Sunday, November 16, 2008

The End

I would like to thank everyone for reading my blog over the past 9 months. Soon I will be back in the US and will not be posting anymore. It has been an adventure and I'm glad that I could share it with everyone. I hope to see you all in the following months, and catch up face to face.

Thank you and God Bless.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Air Force 42, Army 0

A few days ago we had the Air Force/Army football game here on the FOB. In the first few minutes the game looked like it was going to be a close one. However, after two drives the Air Force’s speed took over and a blow out ensued.

The PRT is about half Army and half Air Force, and at one point we even had a Navy officer on the team. This makes for some interesting dynamics in both living and working environments. At the beginning of the deployment there was a clear divide between the two, as one might expect. But as missions rolled on and we all worked together outside the FOB as well as on, the team became less an Army and Air Force team and more of an Army/Air Force team. That was until the football game. For that hour and a half we were back to being divided and playing such hard football that you would never know we all came from the same ‘team’. In the end the Air Force won (by a lot) but what was really important was that we all had fun together in the little time we have left here.

Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Taliban

There is no doubt that the security situation in Afghanistan has gotten quite a bit worse (it’s now worse than Iraq). Places that have been “safe” in the past have started seeing different forms of violence. What you probably here about most, is the IEDs (roadside bombs) or direct contact ambushes, like the ones that killed the 9 soldiers in Konar or the 9 French soldiers. As for the locals, they face intimidation, theft and murder. What all these things have in common is that the “Taliban” perpetrated the crime. If someone attacks coalition forces… the Taliban did it. If someone gets kidnapped… the Taliban did it. If someone steals a car… you guessed it, the Taliban did it. I’m not trying to say that there is no Taliban threat, in fact the Taliban is very real, very evil and causing a lot of problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, I’m not sure that everything that goes wrong here can be attributed to the Taliban. Afghanistan is a terribly poor country, one of the poorest in the world. They lack sufficient police and military forces, they lack a stable government and they lack faith in what little services they do have. With all that stacked against them, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that there might be some crime that is perpetrated by the desperate and deranged, with no affiliation to the Taliban.

Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


In past posts, I have talked about our local engineer. Engineer Shukrullah, or “Shuak” as we call him, is an extremely important member of our team. Aside from “hello” and “how are you” none of us speak any of the local language, Pashto. Shauk does, being that he is a native of Paktya Province, but he is also an engineering graduate from the University of Kabul, and thus an important technical advisor. He interfaces with the local contractors and government officials, translates for us at meetings, performs quality assurance site visits and helps us with cost estimates, since construction prices in Afghanistan are a little different from the States. Shauk has also become a friend, going to lunch with us (when he isn’t fasting for Ramadan), going to the gym and just sitting and talking about nothing in general. He also has felt the pain of the violence here, when his brother was killed by the Taliban earlier this year.

This week is Shauk’s last here at PRT Gardez, because in a few weeks he will head to the United States. He was awarded a special immigrant visa as a reward for his years of service to the US and Afghan governments. He has asked us all a lot of questions about what the US is like, because he has only ever traveled inside Afghanistan (aside from an interview he had in Pakistan as part of his visa process.) He is an intelligent guy and I hope he does well in the land of the free. I also hope that he doesn’t run into any post-9/11 bigotry, because he has served his, and our country honorably in a place and on a mission very few Americans will ever fully understand.

Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


A large part of what we do here involves holding meetings with locals. The meetings for us, in the engineer section tend to be with, either Afghan government officials or local contractors who are working on our projects. The very first meeting I had here was with the governor of Logar province, Governor Wardak. We had dinner at his house so we could all meet and discuss the issues for us, the new team on the ground. Two weeks ago Governor Wardak was killed by a roadside bomb in the northern part of his province. That served to remind us that the violence here is not just aimed at NATO forces, but also those who work too closely with us.

Nonetheless, even with the constant threat of violence here, locals continue to work with us toward the common goal of making Afghanistan better. Just this week, I had a meeting with the Gardez city mayor, the Director of Power and the Director of Water Supply to discuss an in depth plan to provide paved streets, power, fresh water and sewer to a large portion of the city. Unlike many of the meetings we had, all parties came together with ideas and a willingness to genuinely work together. Like all meetings here, I left not completely sure what course this project might take. However, I did leave with an unusual optimism and hope is a valuable thing in Afghanistan.

