Friday, April 15, 2005

SecDef

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What do you do if your boss’s, boss’s, boss’s showed up during lunch time? I went to see what he was up to and it was the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visit to see the ground truth here in Kandahar. What ever you think of him, you got to admire his intestinal fortitude. How many corporate executives do you know have traveled half way around the world to speak to and answer questions from the floor workers in a war zone? Not many, I bet. Also another thing about SecDef Rumsfeld was that he had a pretty small staff with him compared to his corporate counterparts.

Attendance to his conference was voluntary and to get a seat in the Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tent you had to show up an hour before. I was there 30 minutes and I was on the back benches. After that it was standing room only.

As he walked in and every soldier, marine, sailor and air force personnel got on their feet and gave him a standing ovation. He started by reenlisting 11 soldiers for more years of duty.

Then he gave us a speech on the progress that the US Military has done in Afghanistan. He said we have delivered the citizens of Afghanistan from the terror of the Taliban and gave them hope after years of Soviet occupation. He said that Afghanistan may not have the oil or water riches of Iraq, but the greatest resource that Afghanistan was its people. The Afghans never embraced the extreme Islamic beliefs and it shows that in three years after America came to liberate them that the Taliban is broken and will be totally defeated. There is no real suicide bomber problem in Afghanistan, because that concept is alien to the Afghan culture.

After those comments, he told of SFC Smith who brave acts was recognized with a Medal of Honor and what his wife said at the reception for her husband. It was inspiring.

A few of us was waiting for the Q and A section of his appearance, because they are never boring. Rumsfeld answered the questions with wit and honesty. When he could not answer a question from an infantry Private about the projected delivery date of the new XM-8 rifle he deferred to General Bouno to give an answer. How many times have you seen a CEO of a fortune 500 company be honest enough to say “I don’t know” and ask one of his experts to answer instead of putting the spin on it and looking stupid?

This went on for 15 minutes. The last question was a humdinger. The Corporal asked why his Father and Grandfather never seen any good news about Afghanistan in the media and what could SecDef Rumsfeld could do about it? Rumsfeld stood there, asked for the Corporal to repeat his question, and then quipped “do you think I control the media?” I busted out laughing with the rest of the audience. He said that all of us should keep emailing everybody home with our achievement here in Afghanistan and the American people has a built-in media filter the negative news that is persuasive through the dumbed down media that is built for the lowest common denominator.


After that he left the stage and posed for photos for 30 minutes. All ranks stood and waited patiently for their turn to be photographed with the SecDef. I was struck by how genially patient he was to stand will everybody for photos. His personal security detachment was slowly nudging him to his vehicle so he could fly out of KAF. After that it was back to our military duties.

Quote: There are worst things in life than death.

Update: Here is the official Transcript of the town hall meeting with the troops. Go ahead, read it yourself.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Lunch, news and quote.

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I used to complain about the army food years ago. Remember the good old green eggs and ham in a can from the c-rats? Skim the grease off the tuna? Doesn’t that bring back fond memories? This ain’t our daddy’s army now and it shows in the DFAC. One reason is that Kellogg, Brown and Root(KBR) has the contract for food now, there are no army cooks in the DFAC. Other day, I had veal and lasagna for lunch and lobster and crab legs for dinner. Think of very good or first class airline food. Here is an image of curry chicken (for our British allies) and cordon bleu that I had for lunch yesterday. I know it is not as good at the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), but what do you want when you are out in the sticks?

Also this post is to test out my ability to post images. Image shack will not load properly, so I am giving photbucket a try.

News for this week in Afghanistan.

Quote: I am just the mouth piece and he is the figure head.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

flying around and quote

I am sorry for not writing lately. I basically inherited a cluster f_k of a mess from my predecessor and I am now able to keep my head above the water to see what is going on.

One of the more interesting things I did recently was to fly around to get a feel of the situation and see the ground. A lot of the terrain in Afghanistan is mined and that is why I did not drive or walk it. The Soviets and Taliban used mines like we used toilet paper. That is why American soldiers are told not to throw candy into fields when children swarm around convoys, a kid may get a limb blown off while looking for candy in a field. So I flew around some areas that I thought that US forces might have to show more “love” to.

