MWDN: Southborough selectman heeds the call out of Africa

by susan on June 15, 2012

Metrowest Daily News reporter Brad Petrishan got an unexpected response when he called Southborough Selectman Dan Kolenda on his cell phone this week. Here’s what happened:

Asked if he had time to talk when reached on his cellphone Wednesday evening, selectmen Vice Chairman Daniel Kolenda gave an unexpected response.

“I’m knee deep in the Congo jungle, but what’s going on?” Kolenda replied, somewhat to the shock of the reporter.

Additional conversation established that Kolenda, a major in the Army Reserve and veteran of the Iraq war, was recently sent on a mission to the central African nation to help train its army.

Kolenda expects to be back in Southborough by the end of the month. Read more about his work in Congo, and his impressions of the country, in this article by the MWDN.

{ 9 comments }

1 resident June 15, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Kudos to Dan for his service to our country. All of our soldiers should be commended for what they do and keeping us safe and free.

On another note, why in the world are we spending our hard earned money to train the African Army. Is there not enough things for our troops to do here for our own people? I am certainly not downgrading what these men and women do but the government would do better to spend OUR money in OUR country. I would think they could build houses for our homeless, and hurrican/tornado victims that may still not have shelter. I would think they could spend time feeding the homeless adn poor since there are so many of them that need services. It just seems like yet another governmental waste of our resources. I am happy to help elsewhere but I think we should finally start looking and working for OUR people. Enough already.

That said, Dan, come home safe and sound to your beautiful family.

2 Tim Martel June 15, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Resident, your questions will be answered in the linked article.

Dan, we’re proud to have you as our Selectman.

3 resident June 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

My questions are not answered in the link. Although admirable, we should be taking care of our own. THEY are not our problem the AMERICAN PEOPLE are. The comment on the link says it best. Time to stop wasting our money on other countries.

4 earl June 15, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Infant mortality per 1,000: 5.98 USA v. 74.22 Congo (more than 7 out of 100 births; infant mortality 12X higher in Congo)

Maternal mortality per 100,000 live births: 24 USA v. 580 Congo (moms 24X more likely to die giving birth)

GDP – per capita (PPP): $48,100 USA v. $4,600 Congo
#s above from the CIA fact book

resident,

We can respectfully disagree. I believe THEY are OUR problem – and whatever we spend is probably not enough.

Thank you Dan for your service.

5 Al Hamilton June 15, 2012 at 7:18 PM

Resident I am afraid that in this case I more or less agree with you. (I am not sure which of us should be more appalled)

Earl – I am not sure that we are really involved in Africa for noble reasons. Africa is the new front line in our global competition with China. The Chinese are spending heavily and gaining influence through investments both public and private. The goal is to secure influence, access to resources and ultimately markets. We are involved for the same reasons. Think of it as another chapter in the “Great Game”.

But lets look at the situation realistically. Where does the money we might spend in Africa to gain influence come from? We are borrowing it from China and are sticking our children and grandchildren with the bill. Of course while we are trying to gain influence in Africa the Chinese are gaining influence here by weight of the amount of our debt they are carrying.

The US and particularly it’s military could be the worlds policeman. Whether we should is another question, one that I doubt is a wise path. What I am sure of is that we have not figured out how to get paid for that service. For the last 65 years or so we have provided a defense umbrella and subsidy for Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Israel and most of this hemisphere. This list is growing and we have allowed these folks to spend far less (% GDP) than we have on defense when we should have gotten paid for that service.

6 Djd66 June 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM

First, thank you to Dan for his service to our country. a happy father’s day to you while I enjoy the freedom you are protecting for us.

I also agree with resident and Al. There are all kinds of problems in this country. Our biggest problem is the spending that is going on – it is NOT sustainable. We can not afford to borrow trillions of dollars to go spend on anything. There should be major cuts across the board – military included. Its very simple, This country will be broke very soon unless this changes.

7 Just Curious June 17, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Al,

Perhaps one of the reasons to train the African Armies is so they can fight Al Quaeda in Africa. They have spread from the Egypt to Iraq to Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, etc. Let’s help the locals fight the terrorists on their own turf.

8 Mark Ford June 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Thanks for your service, Dan.

9 Al Hamilton June 18, 2012 at 8:08 AM

The old “enemy of my enemy is my friend” argument has some validity but also often tends to be counter productive in the long run.

Remember, we funded and supplied the Taliban when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. We see today how that investment paid off. We backed the Shah in Iran and as a result when he fell we were left on the outside looking in. We spent our blood and treasure on the folly in Iraq only to see Iran be the big winner. We are spending billions in Pakistan with little to show for it but increasing hostility. We have supported ($billions/year) the Egyptian military who are now engaged in a coup against the popularly elected government (yes I know they are Islamist). When they finally fall how much influence will we have?

When we provide military support the clear implication is that we are backing one side or the other in what are often longstanding ethnic/tribal/religious/sectarian rivalries. When the side we back falls we lose.

All of this folly is paid for with money we don’t have.

I have nothing but respect and appreciation for Dan and his service to our country. But I have become extremely skeptical about our need to stick our nose into every nook and cranny of the world particularly by supporting the despot du jour just because they are not Al Queida.

If we are serious about this muscular form of diplomacy then let’s raise the tax revenue to pay for it so we all share in the sacrifice and re-institute the draft.

When Congressman’s and Senators children are conscripted I will know we are serious.

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