My Last Tour: Dari Spreadsheets

An Afghan National Army 7-ton truck, one of many being tracked by SMSgt. Temple'
An Afghan National Army 7-ton truck, one of many being tracked by SMSgt. Temple's spreadsheet program.
TAMPA (2010-2-2) -

This week, Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple focused on accountability when mentoring his Afghan National Army counterparts. Temple worked on a computer keyboard with both English and Dari characters setting up a spreadsheet to help the Afghans keep track of their vehicles.

One of Temple’s challenges was filling out the spreadsheet because English reads from left to right and Dari reads from right to left.

But there were other challenges as well, like overcoming a mindset that developed among Afghans during the Soviet occupation.

“Under the Soviet system they hoarded things because there were a lot of shortages,” Temple said. “So if you were given an item whether you used it or had a need for it, you hung on to it.”

Instead of transferring unused vehicles and weapons to other Afghan army companies with shortages, they are keeping the equipment and forcing other Afghan units to do without.

Temple is used to a system where resources are shared and sent where they’re needed. “But explain that to them, it’s like well no they were given that vehicle, it belongs to them.”

He added that Afghan officers are enthused about the computer tracking system but only when the computers work. If they have problems opening files, Temple said, they just ignore the problem and rely on coalition mentors like him to fix it.

WUSF is following Temple during his year-long deployment. You can see photos and read about his first nine months in Afghanistan on Temple’s blog, Afghanistan My Last Tour.

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