The Road Not Taken In Afghanistan
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick L. Gaydon is in charge of stability operations in Afghanistan for the United States Army. “Gaydon steadfastly sticks with all the rules. Hindred with the attention on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program and the rules that followed from it, he unwaveringly refuses to break any rules, even if he knows he can. He has achieved everything that is asked of him within the boundaries of all laws, rules and regulations. If there are laws or rules that need to be changed, he initiates change,” said CPT Jonathan Pan, economic development officer and part of Task Force Stryker. “It’s easier to break the rules and let the next guy clean it up or deal with the regulations,” he added. He said that Gaydon reminds him of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken.
To CPT Pan, by taking the road less traveled, Gaydon has emerged as a moral compass to many of his subordinate soldiers and officers. One of Gaydon’s platoon leaders remarked, “Colonel Gaydon is the only person who ground guides his vehicle even for a hundred meters.” Pan adds that Gaydon’s moral fortitude is especially apparent to his military supervisor, Colonel Harry D. Tunnell, commander of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Gaydon was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at age 37 to command one of the largest brigades in Afghanistan, the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, consisting of 900 soldiers and officers. “His knowledge of stability operations in Afghanistan is second to none,” said Colonel Tunnell.
Aside from being a battalion commander, Gaydon is in charge of the Governance, Reconstruction, and Development (GR&D) Fusion Cell which is unique only to Task Force Stryker. The fusion cell acts as a mini-Provincial Reconstruction Team with most of its responsibilities, but with a fraction of the manpower and equipment according to Pan.
Lieutenant Colonel Gaydon states that Colonel Tunnell realized early on that his brigade would be operating in regions of southern Afghanistan beyond the reach of most development resources. “By establishing a GR&D fusion cell at brigade-level, he enabled us to coordinate for and push resources out to the people in those areas,” Gaydon said.
“As a result, the districts of Arghandab, Maiwand, and Spin Boldak have substantial development going on right now, inside the persistent security bubble that US forces are providing with our Afghan National Security Forces partners.”
CPT Pan adds,” It is through his sheer perseverance and a lot of hours that has made Gaydon more knowledgeable about topics as varied as dams, corruption, value chains and economics than his subordinates and staff.”
Gaydon demonstrates independent thinking and placing soldiers’ concerns above all else. It is well merited by those around him. Pan describes him as part of the Maverick Fallacy, ” unconventional maverick Army officers that are successful in combat because they think outside the box.”
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick L. Gaydon is the son of Marie and Lewis Gaydon who live in Muncy, PA.