Ret. Colonel talks about progress in Afghanistan

Jason Angus Reporter

December 19, 2013

A new Rotary member was inducted, and retired Army Reserve Col. Mike Consadine of Pryor was a guest speaker at the Altus Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 17, held in the WOSC all-purpose room. Col. Consadine shared some of his experiences from his tours in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and most recently Afghanistan.

Retired Army Reserve Col. Mike Consadine, was invited to guest speak by Rotarian of the Day, Councilman Dwayne Martin. Before retiring from the Army Reserve in 2010, Martin served under Col. Consadine during their tour together of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

Col. Consadine, who retired from the Army Reserve this May after 38 years of service, spoke about changes in the Army Reserve following 9/11, and stated that they no longer fill their traditional combat role.

“Two weeks of summer camp and one weekend a month went out the door,” Col. Consadine said. “Now reservists are being mobilized all of the world and are playing a huge part in what we’ve done in Afghanistan and also Iraq.”The National Defense Authorization Act passed in 2012 allowed reservists to help with disaster response with the National Guard, adding aviation lift, search and rescue, chemical, medical, logistics support, transportation, security, intelligence, public affairs, and Mission Command Units capabilities, Col. Consadine explained.

Col. Consadine, former Commander of the 5045th GSU, spoke about his tour in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2008 where their mission was to train the Georgian 5th Brigade. “We went and set up and old Soviet base over there and we would run the base and take care of all the life support over on that base.” One major challenge he and his 1500 troops had to address was not having access to running water to wash up or flush toilets. By improving the relationship with the Georgian Colonel and his troops, they we’re able to resolve the problem and bring water to the base within two weeks. “It’s not just hands on skills that reservists bring a lot of the time,” Consadine said, noting that Georgian troops are not know to always be very trusting of others. “The skills they bring are being able to get along with people.”

Col. Consadine also spoke about his tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2012 where coincidentally his two sons and his nephew were also deployed there at the same time. “It was kind of unusual for all of us to end up in Afghanistan at the same time,” he said. Considine was the Senior Advisor to the Provincial Governor of Kandahar, and also the Senior Officer for a Security Forces Assistance Team.

“Maybe we wont change them totally,” Col. Consadine said about having American forces in Afghanistan. “And maybe there is a lot of problems in the whole region, but on an individual basis I know we’ve helped a lot of people.”

Since 2002 primary school students increased from 900,000 to 8 million, with more than one-third being girls, Col. Consadine provided. University enrolment in 2001 went from 8,000 to 77,000 in 2011, twenty percent being women. Literacy is at 35 percent and growing. Twenty-seven percent of seats in Parliament are filled by women.

“As Afghanistan becomes more modern, they are also trying to establish democracy there, and even though it is somewhat corrupt, they now have an independent media system, and when you compare it to the region they are far more democratic,” Col. Consadine said. “And they are working at it.”