing, the fraud the irregularities is their focus."
Temple did admit that the allegations of voter fraud, while expected, can be disheartening.
"But one of the biggest problems and I haven't really discussed it with my blog or the interview is the amount of corruption that goes on here," Temple says. "Every day it's mentioned in the papers or it's generalized that the government is corrupt here. I've seen some of it with my own eyes."
It's a tough situation for Temple because when he's not deployed he is assigned to the Inspector General's office with the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base where he investigates fraud.
But, Temple is also a student of history and is fully aware that things are different in Afghanistan.
"That's kind of part of their culture. That's the way of doing business here. It costs you something to get something done here," Temple says. "However, the biggest thing they're looking for is security."
Temple says the Taliban promised the Afghans security and they delivered. However, they found the Taliban to be equally corrupt. Yet, many are dependent on the Taliban for their living.
"It's sad to say, but we call them $10 a day Talibans because that's what the Taliban pay them to plant an IED or to launch a rocket or to fight for them," Temple says.
He can't reveal where he and his U.S. teammates were located on Election Day in case there's a runoff. But they were camped away from the action and never called upon for help during the mission.
He said the Taliban was present and an IED was planted about five blocks away, but that most of Taliban's focus was to the south where more than 90 people were killed including the ANA soldier that Temple will always remember as the hero of Afghanistan's 2009 election.
You can read more about Temple on his blog: Afghanistan My Last Tour.
To hear his other stories and view photographs click on the link to our Special News Report.
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