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Military: ‘Afghanistan is one of the most aggressive countries in the living memory’

Former Army Corporal Haroon Horrell is not surprised by the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, but how quickly everything has happened. [File photo].

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Former Army Corporal Haroon Horrell is not surprised by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, but how quickly everything has happened. [File photo].

Former Kiwi soldier Corporal Haroon Horl, who was serving in Afghanistan, always expected a takeover.

“… If you look at history, Afghanistan is one of the most invasive countries in living memory.

“You’ve got Alexander the Great, like Genghis Khan, the British went there three times, and everyone who ever conquered this country eventually left.

Between 2004 and 2012, Horl served in the military in Afghanistan and also worked in private security there. He now lives in Gore.

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While the US military remained in Afghanistan for 20 years, the New Zealand military served 10 of them.

“In Bamiyan, we gave the region 10 years of freedom, security and stability as much as we could, and millions of dollars were sent back to the region from New Zealand,” he said.

Because no one knows how powerful the Taliban will be now, compared to the way they were 20 years ago, Horrell did not believe that everything achieved in the last two decades would be lost.

The Taliban of 20 years ago may be different today. It’s hard to say, “he said.

Aaron Horl, a serviceman at Gore RSA, returned. [File photo].

Nicole Sharp / Things.

Aaron Horl, a serviceman at Gore RSA, returned. [File photo].

During his time in Afghanistan, Horl said, it was important for New Zealand officials to learn and respect culture.

“If you can win over the locals, you’ve won half the battle,” he said.

He said that eight and a half million children have been given access to education as well as women.

“The governor of Bamyan province was in fact a woman, like never before in her history.

“A lot of the first things happened when we were there,” Horrell said.

Since returning to New Zealand, he has changed gears and become a small business owner.

His business, Grants Grug, regularly serves and donates to New Zealand men and women.

Gore is a member of the RSA and is in regular contact with other veterans and still thinks of the 10 soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

“The friendships you make with colleagues there last a lifetime.”

He also tries to keep in touch with Afghan interpreters he met during his service.

His time in Afghanistan made him realize how lucky the New Zealanders are.

“People there risk their lives to be able to go to school in Afghanistan, while you hear children screaming for going to school in New Zealand,” he said.

“[If] Many New Zealand critics have seen how Third World countries live, they may have a little more respect for the way they live in New Zealand.

“Because we have so much to be thankful for in this country.”

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