Thank you and God Bless.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Slow Days

The days here are almost always the same. The only thing that varies is whether you go on a mission or not. If I don’t have a mission, I wake up at 6:30 to go running, then shower and head to breakfast at 8:00. After breakfast we go in to the office and work until lunch. Sometime after lunch is gym. After dinner it’s reading, watching movies, playing games and bed. It’s the same thing everyday, which can be good and bad. That routine really helped me get back into the swing of things after leave. But lately it has gotten too predictable and really boring. In fact I didn’t realize just how boring it is until I wrote it all down and read it again.

Mission days are more exciting, due to the fact that it’s more dangerous, there is more open space to cover and there are different places and people to see. However, as we get closer to leaving, nobody seems to want to go on missions, as though having something bad happen in last few months would be even worse. So in the remaining time we are stuck, not looking forward to the days that go by the fastest and hoping for boring days on the FOB.

Thank you and God Bless.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Afghan Fall

Recently I got back from a week long mission to the border region and aside from the daily missions far too close to Pakistan, it was the first time that it has felt like spring here. Where I am at, in the mountains, the weather has been pretty nice all summer long. It would usually get up in the 90’s during the day and cool off to the mid 60’s at night. In fact the weather in Gardez is by far its most endearing quality. However, over the past few days there has been a cool breeze during the day, and at night it has gotten to the point that a jacket is almost a necessity. It feels more comforting when the weather starts to get cool here; for one thing the violence tends to drop as it cools and all the fighters head back to Pakistan for the winter. For another the fall has always been my favorite time of year, so even if there are no trees with colorful leaves, it still reminds me of fall days in Vermont. Fall also means that we are getting closer to going home for good, and that above all else, is the most comforting part of the changing weather.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Big Push

Well it has been almost two full weeks back in beautiful Gardez Afghanistan. The first week went by painfully slow, but the routine has started to come back to me. Just before I left for leave we got around $20 million in projects funded. With that, there has been a big push to get them all under contract, which started a few weeks before I left and is just finishing up now. That has helped to keep our engineering shop busy and being busy always helps the time go by. Some parts of this job are more rewarding than others, however, getting projects funded that you spent countless hours on, has to be one the more rewarding feelings so far. Not to mention that the two I worked the hardest on, a sustainable hybrid power system and a micro water treatment plant, will do great things for people who have never had power or reliable drinking water. All in all, with the big project push, meetings and missions, the focus still remains on the time left and getting everyone back to their family and friends.

Thank you and God Bless

Friday, August 22, 2008


Well I have been back in Afghanistan for a few days now and figure it’s time to restart the blog, if anyone still reads it.

Coming back after fifteen days of leave has been quite an adjustment to say the least. I had left here sure that the break would do me well and help to reenergize me for the final stretch. Leave was great; I had a blast and loved seeing everyone. However, I have not exactly hit the ground running over here. I’m not sure if it is lack of motivation or a slow readjustment the eight and a half hour time difference. I thought being home would be weird for the first few days or hours at least, but it never was. That was when I realized that home was normal, and here, well it’s just not… at all. With that said I’m hoping that it just takes a week or so slide back into a routine.

We are “short” now with the bulk of the deployment over, and seems like everyday someone (a lot of the time me) is stating just how many days are left. It really doesn’t help make the time go by any faster, but it is what most people are focused on now. We are all trying to finish up strong and get everyone home safe, and not lose focus in the last few months.

Thank you and God Bless.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Leave

It is less than a week until I head out on leave. It will be interesting to see what the view of Afghanistan from the US is. As far as plans for leave, I don’t really have many, but I hope to see as many friends and family as possible. I won’t be keeping up with the blog while I’m in the US, but I will fire it back up when I return. I hope I will be refreshed and write more regularly.

