Eric Aubrey talks about life in Afghanistan

By Crispin Havener , Steve Long

Published 07/03 2014 09:37PM

Updated 07/03 2014 10:39PM

Eric Aubrey has spent much of the last 10 years helping build military bases for the Afghanistan National Army. He says a lot has changed over the years.

"My very first two tours there, at that point, we did not have armored vehicles...we were driving around town, project sites, just in regular cars, SUV, unarmored," Aubrey says.

But in 2007, violence began to escalate, and security got a little tighter. That didn't stop Aubrey and his crew from the Corps of Engineers from visiting Afghan schools, doing their part to make things a little easier for students there.

"It was kind of eye opening the first time I ever went to one of those," Aubrey says. "You can't even imagine how poor.. I mean, the school, a lot of the classrooms are Comex containers with a tarp in between them and just some chairs underneath.  I mean, it was very, very, lower than third world."

Aubrey says it touched his heart, to be able to help, no matter how small.

"I just felt good that at least we were giving them pencils, paper, a lot of the basic stuff," Aubrey says.

But what Aubrey and the Corps of Engineers are leaving behind for the Afghan Army isn't so basic.

"They range from literally building a brand new base for 5,000 troops out in the middle of the desert, training schools, hospitals, military ranges."

And with the work expected to be completed by the end of the year, Aubrey is cautiously optimistic about the future.

"Operations and maintenance of all the stuff that we have built, that was a big concern.  Here the last couple of years, the Afghans are finally learning how to take care of their own stuff, which is a big step forward."

That's not the only sign of progress Aubrey sees.

"Their election they just had, I guess they're still trying to finalize who the winner is, but that's the first time they will ever hopefully have a peaceful transition from one president to another," Aubrey says. "That in itself is a huge step showing progress in the country."

But even with all the growth Aubrey sees, he still worries for the people of the nation where he's spent much of the last decade.

"I kind of feel for the average Afghan because most of them are very poor. They just want to make a living and survive.  You know, they're not into fighting and trying to create heartaches for anybody. They just want to do like anybody else, just provide for their family.  And I'm hoping they're going to be able to do that."

Despite his personal connection to the area, Aubrey shares the same hopes as most Americans, when it comes to the future of Afghanistan.

"I'm hoping, I know all Americans are, that with all the resources we've invested in that country, that it will be a worthwhile expenditure in the years to come," Aubrey says.

And as for his own future?  Will he go back?

"I think I've done my share for Afghanistan," Aubrey says. "If some other country came up that I've never been to, I might consider it."

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