There are a limited number of interpreters available to us in
Afghanistan. Most of the time you can find one, sometimes you can’t.
Over time, a shorthand has been developed between the Afghan security
personnel(police, soldiers, etc.) and Americans. It also helps to
speak a little bit of the language. I’ve managed to pick up enough
pashto to at least make myself understood.
I’ve learned enough to ask the six common questions(who, what, when,
where, why, how), and to give some basic commands. I can also conduct
a flawless introduction and count from 0 to 100. I can describe units
of time and distance, and tell the guards to go to the bazaar to get
me a goat kabob.
One of the most common shorthand phrases is “double good.” Afghans
use it as a question to gauge our approval, or to express their
opinion. Americans use it to praise even a mediocre Afghan effort.
Every time my opinion is required, and what I’m looking at is even
remotely awesome, I reward my counterparts with an exuberant “Double
The opposite of “double good” is “no good.” This is used for
admonishment on both sides of the fence. For example, when I make my
counterparts submit to a talashee, the most common response is “No
good Marine. No good.”
The other day, one of the officers I work with asked an Afghan what he
thought of the United States. The reply was, “USA Double Good!” When
the Afghan was asked to write this in the dust on the back bumper of
his vehicle, the product was a large, “USA DUBL GOOD”