Unexpected news today from the home (ie Bosnian) front. Dave called to say that a great friend of ours is off to Afghanistan to work for the US Army. He leaves on Saturday so we won't get a chance to say good bye before he goes. We will all miss him, especially the boys, who loved the fact that he never got tired of throwing them up into the air.
For all it is unexpected, it is by no means unusual to find the Bosnians (particularly the Bosnian Muslims and those around Tuzla) working for the American army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Army was in Bosnia for a good 10 years after the Bosnian war and many Bosnians earned a healthy wage working for them. This is especially true around Tuzla. The Americans operated out of an enormous base near Tuzla known as Eagle Base which is most famous for being where Hillary Clinton didn't get shot at in 1996 but is also where you could get issued with US Army camouflage prayer mats (I'm not joking, we have two). When the Americans left, many highly qualified English speaking Bosnians were left without work.
With wars on two further fronts opening up, the Americans began to hire the Bosnians to work in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. For the Bosnians it is dangerous work but they are well paid for it. For the Americans, well a cynic might say that Bosnian casualties wouldn't show up on an American casualty list. Plus the Bosnians are used to the Americans, how they operate and have learnt to speak good English. Anyhow, lots of people went. In Lukovac, a town of some 40,000 down the road from Tuzla, they estimate that 1 in 4 households has sent someone to Iraq. My mind can't fully get around that statistic. Bosnia aren't at war in Iraq.
In the meantime, we just wish Amel luck, courage and look forward to seeing him safely back home in Tuzla in 6 months time. May he stay safe.