Before taking off the crew chief conducted a pre-flight brief and inspection: body armor, weapon, helmet, ear plugs, ect….Then when into detail on how to egress the bird if it had took hostile fire or auto-rotated. I auto-rotated once and it sucked. Basically auto-rotation is a controlled crash or landing with great velocity. It is better than any ride at Disney World. Then he asked me what we do if there was an engine fire while taxing. I told him that he would flip the fire suppression system on and I would get the f--k out quickly. That got a chuckle.

After baking in the bird while waiting our turn to turn to taxi, because transports were taking off or other helos were landing, we started to go down the runway to take off. One of the door gunners was fooling with his M-60 machine gun and then I hear over my headset that he dropped part of a belt of ammo on to the runway. Shit. Do you know what FOD is? FOD is Foreign Object Debris that can cause aircraft engine damage. It is one thing for an engine to suck a rock or pebble in to an engine, but a 7.62 bullet would ruin your day. So we started to hover around looking for ammo on the ground. That was fun and then I asked the pilot how long are we going to spend looking for bullets? After that question he called the tower explained what happened and requested a runway cleaner to vacuum the suspected area.

After that we flew around with our GPS, cameras and maps to get acquainted with our new playground.

Quote: I have no problem on who kills who.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Water, diference, and home

Bottle water is one of the most important items here. Without it, life would suck. When you are brushing your teeth you can not rinse your tooth brush or mouth with the water that comes out of the tap or you risk getting sick or worse. But I was advised if I drink too much mineral water I could develop kidney stones, so to avoid that discomfort, I should drink the near or non-alcoholic beer that is sold in the PX. Supposedly this will help the kidneys move the mineral build up.

The real difference between Europe and America: http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/02/23/do2302.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/02/23/ixopinion.html

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/afghanistan/kandahar_afld.htm
This will be home for me

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Engagement, source, toilet, strategy and quote

I just met an old colleague at the DFAC and when I showed up he was talking about an engagement he was in. It sounded intense and I was thinking he was lucky to make it out alive until he said that he save the game and went to a brief. After that I asked what the hell the talking about until he told me about playing a game on his personal computer and they are hooked up to a wireless LAN in the tents. Many troops play video games to relax. Over at the Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tent soldiers can borrow an X-box and video games to hook up to a TV. Then it is time to blast away. May be at the end of this deployment I will be able to hold my own in HALO 2.

Here is a great source of information on Afghansitan: http://www.figureconcord.com/ublog/archives/cat_afghan_liberty.html

Some more proof that the Taliban is going down the toilet. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7598_1302625,000500020005.htm

The article outlines the strategy (http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2005/03/al-qaedas-grand-strategy.html) of al Queda. It is pretty good since they are thinking real long term, but we are too, at least the military is. Are you? It is your children’s future that AQ wants.

Quote: you are special just like everyone else.

Note: when Blogger's page for inputting new post loads, it is only a partial load and the buttons to embed hyper links does not load. That is why I am putting the URLs in the post so you can cut and paste. Hey, Blogger, why not a text only page?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gym

I lift and work out every morning when possible and the gym here at KAF it is one of the most testosterone and macho gym in the world. Where in the United States would put your machine gun or rifle in a storage rack when entering? That is just a safety rule for the gym. Most people who lift or run in the gym wear the Army Physical Fitness Uniform or the black shorts with the unit t-shirt. All the shirts have units crest with mottos like “aces of death”, “killer engineers”, or “death dealers.” While lifting today the music was from late ‘90s early 00’s heavy metal of Godsmack or Ramstien and on the big screen the TV was showing Russell Crow in “Gladiator.” Most people stopped when Russell killed an opponent by hacking his head off with two swords. You know the scene. A couple of soldiers said “cool” or that the way to kill some one. Then it was back to lifting. I think Arnold S. would approve.