Afghanistan Comes To Westport

With few exceptions, Westporters are far removed from the war in Afghanistan.  We don’t know anyone serving there, and because the news involves bombs and indecipherable local feuds — not the more familiar finance and entertainment — we easily ignore it.

LTC Tania Chacho

With few exceptions, Tania Chacho’s working life revolves around Afghanistan. A lieutenant colonel who served in peacekeeping and stabilization efforts all over the world, she now directs the comparative politics program at West Point.  Soon after graduating, many of her students end up in Afghanistan.

Westporters who have not thought much about Afghanistan can do so tonight (May 11) — from the comfort of the Westport Public Library.  At 7:30 p.m. LTC Chacho will speak about coalition and American strategies, and the factors that may help or hinder success.

As familiar as Chacho is with military affairs and defense policy, she is equally at home in Westport.  Her husband, LTC Jonathan Liba, is a Staples grad.  His parents still live here.

He has been in Kabul since July — giving Chacho a particularly keen interest in the country.

As a professor, she examines every issue through many angles.  As a military officer, though, she realizes “you see things through your perspective — your mission.  It’s not easy getting a sense of the larger picture.”

The result, she says, is “lots of different information, varying senses of what we’re trying to accomplish.  It’s not easy to assess.”

But there is one thing she’s certain of:  her students.

“My cadets are amazing,” she says.  “They have an awesome, incredible responsibility.  It’s inspiring to see their dedication.  Their eyes are wide open.

“I’m biased, but I invite anyone into my classes to see what we’re talking about, and how my cadets are responding.  You’ll be impressed.”

And if you can’t get to West Point to see Chacho — lieutenant colonel and professor — in action, do the next best thing.  Get to the library tonight.

5 responses to “Afghanistan Comes To Westport

  1. I applaud the Lieutenant Colonel for her service, her dedication and her expertise. I further applaud her students, the Point and their zeal for America. However, I won’t got listen to her speak about a war I do not support. There is no rational reason why we are in Afghanistan except to feed the military industrial complex that seemingly has not received enough profit (or loss) from our invasion into Iraq. The cost in lives, deficit spending and the absolute impossibility of success, far outweigh our troops being there. I wonder if Pat Tilly’s parents will be there to hear the rhetoric of the professor?

  2. Art Johnson

    I will go tonight to listen. That is about it. Since World War II, wars don’t work anymore. Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq and back again to Afghanistan. The United States is just not very good at nation building. We have a 780 billion dollar military budget and we can’t find an enemy that doesn’t even own an airplane. Plus, terrorists are already here. Why are we searching for them in Afghanistan. I say bring the troops home.

  3. Dave Matlow



    Thanks for elevating the awareness of us all in the community of the war in Afghanistan.

    You’re right for the most part that most of us do not know anyone serving there.

    But just for the record see westportnow of 11/6/09

    I agree that most Westporters do not know Firefighter Nick Marsan and he is/was not a Westport resident but very much a Westporter in his past service to our town.

    Recognizing that you are thorough, sensitive and fair in everything you do and write I believe I am not out of line by bringing this point to your attention.

    Nick has many friends in Westport and especially within the police and fire departments, many of whom are undoubtedly readers of your very popular blog.

    Everyone one of them does know someone serving in Afghanistan…at least they know and think of Nick and his risky service.

    see Westportnow – 11/6/09

    Westport firefighter Nick Marsan (r) thanks fellow firefighters, family and friends gathered tonight at the Westport VFW Post to honor him in advance of his departure this month for military service in Afghanistan. He is scheduled for a one-year assignment with the 102nd Infantry National Guard unit based in Norwalk where he serves as a staff sergeant. Marsan, 36, a Fairfield resident, is.the father of two children, Cheyenne, 14, and Nicholas, 9. “I’ll miss my family, but I’m focused and I’ll do the job I’m there to do,” he said. Marsan was on active military duty with the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1999, has served with the National Guard for the past three years, and has been a member of the Westport Fire Department for two years.

    Dave Matlow

  4. Former Soldier


    Thank you for sharing SSH Marsan’s story. I wish I could be there to thank him in person tonight.

    The 1-102 Infantry has been through heel and back since the start of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The unit has lost several soldiers:

    In Iraq:
    Sgt. Felix M. Delgreco
    22, Simsbury, Connecticut
    U.S. Army National Guard

    Spec. Robert W. Hoyt
    21, Ashford, Connecticut
    U.S. Army

    In Afghanistan:
    Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Phaneuf
    38, Eastford, Connecticut
    U.S. Army

    This Memorial Day, I pray we will all remember those who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to keep us safe.

    Thank you, SSG Marsan.

    And … thank LTC Chaco for trying to help all of us understand this incredibly complex (and dangerous) mission. Keep training those young men and women to use their minds as leaders. America needs great leaders.

  5. Arthur Johnson

    I note in the USA Today yesterday that spending in Afganistan is now higher than that in Iraq. 12.5 billion for both a MONTH! Do we have to bring back the draft for people to start caring about these wars. Bring the troops home.