Thirteen countries in five years for TischerThe word “Afghanistan” is very three-dimensional. Beneath its 11 letters lie years of turmoil and timeworn feuds littered with interspersed prosperity. Surrounding its 11 letters lie misconceptions and prejudices. On top of its 11 letters sits the Karzai administration, precariously. And within its 11 letters lies Tyler Tischer’s story.
By: Leah Stinson, Echopress Intern, Alexandria Echo Press
The word “Afghanistan” is very three-dimensional.
Beneath its 11 letters lie years of turmoil and timeworn feuds littered with interspersed prosperity. Surrounding its 11 letters lie misconceptions and prejudices. On top of its 11 letters sits the Karzai administration, precariously. And within its 11 letters lies Tyler Tischer’s story.
Alexandria resident Tyler Tischer spent his first five years after graduating from Jefferson High School in the Marine Corps.
These five years brought Tischer to a total of 13 different countries ranging from Spain to Israel to Afghanistan. It also gave him insights into the Taliban, an infamous political party in the Middle East. It is a far-right Islamist party; it holds fast to very traditional and conservative Islamic values.
Part of the Taliban ideology is oppression of women. Women are not to be educated, employed or in sports. Women are also supposed to adopt an obsequious manner toward their male “superiors.”
The Taliban works to eliminate modern indulgences, ranging from cinematography to pool tables to alcohol, all of which are lawful in Afghanistan.
What’s more, the Taliban strives to achieve its goals via terrorism.
The Taliban ruled large portions of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when the Northern Alliance, which includes the U.S., invaded Afghanistan with the intention of removing the Taliban regime.
Hamid Karzai is the current president of Afghanistan. The Karzai administration, which is a democratic organization, was installed in December of 2001, after the Taliban regime was “removed.”
This brutal force has not been eliminated, however.
Due to the Taliban’s ongoing presence, military personnel like Tischer are reluctant to trust locals. Tischer described most locals as “fence-riders.” They claim to be on the side of the U.S., but will also be loyal to Taliban forces.
“You never know with them,” said Tischer. “It’s hard to even think about.”
What makes the Taliban so unpredictable is its enigmatic populace. When asked if there were any members of the Taliban who didn’t use force as a way of getting their wish, Tischer couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“You never know who’s who,” he said.
The duties of Tischer’s unit consisted of security measures. They spent their time patrolling villages, trying to protect its residents.
While in Afghanistan, the unit worked with the Afghan National Army (ANA). Tischer’s unit had a mostly amicable relationship with the ANA members, though the language barrier was an obstacle.
The skepticism was not the only uncomfortable aspect of Tischer’s time in Afghanistan.
His unit spent a substantial portion of their nights sleeping outside in sleeping bags. Their living quarters were made from sandbag barriers. The stifling heat wasn’t pleasant, either.
“There were days when it was 120 plus degrees,” said Tischer.
Most painful of all, though, was not the physical ardors of boot camp, the stifling heat of Afghanistan or the months away from family.
Tischer’s most painful memory is losing his best friend.
He had known his best friend for the entirety of his military career; they had been together since the start.
His best friend’s death was unexpected, which made it all the more difficult.
Tischer prefers to stay out of the politics involving the conflict in Afghanistan.
“I just did what we were supposed to do,” he said.
Tischer believes his perception of Muslims has changed since being in Afghanistan. Although he knows that most Americans view Muslims as harboring anger and having a propensity for terrorism, he recognized, “There are good ones, too.”
Despite always knowing he wanted to go into the military, Tischer does not have plans to re-enlist.
“It’s a struggle when you’re in but it’s a good experience.”
Tischer planned on attending Rasmussen College for marketing after enjoying some well-earned time off this summer.