Friday, 8 May 2009

Of Bosnians and the US Army

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.


Kat said...

Prayers for his safe return.

Amel said...

Em, thank you for your kind wishes. My leave is in September and as I told to Dave today you will be at the top of my "people to visit" list. I will miss the boys so much and I am kind of sorry for Ivana when they get her with all the questions where am I...

Love you guys

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Amel! I didn't know you read this blog. Hope you haven't found too many glaring errors in what I have written about Bosnia.

We will miss you, especially the boys, and we promise to take good care of Ivana when you are away. We look forward to seeing you in Sept.

Do take good care of yourself. I'm so sad we won't see you before we go.

KindaSassy said...

the blessings and dangers of having skills a foreign country at war needs... like you, I do wonder how many casualties are not recorded officially. I will hope for your freinds safe return