SHSU professor returns from Afghanistan

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Military science professor Captain Lohmann returned to SHSU in mid-August after being involved in the war against terrorism and working for six months in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Lohmann was located in Maza-e-Sharif where he worked with 20 other Americans supporting a Jordanian humanitarian relief hospital. Through an e-mail interview, Lohmann spoke of his experiences and opinions of the war against terrorism. He described his surroundings in Maza-e-Sharif as “beautiful and immense” with snow still on the mountains in March. Soon after he arrived the weather became extremely hot, with temperatures often reaching 130 degrees.While stationed, Lohmann and others operated an airport that served as the logistical hub for northern Afghanistan. His worked with local contractors on construction projects and he was responsible for administrative duties while monitoring supplies.Lohmann worked with locals daily. He spoke about Americans being greatly appreciated and respected in northern Afghanistan. “There were some times when the tensions were higher than others, most of it simple posturing,” Lohmann said. He said while he never had to shoot anyone, he did have to raise his weapons once or twice. Before leaving for Afghanistan, Lohmann felt the terrorists couldn’t be reformed or dealt with rationally when it came to the campaign against terrorism. “I thought they hated us because of our beliefs; that they had very intense emotions and were completely dedicated,” Lohmann said.His opinion is even more resolute now after seeing how the locals were and recognizing the appreciation they have for America. “They hate the terrorists as much or more than we do,” Lohmann said. “They had to live under their rule for years and they continue to suffer intimidation.”Lohmann said the terrorists had no idea what they were up against. The United States is far more advanced in technology and the training and motivation of U.S. soldiers can be lethal. “Some of our enemies have a serious misunderstanding of our culture and radically underestimated the U.S. citizen’s resolve and our military’s capabilities,” Lohmann said. While Lohmann was in Afghanistan, little fighting occurred other than squabbles among the local warlords. There are three main factions of Afghans in the area, organized by ethnicity, and each faction is led by a warlord. The warlords worked hard to get their power and are hesitant to give it up. “The warlords operate much like the mafia and it complicates the mission of everything else,” Lohmann said.The U.S. pays the local warlords for “protection” according to Lohmann. He said there were times they didn’t see eye to eye and suddenly something would pose a threat. At one point counter threats were made but the warlords along with all Afghans understood firepower and backed down quickly. Lohmann had little free time while stationed in Afghanistan. “We were very restricted in what we could do and there was very little free time,” Lohmann said. “It wore us down after a while but for the most part we didn’t mind working all the time because there was nothing else to do.” When he did have time to himself, he usually read or slept. Towards the end of his time there he was able to shop in town and drive through the mountains. While in Afghanistan Lohmann had access to a satellite phone and could call home every Thursday if he finished work during phone hours. The time difference made it difficult to call and the mail service wasn’t very timely. Lohmann said his family has transitioned easily since his return and is grateful he no longer has to spend months away from home.Lohmann spoke in depth about the media coverage of the war. For the most part he feels what is reported has been accurate and somewhat timely. He also said the media reports what will sell papers. “Sometimes I feel it’s almost like they want our soldiers to get killed so they will have a story. Nobody writes about how much they appreciate our freeing the people from oppression and ending 23 years of fighting,” Lohmann said. Americans don’t tend to hear about the positive interaction that happens daily.Lohmann was amazed about the support the U.S. troops received while in Afghanistan. Every time mail arrived, there were countless packages from family, friends and community members. “We received several packages from the SHSU ROTC program, Dr. Pruitt’s history classes, the Conroe VFW and several other organizations in Southwest Texas. There was such an abundance of supplies, the camp was able to share things with some of the humanitarian organizations that did not receive as much support.All in all, Lohmann feels the war has been a worthy effort. “Not just for our country but for Afghanistan and the whole region,” he said. “I know it’s clich but we all take freedom for granted. Visit one of these other countries and see the fear and intimidation the people have been living with for years and you will see how good we have it. Freedom isn’t free.”