20 August 2009 -
This dispatch has been dictated by satellite phone due to communications difficulties. My satellite gear has failed on election day. I do not know how well the elections turned out in other parts of Afghanistan. Here in North Helmand Provence, near Sangin, I am told that less than 300 people voted. In this area the day was marked by serious fighting. Apache attack helicopters were firing their cannons throughout the day. The howitzers fired many times. The mortars were firing. Various bases were attacked. On the mission I accompanied the snipers were firing. We got into a firefight, and the soldier beside me had his antenna shot off. I would not characterize this as a failure of the elections, it was a local setback. We saw the same in Iraq in early 2005, where some people boycotted the elections. The situation here is not good, but this is only one area of Afghanistan. I do not know what happened elsewhere.