See you in a few weeks!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Time

The new pool right outside my door.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th

The day started out like most other days here. Got up, checked my email in my room, when to work and checked my email there. It was really a pretty normal day, no mission, just the day to day meetings and general office work. I didn’t really notice anything different, until we got to lunch. For lunch we had all sorts of BBQ food and red, white and blue decorations everywhere. Dinner was the same. Throughout the day some people would remember what day it was and give each other the obligatory “Happy Forth of July.” I took the chance to call Mom and Dad and wish them a happy Fourth; sorry I didn’t get the chance to make more calls. Just as I was figuring that this would be the first Fourth of July without any fireworks, I overheard the Sergeant Major tell out First Sergeant to get all his 203 gunners and meet outside at 8:00pm. The 203 is usually for firing grenades, but they can also fire flares. So, just as it got dark, we all gathered outside with the 203 gunners, flares in toe, for a short “firework display.” It wasn’t quite the same (a flare from a 203 puts off a lot of light but no booms and bangs) but it was the best way to celebrate the birth of the USA from Afghanistan.

I hope that everyone back home had a great Fourth of July, complete with better BBQ and “real” fireworks.

Thank you and God Bless.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Tomorrow will be the four month mark, that is, four months that we have been in Afghanistan. When I sit down and think about it time has been going by pretty fast. It doesn’t seem like it was four months ago that I sat down to write the first blog entry from Bagram. Time may be moving, party because we are staying busy during the peak of the construction season. However, I think that it is going by so fast because we all have got in to some sort of a rhythm. When we first got here, the learning curve was very steep, which helped the time go by. Now everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, and everything seems to fit in to place and just roll along.

Milestones like this allow an opportunity to look back at where I was and what I was thinking at the beginning, and index that against my current state of mind. Back in February I was pretty excited to get over here and start the work that I had volunteered to do. But with various road blocks along the way, not the least of which was losing two teammates to an IED, it is hard to regain that same excitement and motivation. More and more my attitude is turning from excitement about helping people who really need help, to watching the clock and counting the days. Either way, it is proof that time can fly, even if you’re not having all that much fun.

Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back In the Swing

We have all started to get back to the mission we were sent here to do. With harder times behind us, the missions have started rolling again with a renewed sense of purpose.

In the past week I went on three missions to visit a total of six schools and one hospital. One of the schools helped to remind all of us just why we are here. It was a boys and girls school near Gardez. The Taliban had bombed the girls’ wing at night and destroyed it. Their cowardly attempt to disrupt the young girls’ education failed, as instead of sending them home, the teachers have decided to make all classes coed.

In Afghanistan it is not rare to see boys and girls separated in school and it is becoming more common to see a building built by the Americans become a target of a bombing, even if that building is an elementary school. However, what they choose to do in the face of such hate is both uncommon and encouraging.

Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Day

It was just over a week after Memorial Day, a day when the country pauses to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. On that day we lost two soldiers to a cowardly roadside bomb. The news reports say the soldiers were out on patrol, but they were really on a mission to help people who are less fortunate than themselves. They were there to help build schools, roads and most of all build hope in a place that doesn’t have much of that. They are heroes.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Depending on the day, I either hate being here or enjoy it, and the work we are doing. Days when people die really suck, so far the Army guys we are here with have lost two guys and our local engineer’s brother was murdered by the Taliban. Good days usually involve trips to schools and seeing happy kids, just being kids even in the middle of a war.

However, good or bad this deployment has given me an opportunity to do some things that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do. Some aren’t so good, like 4 hour long convoys over the mountains of Afghanistan. I will never complain about a long car trip again. Some are good, like working on engineering projects that a Civil Engineer wouldn’t normally work on. Most notably is the combined solar and wind power plant designs that I have been working on with the Paktya Director of Power. Meeting local Afghans has been another positive outcome of being here. Whether it’s our local engineer, other locals that work on the FOB, or the contractors that build our projects, each of them has helped to give me a little better world view.

Good or bad they are all opportunities to learn something new, meet new people, or just appreciate a simple car ride a little more.

Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leave Has Started

It’s almost June, a full three months in to my time here in Paktya province, and leave has been going on for about a month now. For those who don’t know, or who haven’t talked to me lately, leave is a 15 day break from Afghanistan. You can go home, or to anywhere else in world for that matter, and just recharge the batteries. It’s a nice little program that Uncle Sam has set up. One of our guys went home to see his newborn son, he and his wife’s first child. Another guy went to Australia as a vacation that he may not have ever had the chance to go on. Some people have road trips planned, and some people still don’t know what they plan to do, and this fine.

However, as nice as it is for those on leave, inherently some people still here, have to pick up the slack. But you get the sense that there are no hard feelings about that at all, because we know that soon it will be our time.

