FVTC instructor serves with Army Reserves in Afghanistan

July 27, 2011

From jsonline.com: “Small-town mayor uses big-time diplomacy in war zone” — Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan – Little did Manawa Mayor Dave Sarna know when he deployed to Afghanistan last fall that his skills as a small-town politician would come in handy.

Though he’s assigned to a combat engineer unit, Sarna spent a few months as “mayor” of a forward operating base, running the U.S. military installation like any other community, albeit one smack dab in a war zone.

And he’s spent part of his deployment working with an Afghan Army engineer unit helping train them to take over road clearance duties and search for IEDs. Working with Afghan officers and interpreters required the diplomatic skills of a politician who served eight years on the Manawa city council before he was elected mayor.

“If you want to sum up the role of a mayor, you’re basically a problem-solver,” Sarna said in his office at this U.S. military base in Kandahar province. “But there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the right decision. Back home if you make a mistake, the worst that can happen is it’ll cost taxpayer dollars. Here a mistake can mean loss of life.”

About 15 months after he was elected mayor, a part-time job, he received his orders to deploy with the Wausau-based Army Reserve 428th Engineer Co. He previously served in Desert Storm and Iraq in 2006-’07 and didn’t have to go back to war.

But Sarna felt it was something he needed to do.

Read more from jsonline.com

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