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Whose name do you know in Afghanistan? The story of an Afghan hero I met

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jonathan D. Simmons
  • Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs
Before I came to Afghanistan I knew only what they said on TV about it, and I knew the names of only several notable insurgent leaders and trouble makers, but I didn't know the names of any good, regular people.

Like many of you, I knew the names of Osama bin Laden, and Mohammed Omar, but since I've set foot in Kapisa, I've seen firsthand some of the trouble they've made, but I've also met one of the good guys.

After one of our Afghan Local Police pay day activities, I met Qand Agha, chief of the Kapisa province's first local police unit. I expected him to come to me with hands out with a list of needs and requests as locals generally do here, but instead what I heard was a story of courage and sacrifice.

You see, Qand, at 28 (or so)-years-old, continues to lead a band of brothers defending his small village in Afghanistan's smallest province against Taliban domination, and he does it all with just one leg.

Qand lost his leg last December in a firefight with the Taliban near his village of Landakhel in the hotly contested key terrain district of Tagab in the eastern province of Kapisa.

He told me about the day he lost his left leg, giving details as if it had happened yesterday. He remembered heavy gunfire, explosions and casualties all around him. He remembered being on the edge of death and the "brave" coalition soldier who did not leave his side until the medical evacuation helicopter was able to fly him to safety.

With tears in his eyes, Qand recounted this battle and showed me some of the scars it and other battles had left him with. These scars also told a story. In Qand's voice I heard both fear and courage mingled together. And in his tears I saw something that I did not expect -- something elusive that, if nurtured, might make a better Afghanistan. I hope that the country's leaders can find more men like Qand and partner with them to keep Afghanistan out of the grip of terrorists.

According to reports from his village, Qand and his band of brothers have already started this work and the local populace has begun to embrace "the concept of a village without insurgents."

Before being the first in the province to step forward for the risky work as a local policeman, Qand was a motorcycle mechanic in a nearby bazaar. Now, Qand's men call him "our brother," they know his voice, and they follow him into danger in order to make their community a safer place.

They call their team "Sar-Tom-Bah," in Pashto. The word commonly means stubborn, but when they say it they mean they are afraid of no one, and they are will never back down in a fight.

I was very privileged to talk with Qand, to hear his story, accomplishments, and his troubles. Small in stature, Qand is passionate about his work of opposing the Taliban, and protecting his family and neighbors. And he is passionate about surviving.

You see, because before I came here I didn't know the names of any good, regular people in Afghanistan, but after I met Qand Agha -- now I do.

When speaking of Afghan police some call them corrupt. Some call them thugs, but I know at least one Afghan policeman who has sacrificed greatly for his country close to home.