Thank you and God Bless

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Long Pause

Once again it has been far too long between blog posts, and as usual I am going to use the old excuse that I have been very busy. However, more to the point is that I spent all of last week stuck at Bagram. Honestly though, if I had to get suck anywhere in Afghanistan, it would be Bagram Airfield. It initially started as an administrative trip, to do some odds and ends that needed to be done at a larger base. But after multiple days of cancelled flights, it turned into a glut-fest, with multiple stops at Burger King, DQ, Green Bean Coffee and Baskin Robins, all of which are not at Gardez. That was fun for a while but eating can only occupy so much of your day, and the rest of time I was floating around on a base that wasn’t mine and that had no real use for me. I joked about stopping by the civil engineer squadron and seeing if they needed any help (that was never more than a joke for sure).

However, I am now back in Gardez and getting back into the flow of real life, not BAF life. I’m back to hiking to the bathroom, eating the lousy food and doing work, but most of all I’m back to my little part of Afghanistan.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Another week has passed, and I have taken a while to write again. Lately I have been staying pretty busy and also finding it hard to write about what has become so day to day. When I started the blog everything was so new and exciting, and not that it’s a grind now, but it just doesn’t seem as easy to write about anymore.

I spent all this week out on the road, visiting different Afghan villages. That is mostly what I do now. When I first got here I mainly looked at ongoing projects to make sure they were being built properly, we call those QA mission (Quality Assurance missions). However, now I mostly go out with the Army Civil Affairs (CA) guys as they do assessments of the villages. These are more or less meet and greets, where the CA finds out the needs of the village, and then works with the village elders and the district governor to fix the problem. I come into play if the solution involves a construction project. If it does I get the ball rolling on putting that project in the pipeline to get constructed.

I’m not sure which missions I like more, or less. The QA missions are fast and easy because they are fairly cut and dry. If the construction is good, well then I move on, and if it’s not, they have to fix it. The CA missions end up being quite nebulous most of the time. It may be an irrigation structure, or school, or a bridge, but there is almost never agreement between all parties. Furthermore, some problems are solved without construction and some assessments made without engineer input (imagine that!), leaving me, just along for the ride. Either way, both missions make the time go by, so I guess I like them both… I guess.

Thank you and God Bless.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Toby Keith

Yesterday we had a little concert by country singer Toby Keith. Now even if you’re not a country music fan, you can appreciate the fact that a millionaire celebrity came to our little FOB in Afghanistan to put on a show for the soldiers and airmen here. He played for about a half hour and stuck to patriotic songs and numbers about drinking, both of which were crowd pleasers. After the show he stuck around and took some pictures with everyone, it was really a nice gesture for all the guys who are here.

A side from today’s excitement, this week has been pretty standard. Writing statements of work, reviewing bid submittals and missions to look at on-going projects and potential ones, tends to be how the days are spent here. Staying busy but not burning out, by throwing in the occasional movie, daily trips to the gym and reading. Time has been going by pretty fast here and I look forward to seeing everyone again.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring In Afghanistan

Today was beautiful spring day in Afghanistan and a perfect day for a barbeque, so we had one for lunch and another for dinner. The fact the dining facility was closed was the real reason for our gluttonous barbequing, but either way it was a nice change of pace from the usual.

I don’t usually see much of my team day to day (aside from the engineers) when we are not on a mission together. However, today was a nice social relaxing day, with the writing of a report in the morning, trying to convince brigade to build renewable energy projects, and an afternoon of football tossing and the aforementioned cookouts. With a movie night last night and the relaxing day today, I think my batteries are recharged for more long missions away from Gardez should they come up. Not that I’m necessarily asking for such a mission.

I think that the only thing that would help now is if I could watch a Yankee game at a decent hour, as opposed to the 4:30am time they come on over here. But if that is my only complaint then I guess I’m doing alright.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back East

I haven’t written in a while, far longer than I had intended to go without writing. However, I spent the last few days away from “home,” toward the eastern part of the province. The Army has many FOBs around Afghanistan, and I found myself at one smaller and far less comfortable than Gardez, for the better part of the week.

