Sunday, May 22, 2005

Running, Jingle truck

Sometime when I have a spare hour I will run early in the morning or early evening. I used to run a lot, but running here offers many special challenges that I would not encounter back home. Since there are no paved roads or sidewalks here, you share them with John Deere Gators, Humvees, Jingle trucks, construction equipments and other vehicles. So you are sucking a lung full of dust. If you stray off the roads you can end up in a minefield and that is not good for your health. Also since none of the roads are paved they are covered with gravel. Not the small stuff, but big rocks, the size of golf balls. With the small rocks or big gravel I have to be careful not to sprain ankle or go on profile for a week in the sick, lame and lazy section. Now I am learning to love the treadmills now.


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Monday, May 16, 2005

Smoke and sunset

So Newsweek is blowing smoke . You might think big deal while reading this and drinking your morning cup of coffee or whatever, but for us (US military and coalition forces) life became infinitely harder and more dangerous . More here and here. If a soldier is killed at a riot or rocket attack based on this faulty reporting, will Newsweek standup, take the blame and pay a financial penalty for a wrongful death suit? I know the blame goes on the terrorists who are fanning the flames by broadcasting propaganda from mosques PA systems, but where did they get their information from? A bogus Newsweek report. So thanks a lot Newsweek for making our life so much easier. I hope the reporter who wrote the great piece of fiction goes on a patrol with US Forces and see what he has wroth. So Mark you want to join the party that you started?

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Sunset in Kandahar.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Money and fun

Some say that money makes the world go around and sometimes I agree. Here there are two forms of money. There is the good old Greenback, or more commonly known as the United States Dollar. Then there is the Eagle cash or money that a soldier takes out of their paycheck and put in a rechargeable debit card that has a smart chip. Therefore a soldier will not have to carry cash to buy toiletries, the latest Jayzee CD, the Bourne Supremacy on DVD, munchies, local trinkets, copies of Maxim, or items that catches their eye. Even the change comes back in pogs of 25 or 50 cents, because pennies, nickels, and dimes cost more to handle or count than they are worth.

Do you know who like the buck, dead presidents or dollar? The local Afghan merchant. On Saturdays when the local bazaar is held, dollars are exchanged for Niam carpets, pirated DVD, Marlboro cigarettes made in Korea, antique Lee Enfield rifles and other trinkets. The Afghan merchant is a related to merchant at the old town square of yesterday who know his latest high tech toys and DVD releases. Soon the Afghani (local currency) will be the money of choice since the dollar will not be allowed at the bazaar soon.

Guess who knows a little more about money than the publicly held image? The US soldier. Right now I know some who are speculating in currency. There is talk that the Afghani will go up in value after the national parliamentary election that will guarantee IMF loans and more aid from the international community. So some troops are playing the market. Also with so many troops based in Europe, they are hedging bets that the Euro will loose value after the French reject the EU constitution. That is where the smart money is. Trust the low ranking troop. He or she sees the ground truth and is betting a down payment on a Mercedes or Harley on it.

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This is a small sample of how you can have fun in Afghanistan..

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Respect, read, image, quote, and note

Not so long ago on a sunny morning, the remains of a Romanian soldier were flown back to his country. At first light a Romanian C-130 was on the ramp waiting. A company plus formation of American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Air Force personnel stood waiting to pay their respects to this Romanian soldier who was part of the coalition forces. The soldier was killed when his vehicle hit a mine or IED that was emplaced by the Taliban or al Qaeda forces.

Then the Romanian battalion marched on to the ramp facing the American contingent, with a truck holding the casket of the soldier draped with the Romanian flag with the American flag at the foot of the coffin.

Music was played and it was a slow dredge then the Chaplin from the Romanian Army said a prayer in Romanian that sound like a Gregorian chant. A twenty one gun salute was given by the Romanian Battalion. After that a procession that was lead with a large orthodox cross, then a photo of the dead soldier was carried by two of his fellow soldiers, the leadership of the battalion, an honor guard carrying the casket, and last was his squad mates. As the casket was carried by all the Romanian and American soldiers showed respect to the fallen soldier by rendering a salute until the whole procession passed by and the casket was loaded on the C-130.

After that both armies left the ramp, went to parade rest, the cargo airplane started its engines then taxied down the runway and took off.

What was surprising that there were a few civilian contractors were also paying their respect to a fallen comrade. We are all the same to the Taliban- people who are helping to bring Afghanistan to the 21st century.

Does Islam improve Christianity? Read and make your own decision.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Stacking weapons while waiting for a pizza.

Quote: β€œIt might develop into a JDAM party.”

Note: There are lots of great events and operations going on, but due to OPSEC, I will not be blogging about those.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Time, accessorize, ride and quote

All military uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in Afghanistan. One of the weird things that about being deployed to Afghanistan is that the local time is four and half hours a head of GMT. Just like in London. So I get up a 1:00Z and eat breakfast by 2:00Z and the day rolls by. It takes a week or two to get used to, but I carry a cheat sheet with both local and Zulu time next to each other, so when I talk to Afghans I can convert their time zone to Zulu or GMT.

What holster should I accessorize with my pistol? I had an issue to deal with. What type of pistol holster would I use? One school of thought was to use a modern version of the old western gun slinger that is held into place hanging off the hip and strapped off the thigh. One disadvantage is that I would loose the use on one cargo pocket on my pants or when I ride in a helicopter or other vehicle it can be hard to pull out while sitting.

So what is my other choice is? Get one that hangs off my shoulder. That is better, but when worn with IBA or Individual Body Armor it can hard to access when needed. Also the straps can dig into your shoulders when not wearing IBA. This is one dilemma that I will have to experiment to solve.

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One of the M-998's that that is around here.
Quote: Do you want to get PUC'ed?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Apology, image, feel and quote

I am sorry not writing for the past week or two or three. It has been busy with a unit leaving and a new one coming in. We had to explain what is going on, how to improve the situation with a list of resources that are needed. Some times our suggestions were taken other times they were not.

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Here is an image of the happiest group of soldiers in Afghanistan. They are going home.

One of the factors that give this place a frontier feel is the abundance of shipping containers or military connexes all over the place. They were filled with military equipment, but now they are used for different functions from temporary offices, platforms for satellite dishes or holding electrical generators. The most interesting thing that some of them have the logos of divisions, brigades or battalions who were past tenants. The mottos that are scribed on are sometimes funny.

Quote: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself" -- John Stuart Mill