Monday, June 4, 2012

June 2 2300

My friend Bill with the bounty of Bagram. In a country full of tomatoes, the only way to get a vine ripened one is to grow it yourself. Call me when they ripen Bill, I'll catch the first thing smoking.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 1 2300

On the way out of dodge, my last night in Dubai. 0100 departure for Amsterdam.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

May 31 2200

My friends David and Tony on the way to RR. Two of my favorite friends. I'll miss you both!

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 2030

Sunset at Bagram. My demob date is May 31 which will mark 16 months in theater.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 1950

Unfinished mansion on a hill in Kabul. No sign of life here during a fly by and who knows what halted progress on this magnificent structure. Security possibly, a warlord whose stolen cash source had run dry, or, the owners assassination. All possible. A city where, in spite of NATO's best effort and all the money coalition forces can throw at it, it seems no more safe than it was two years ago. Today, NATO coalition members meet in Chicago to decide in part the fate of this conflict. Locally, that meeting was celebrated by an Islamic "Holy Warrior" martyring himself at a police checkpoint. Identified as Abdul Haq, he was successful in killing ten including two children, seven civilians, and 3 police officers. Innocent civilians deaths are an acceptable loss for militants in this conflict.
       In other Islamic militant attacks, 90 killed today in Yemen at a military parade. Al Qaeda claimed responsiblity for the suicide bombing. Fifty five dead in Damascus suicide bombings last week, a sign that al Qaeda may have infliltrated the conflict.
       In an unrelated event, the Lockerbie bomber passed away in Libya,  family members of the 270 victims do not mourn his passing.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19 0700

Perimeter wall. The sniper fencing is missing where it was burned in the Quran riots.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 Norwegian independence day

Gratulerer med dagen. Photo courtesy of Roger Kopperstad.

May 17 0630

May 17 0615

One of many bomb shelters on camp. Located near housing and places of assembly, these provide protection from incoming. Hesco containers seen on top are collapsable wire mesh baskets with a fabric lining. Filled with sand, dirt, or rock, tens and hundreds of thousands line base perimeters, shelters and housing to provide a barriers for troop protection. Seen here placed on top of ISO containers.

May 16 2120

Flag pavilion at Camp Phoenix.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 15 1820

Once the incoming sounds off or after an actual incoming, we are required to take shelter in a hardened facility. It is important to know which facilities are hardened.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 14 2110

          Ol' glory flies everywhere you go.
 I love it!

May 12 1830

My friend Tredederia Runner and I at Camp Phoenix, Kabul. Temperatures today in the mid 70s with all quiet on the western front. Kabul security is challenging and the name is synonomous with random violence like car bombs, IEDs, and suicide bombers in crowded markets. As often as not, it is indiscriminate and random with innocent victims of all ages. It feels unmanageable and with roads often being black (unsecured and not passable), the security is left to ANA and ANP. Normal diplomatic movement is limited.
      Nine civilians were killed in a market bomb attack in the Ghormuch district today. Yesterday, a member of the High Peace Council was assassinated in Kabul. The former Taliban government official was involved in peace negotiations. He was shot in broad daylight while traveling through the capitol in his car. Two British soldiers were shot and killed in the Helmand province on Saturday. It was determined that the shooters were Afghan National Army Soldiers. Another insider shooting similar to many this year accounting for over ten percent of the lives lost by coalition forces. US Army losses can average one per day during the fighting season, a grim remimder that the war here is far from over.

May 14 1915

No way to prove it, but according to Kassman, this is an Afghan cow. Seen here in an urban setting.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12 1800

Sunrise shot of the valley north of Kabul with view facing toward Hindu Kush range. Lush green farms after a particularly cold and wet winter. Rotary flight to Kabul this morning, one of my last trips before I demob at the end of the month. The things I have seen and the friends I have made, it has been an unbelievable experience with many highs and many lows,  not much in between. One of the few landscape images I am able to post with most of my time either spent either inside the wire, armored vehicle, C130 transport, or here in a helicopter. Unlike soldiers who work out there, the majority of contractors are tightly managed and kept in a protective bubble.

