Friday, December 30, 2011
Hundreds of NATO and US soldiers have died this year, ten times that many insurgents. Unfortunately there were many innocent Afghan lives lost, 16 killed last week by suicide bomber after attending funeral services. dozens more injured. On the positive side, Karzai is still alive, I am afraid much hope depends on his leadership and survival.
After years of training, Afghan troops have, in some cases, fought back when under attack. That was hardly the case one year ago and it feels like their rate of success is improving. Small villages that lived under Taliban rule have found freedom and with the help of the US armed forces, now have irrigation, bridges, schools and hope. The articles are run weekly in Stars and Stripes and are uplifting. Day by day we are improving the lives of regular people. The Kabul Stadium was re-opened last week to much fanfare, another reason for hope and a radical departure from the Taliban's use as a showcase for public executions. Two weeks ago the country's first railway opened, the first ever piece to the longest missing link in Asian trade. Women's rights are being discussed with the central government, unthought of two years ago. All this in a country where women are seen as property and girls schools sought out and burned by the previous regime. The US has done much wrong in Afghanistan, most notably, pulling out after the start of the Iraq war. If no one else notices, what I see is resolve. Resolve to stay until the mission is accomplished and we make up for walking away 8 years ago, leaving villages to be slaughtered by Taliban. Atonement perhaps.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
A co-worker heading towards the scene of a rocket attack sparked fire. Stubbs manages the overhead grid on base. Not your typical service call in the states, fairly normal here. These guys are on call 24/7 and manage the entire grid system. Generally power outages are a result of large cranes hitting the overhead lines. No driver licensing requirements here.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
The 1000kw gensets associated with this service have 48 cables in each plus grounding conductors. At $50/foot the 1500 feet laying here begin to add up. Panels, cable, and much of what you see installed here arrives by 747 freighter. The cost just to ship a 1500 pound reel of cable is staggering. Costs include army security, and contracting oversight, each part and piece is handled 10 times before it is installed. One 747 round trip is over $1m.
One structure of 400 on one base of 740. This is a tiny piece of the expenses in this country. Lets not forget about the bases in the former Russia, Kuwait, UAE, Dubai, Germany, and Turkey. The list goes on and on. It is staggering. Re-fueling tankers fly 24/7 overhead.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
|Serious about security in the south|
|Friendly stray on COP. These "pets" are discouraged, many carry rabies.Yikes|
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Images from Base Kandahar Bazar. Spread out across 5 acres, this draws everyone interested in knockoffs, rugs, cigarettes, hooka pipes, stones, jems, brassware, linens and bongos. I love coming here and will miss it when I return to the north. The vendors are a combination of quirky, persistent, pushy, fun and funny. Haggling is expected and a delight to watch and practice. 102 today.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Preparing for a convoy with SSGT Manjarrez. After a little joking around he tires of it and tells me "drop down and give me twenty, slacker you are not ready for todays army". Clearly I am not. Preparation for convoy and lineup prior to departure. 2 hours to Kunduz. I am seeing some of the most desolate and bizarre scenery to date. We drive through villages where you could easily imagine Moses walking down the street. Except for the armed ANA soldiers.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Author preparing for convoy.
Photo below of existing generators being removed from a new power plant. This is the type of work ISI typically does at military bases. As an assessor, I travel to bases and put together asbuilt drawings for estimates prior to the installation. It is a great position and I really enjoy doing this.