Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept 20 0800

Afghan border crossing station near Tajiik border. Securing borders around the country is increasingly important to stem the flow of insurgents and weapons from adjacent countries, specifically, Pakistan and Iran. Both countries help supply arms and insurgents used to KILL AMERICAN, NATO, AND AFGHAN TROOPS.
      Author preparing for convoy.

Sept 20 0600

Flag pavilion at Mazir I Sharif. Hindu Kush range beyond. The north side of this mountain range is void of trees and appears like sand when view from above. More likely however, it is a combination of dirt, sand, and dust just like where I am standing.
       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.  

Sept 19 2200

Norwegian volleyball area at rec center, post office, at Camp Marmal near Mazar I Sharif. Primarily German run base with small US contingent. NATO countries there include Norway, Sweden, Croatia and a hand full of others.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sept 13 2011 2130

Early morning photo of flag pavilion at Kabul International Airport. I am passing through on my way to Mazir I Sharif on this 10th anniversary of 9/11  I learn later that day that the Haqqani  (Taliban allied) network had staged an attack on the US embassy leaving scores dead. Yet another in a series of well orchestrated attacks on Kabul. No Americans lives were lost but there were 5 ANA soldiers killed as well as 11 civilians. The US is looking at Pakistan again as a source of shelter and support for this powerful terrorist organization. The Haqqani network is seen as a major player in the struggle for power in the west and south and has a relationship with the Taliban but with different goals. This group headed by a former mujahedin Jallaludden Haqqani is known for it's particularly violent methods including beheading and use of suicide bombers. A former Taliban minister, he and his son fight along side (sort of) Taliban and Hekmatyar networks for a slice of whatever power arrangement comes out of this war. Haqqani's use of foreign jihadists puts him at risk of alienating himself from his countrymen, the same mistake made my al Qaeda in Iraq. The Taliban, run by Omar works hard to portray themselves as a home grown organization.
      The embassy is not located in the airport but in the town of Kabul. There is a cluster of bases located in and around Kabul. These bases are ultra high security not unlike green zones in Iraq. Up-armored buses called rhinos are used for transport between bases, airport and embassy building. The capitol will always be prime target for these types of attacks as various insurgent groups struggle for relevance.

Sept 8 2130

Street hockey rink at Kandahar boardwalk. Games between different divisions and countries are played here nightly. Very competitive. The boardwalk area is roughly square with walkway, sports areas, dedication ceremony areas and various memorials placed around the perimeter. NATO base and home to at least a dozen countries bases supporting the war effort.

Sept 6 1800

View of contractor housing at Kandahar, these containerized units are built out and stacked up, occasionally with forethought but just as likely random and without plans for expansion. I am happy to have them for housing, they are quiet and dark when sleep is needed. Hard sides are nice to have.
TGIF at Kandahar boardwalk. It is true, I ate there and was waited on and served my food at my table. High point in August.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5 1300

I am in Kandahar this week to meet my friend David. We are doing layout for overhead power on a border base. I feel like this place is the end of the earth with soaring daytime temperatures and dust so thick it obscures the sun at midday. Kandahar is a NATO base home to some 30k folks fighting the war on terror. Besides being fit for neither man nor beast, it is also the birthplace of the Taliban (long since routed from power here). Even so, many call this place home including a fair number of ISI employees. I am thankful for those that serve and work here, the conditions are extreme. The photo above is the camp we live in, stacked conex structures with a courtyard in the middle similar to the SeaTac Marriot.