The Story of Rob: The Afghan Every American Should Fight For
By Kerry Patton
This is a story where names are fictitious yet the individual is very real. Specific events lack full details yet the events written about are even more mind boggling for the select few in the know.
This is a piece written in hopes the American people become outraged in how we as a nation betray some of the most heroic of heroes willing to risk life and limb for our citizens and warfighters. It is also a story that very few will even accept as factual. And for those in the know, it is a story in which I expect some serious blowback. But for my brothers who actually know the truth and live with the rage inside, I hope it is a temporary sigh of relief knowing the word is getting out.
If you are an American who has followed significant wartime events in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, you are likely familiar with key persons whom went above and beyond in assisting our warfighters. The Iraqi interpreter (Terp) who worked closely with our US Navy SEALs code named Johnny Walker is just one whom most Americans might know about. Mohammad Gulab, the Afghan local who saved the life of US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell is another popular name among local heroes. Then, there is a man who will hereby be referred to as Rob.
Rob is an Afghan, his specific ethnicity be it Pashtun, Tajiki, Hazara, Nuristani, etc . shall remain undisclosed for his own personal safety. He is fluent in written and spoken Pashtun, Dari, and English to include American slang, an ideal candidate to serve alongside our warfighters as a “Terp.” Interestingly, Rob’s legacy does not come from any work as a paid “interpreter.”
Make no mistake about it; Rob did his share of interpretations but he did much more than just interpret words. Rob’s work in Afghanistan may have made him the greatest local in-country asset for several American entities such as private and government institutions which includes but is not limited to the Department of Defense, the US Intelligence Community, Non-Government Organizations, and even major media outlets.
Rob was an asset. This is said in the truest definition founded within the Intelligence Community. In laymen’s terms, he conducted a service of gathering intelligence for the United States. And, without question, Rob could be considered the greatest asset found inside Afghanistan.
Few would ever be capable understanding how far and deep Rob was willing to go with his tasks. Be it gathering intelligence on High Valued Targets, garnering positive identification on key US persons held captive, or even disclosing forecasted terrorist operations. Rob was Afghanistan’s version of a modern day James Bond and thankfully, he worked for our team.
During the 2008 through 2011 timeline, US Drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan increased dramatically. Afghan drone strikes went in this order according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: 130, 196, 206, 238. In Pakistan for the same years, the numbers increased as follow: 38, 55, 128, and 75. Of course, this increase of strikes is owed to the multiple US intelligence systems at play. With that said and without question, during this time frame, the US Intelligence system had one key asset who begun work in 2008 and that was Rob. Yes, there is an inference here that Rob assisted in the increase of drone strikes due to his remarkable human intelligence operation.
Rob was not just a collector for targeting operations. Rob created a local human intelligence network with his handlers that expanded operations in 2009 when Bowe Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his post and into the hands of our enemies. With so much never revealed and kept far away from the public domain, hopefully one day, America will learn the full truths about Bowe Bergdahl and the entire fiasco surrounding his case which includes controversial military and congressional testimony and hearings. But here, it shall be noted that Bowe Bergdahl was positively identified (PID) on a minimum of four separate occasions including his specific whereabouts prior to his release. The PID came from, you guessed it, Rob and his network.
Bowe Bergdahl was not alone. Several foreign persons held captive in Afghanistan had a guardian angel looking over them. The few who had are now free living their everyday lives. For at least one, an American who at the time worked for an incredibly large and powerful organization, that guardian angel was Rob. The Afghan hero was capable in maintaining positive identification and location on the American and formulated a plan of action that would later be executed successfully. Interestingly, that American who is free today still does not know any true detail of his “escape.”
Of note to any reader out there who knows journalists captured in Afghanistan: Please feel free to pass this on to said persons. I hope it will finally assist in filling the mental gaps for at least one who certainly must live with every day questions on how the hell he is alive today.
Imagine being a local national willing to risk life and limb for the United States and its people. Imagine serving in unofficial capacities saving lives of your foreign ally all the while taking lives of your local enemy. No awards, no fame or fortune, nothing coming to you but utter betrayal by the very government you assisted.
We all know of interpreters stuck in places like Iraq or Afghanistan never granted the visas promised to them. But Rob was not an interpreter. He was an asset whom contributed to the lethal targeting of High Valued Targets, tracking the whereabouts of Bowe Bergdahl, ensuring the freedom of an American held captive through a clandestine activity, and so much more. Sadly, no one within the Intelligence Community other than a very small handful even knows who Rob is. They just know him by the alpha numeric identifier given to him. That’s right, to our government, Rob was just a letter and number…no face, no personal information, no nothing but an identifier connected to certain intelligence reports.
What have we become of a nation making promises to so many yet turning our backs on others so quickly? Who are we to allow amnesty and social benefits to our southern neighbors who never once assisted in fighting alongside us in this war on terror but instead assisted in promoting the war on narco terrorism? All the while, we refuse to step up and assist our brothers and sisters of foreign who were there for us, risking life and limb.
Today, I am saddened to learn my friend Rob had his visa application turned down, again, by the powers out of the United States Embassy in Kabul. This wasn’t his first denied application. In fact, I will not reveal exactly how many denials he has had to date. I will reveal however that he was told, “Never come back here again.”
Not a day goes by where I wonder whether today will be the day I learn of Rob’s death. I wonder how I will handle such news. And yet I pray. I pray I will never have to hear such news and instead learn he is on a plane coming to the nation that once promised him a new life full of freedom. I pray we come through with our promises, for Rob’s sake.