This is a picture that pretty much sums up, why we as Americans and other coalition forces are currently in Afghanistan.
This is a picture of a young man, from the Chemtal District of Balk Province in Northern Afghanistan after he had voted just a few minutes before. The blue on his finger symbolizes that he had just voted. Interestingly there is no absentee voting in Afghanistan. You vote in your home district, if your name and identification do not match you do not vote. After you vote you stick you finger in a blue dye, so that you can not vote again and corrupt the system.
This young man, who I unfortunately wasn't able to get his name, was excited to come up and talk to an American as he wanted to try out his English which he had been learning in school. He stated that his goal was to continue learning English with the goal of getting a good job so that he could provide for his family. I told him that is great and the education will help the people of Afghanistan. Through his broken English, from what I was able to understand, he asked what the coalition forces were doing here in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people? I explained to him that our job, and my job was to help train the soldiers pictured in the background to be better soldiers.
My unit and I were in the Chemtal district, helping our Afghan Kandak as they were helping to secure different polling stations in the area. The goal was to help ensure that the parliamentary elections were free of intimidation and violence. The soldiers pictured in the back ground were not the soldiers of the Kandak that we mentor, rather members of an Afghan Army Commando unit. There showed up to help our Kandak, members of the Afghan National Police (ANP), and our small unit of Coalition forces as we went to investigate reports of violence just a few short kilometers aways. A true multi-national joint operation.