It was an interesting trip, even though there were no real engineering projects for me to see. We traveled around with local government officials and saw various completed projects, and some sites for proposed projects. But more interesting was the rain we got. I had been saying since I got here, that I have never seen more beautiful weather in my life. That changed this week, with rain and cold that reminded me of the spring weather in Vermont. It only added to the less than enjoyable time I had “on the road.” However, we could see the rain already greening things up on the way home. Afghanistan is in a ten year drought, so when the rain hits, all the plants soak it up and turn the country-side green… well, greenish brown. It almost looks like spring now.

With that said, this past week taught me that it’s nice to get out and travel, (it makes the time go by) but sometimes, it is nice to be on the home FOB; which I appreciate much more now, than I did just a few days ago.

Thank you and God Bless

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Busy Week

I followed up my rather slow last week with an awesome trip to the eastern part of the province this week. I had made it almost a full month in Afghanistan without seeing very many trees, if any at all. However, when I got east of the FOB here in Gardez, I saw flowering cherry trees, green terraces and forests. It was a refreshing site to see, after all the wind and dust of the last month.

I had a chance to look at few interesting projects while on my site seeing vacation. We saw a clinic that was built in a river bed. Most of the rivers here are only completely full a few months out of the year, the rest of the time they are small trickles, some only a few feet wide. Now we are trying to figure out how to divert the water during the wet season.
Some of the other projects we looked at were a school near the Pakistan border whose roof has been blown off and a future bridge across a stream similar to the one I just described.

It has been a good week and with things picking up, I will try to write more as I should have more news to report. I will try and post pictures tomorrow.

Thank you and God Bless

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter…

… and greetings from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Today marks my first holiday in Afghanistan (unless you count the Afghan New Year that was Friday). Things have been pretty quiet on the FOB this week, with construction season still just starting to get in to swing. Next week will prove to be far busier, and busy makes the time go faster.

This week we have been mostly talking to contractors on the FOB, doing paper work and tending to frantic requests. The most interesting event of this week (aside from painting Yankee pinstripes on our B-hut door), was when our local engineer brought in pictures from the national archives in Kabul. These pictures showed an Afghanistan of 40 years ago before the Soviet invasion, civil war and Taliban rule. Parts of Afghanistan looked very modern, with Kabul resembling any modern city of the era. It’s hard to believe the pictures as you are looking at them, knowing that just outside the gates there is very little, if anything, that resembles a modern city. If anything, the pictures gave me hope that, if they were so close before, peace and prosperity may be just around the corner.

Thank you and God Bless.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thumbs Up

I’m not sure where the children of Afghanistan got the idea, but it seems every town we drive through, the kids run out to the side of the road to give the American convoy the thumbs up. Sometimes it’s just a thumbs up, sometimes they yell too, and most of the time little children are running over each other to get out to the road. All to give a fleeting convoy of Americans a thumbs up.

I’m not sure at what age they stop doing this, but there are definitely no adults giving us the thumbs up. However, whether people wave or do nothing but watch us go by, everyone seems to stop what they are doing to see the convoy. I would have thought that with having the coalition forces here since 2001, most people would be used to seeing military vehicles and think nothing of them. It doesn’t seem that way. One of the guys here said “it’s like we are the newest show on TV and everyone wants to see.”

Most of the time I wave and smile, but I never get used to everyone in town stopping what they are doing to watch us. Hopefully someday soon there won’t need to be military vehicles rolling through their towns, and when there are, they will look at them with bewilderment, just as Americans would if a convoy of humvee’s came rolling down our streets.

Thank you and God Bless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day to Day

The turn over with the guys we are replacing is going well, and what seemed overwhelming when we first got here, is quickly becoming the day to day. I have now gone on some missions, done some paperwork, sat in on some briefings, seen some local construction, ate some local food, met with some local political leaders and gave some kids a few pens. I haven’t done it all by any means, but I have done enough to know that this reconstruction mission is both noble and extremely difficult.

Just like my first night in Afghanistan, there are still events that remind you that it is not “all quite on the western front”. Today we had two children playing outside the gate get blown up by a land mine. One of the kids died as a result of his wounds and the other had to be airlifted to another medical facility. Interestingly enough this came off the heels of talking to our local engineer about how poorly the Soviets treated the Afghans. He also brought up that the coalition forces respect the people; we build schools and roads and MEDEVAC the locals when they are in need. Knowing that we can do some good helps on days like this.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Settling In

After a little while here I am starting to settle in to my “new home.” Part of making this feel more like home is that I currently have internet in my room. As a result I have added a link to pictures on the right hand side of the blog. I will try to add new photos as I post a new entry.

