Assignment Afghanistan: Soldiers Mean Big Business for Local Vendors

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BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN News 3's Steve Fullhart and Rachel Cox from KWTX News 10 in Waco are on assignment covering Texans serving in Afghanistan.

Dozens of shop owners in Afghanistan go to work everyday at some of the shops in the market area of Bagram Airfield.

Bargaining is the name of the game for many local vendors who say the American soldiers generate most of their business.

One shop owner named Daddulah said he'd been running his shop in the open air market at Bagram for almost half a decade.

At first glance, Daddulah's shop looks like the average booth in the market with tables lined with trinkets and jewelery, but he says he stays in business because he gets to know his customers and many often return to make more purchases.

While on assignment in Afghanistan reporting stories of Central Texas soldiers in the war zone Daddulah sat down with Steve Fullhart of KBTX and News 10's Rachel Cox.

Daddulah shared a cup of chai tea and an Afghanistan cake bread dish with the two and told them about how he helps support his immediete family with 24 members by running the shop.

"Everyday is business, business and money for my family, and my family is also very happy," Daddulah said.

Business that's boosted by Americans spending American dollars in the shops. One shopping trip proved that American dollars are more enticing to vendors than Afghan money or other forms of currency.

Vendors in the shops are usually more willing to make a deal with Americans carrying cash since the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) takes 20 percent of their recorded profits in exchange for allowing them to set up shop at Bagram.

But with the drawdown of American troops in the country vendors like Daddulah may soon have to rethink their customer base.

"This talk about the American soldier, his (leaving) is bad. It's very bad. Maybe no work for (the) Afghan people," Daddulah said.

As American troops prepare to head home, the Afghan army and police forces continue to train to step up to provide security for the Afghan people.

Daddulah said he has confidence in the Afghan police force, which has many members at Bagram, but says he's still concerned about how his business could change.