A French Soldier’s View of US Soldiers in Afghanistan

A French Soldier’s View of US Soldiers in Afghanistan, by Wes O’Donnell.

What follows is an account from a French ISAF soldier that was stationed with American Warfighters in Afghanistan sometime in the past 6 years. …

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins, and creatine- they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them – we are wimps, even the strongest of us – and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange as it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seems to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall, they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. …

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short. Honor, motherland – everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels.

The myth of the Euro-weenie isn’t a myth.