I had mentioned in the last post that the living conditions on my current FOB are not as nice as some of the others in Afghanistan. With that said, and running the risk of sounding like a whiner, I will give some of the highlights and the low lights of my current situation. I live in a 20 foot by 10 foot room, which is quite large on a FOB where space is at a premium. In my room I have a twin bed with my own linens, a TV with DVD player, a mini fridge and as I noted internet. I can hold a conversation with my neighbor, through the wall with out raising my voice. But we get along quite well so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a lot like a college dorm room, only made entirely out of plywood. The walls are plywood, the floors are plywood, the desk is plywood, the shelves are plywood… you get the picture. The dinning facility is alright, not good, not bad. The food is actually pretty good with a fairly plentiful selection. In fact the more I think about it and the more I write, the more realize it’s A LOT like college dorm living conditions, except for one large difference. The nearest bathroom is 160 steps away on the other side of the FOB. This is not that bad until 2am, and you have to quickly throw clothes on and dance your way over there.

With all that said it is pretty decent here and I really can’t complain. The hard work ahead should prove to be rewarding and I look forward it.

Thank you and God Bless.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My New Home

After a few more days of travel mixed with a few days of waiting, I have made it to Gardez. I was glad to get here and settle in, even if the accommodations are far less lavish than what I had been getting accustom to. However, guys we are replacing are far happier to see us than we could ever be to see Gardez. I had one of the Army Staff Sergeants tell me that we were “the best looking people they had seen in a year.” I'm sure I will feel the same way when the time comes to leave.

The trip down here was far more interesting than our trip to Bagram Airfield (or BAF as it is known in the acronym crazy military), mainly because we were in smaller military aircraft going to more remote parts of the country.

We left BAF for a FOB (forward operating base) in the Afghan country side. Knowing we were going an Army FOB, I had prepared myself for a considerable lower standard of living than we had at BAF. However, to my shock I personally found the FOB to be nicer than what we had left in Bagram. There we fewer people, better dinning facilities, nice gym/athletic facilities, much better showers and more MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) computer access. I found myself getting pretty comfortable even if I was sleeping in a circus tent, on a cot, with 30 other guys.

After a few days there we loaded in to helicopters and headed to our final destination, Gardez. It is here that I found out that all FOBs are not created equal. I wouldn’t say that Gardez is bad, especially knowing that a lot of the Army lives worse than this in Afghanistan, but you would never find more than the few Air Force guys that are on my team in a place like this. However, my room is large and I plan on making this place as much like home as I can for the next few months.

I’m looking forward to getting out on some missions and helping with the reconstruction of this beautiful country. Feel free to email and will respond to those as I can, in the meantime I will continue to post.

Thank you and God bless.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally in Afghanistan

After a few days of travel I have finally arrived in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The trip was long and included an overnight stop at Manas Airbase in Kyrgyzstan, which has to be one of the more beautiful places the US military is currently deployed. Manas is just outside the city of Bishkek, and the surrounding area seemed to be nice and rural and was framed by gorgeous snow covered mountains. The base exemplified the Air Force’s easy living, even in deployed locations, with a 24-hour dining hall, night club where Air Force members can have two beers and a coffee shop with an internet cafĂ©. A standard four month Air Force deployment to there would have been more like a vacation.

I am currently at Bagram Airfield north of Kabul. It’s a little less cushy here, but you can still tell the Air Force is here with nice dining halls, two PX’s (mini Wal-marts) and a few coffee shops. However, the area surrounding the base is definitely not as welcoming, with the fine dust all over the place, huge jagged mountains, beating sun and not to mention the Taliban still running around. With that said the natural beauty of the mountains is amazing. Just as soon as we got off the plane, all the guys were snapping pictures and remarking at how awesome the mountains are. I will post some pictures in the days to come, but I’m sure they won’t do it justice.

On a much more serious note, the first day we were here we were awakened in the middle of the night to attend a Fallen Comrade ceremony. The very somber occasion was for two Polish soldiers that were killed in an IED attack. A ceremony like that, on the first night, helps keep it in perspective that we are very much in a war zone.

I will be here for a while before moving out to my all Army run Forward Operating Base and will update everyone as I can.