May 11 0615

The week's high point, two ply. Thank you Tovar Camp.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 7 2210

Incinerators at work on the base. There are no landfills here so waste created on the base is incinerated. Two of many, these handle 150,000 plastic drinking bottles a day plus everything else you can imagine. Metals are cut up at a scrap yard sent off base to be reused. Wood scrap is recycled where possible. The burn area is thankfully situated down wind from most base activities but that is not always the case. In Kabul there is an incinerator located close enough that I developed a migrane headache that lasted until the wind changed direction (killed a few brain cells that week). Lord knows what they were burning, plastic bottles I was told. I assume the local population has little say about the placement of these subcontracted facilities.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 4 1845

View facing north at the airfield.

May 5 2100

Cain Ladner and Niko finished with a 300kVA transformer installation. This includes the primary and secondary conductors. Nice work!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 2 0600

Gathered to say goodbye to Josh Crawford (cowboy), we will miss you! LtoR
Bill, Tovar, Josh, Trey (F), Todd, Tony, author. Good friends and good times.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 1 2010

Current guard tower at perimeter. Nothing sophisticated here, several shipping containers stacked upon one another with a 360 degree elevated platform.

May 1 1950

Minefield with rusting tanker and former Soviet guard shack in background.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 1945

Another sink hole! Excavations by foreign contractors are not compacted, these surprises after a heavy rain are not unusual.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29 0630

Not your run of the mill elevated stuctures. All these roadways have elaborate detail, colored concrete, single pedestal support and feature uplighting that Walt Disney's architects could only have dreamed of.

April 28 2320

Dubai mall at fountain level with Burj podium and downtown in background.

April 28 2310

Image of the address and Dubai mall taken from the podium of the Burj Khalifa. The Burj complex built for an estimated $20 billion houses what is currently the worlds largest mall. Thousands sitting outside and dining tonight when this was taken around midnight.

April 28 2230

Night time view from the 129th floor of the Burj Khalifa tower. This view faces west over the Dubai mall (left), lake and fountains,  and the Dubai tower "The Address" which at 63 floors is dwarfed by the Burj.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 27 2230

Driver seat of MRAP.

April 27 2210

Another piece of equipment being shipped downrange. Hard to imagine the cost to ship a 10k capacity fork lift to theatre. These are used for material movement in one of 4 hubs managed by ISI. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 25 2020

Painting of a tranqil home setting in Afghanistsan. For sale at bazaar.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 24 1920

Eye in the sky at rest. Helium filled balloon with high resolution camera keeps and eye on things when we cannot. They are at work night and day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 23 1940

Image of the former Soviet control tower at Bagram. It no longer serves as a flight control tower, it's replacement was built by American forces within the last five years. Still, its a pretty cool structure.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 21 2200

Bagram Bazaar shop.

April 21 2130

Vendor at Bagram Bazaar

April 21 2130

April 21 2010

Bombed out ruins of mud hut structures next to the base. Largely abandoned, these are occasionally home to nomads and their herds. The areas around the base perimeter were mined by the Soviets  during their ten year occupation roughly 1980-1990.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 19 2130

Door of perception? In a way. This wall separates German and US compounds by not only nationality but also methods, principles, and ideals. The differences are stark in many ways. In an amusing show of gamesmanship, the Germans place a sign on the wall. As you entered the US side it said, in large letters,  "DISTRICT 9" referring to the movie of the same name where space aliens are interned in a South African work camp. All in fun.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17 0620

These two are being cared for by the ANA soldiers on the Afghan portion of base. IMHO things are generally rough and appear uncared for (by western standards) where the locals are left to their own. Most soldiers are simple villagers , unaccustomed to, and generally it seems, not interested in adopting western ways..

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16 1810

Afghan locals making deliveries on base.

April 15 0615

Plaque at Fob Fenty commemorating the victims of 9/11. The mountainous Tora Bora region near Jalalabad is where Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda planned attacks on the United States. There appears to be only splinters left of that organization now. The Taliban and Haqqani network are still active and they are the predominate threat to peace in the region.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 14 2000

Dutch camp in the north. Today may well have marked the beginning of the Spring Offensive by the Taliban. Accepting responsibility for multiple coordinated attacks, the group proves that they are still capable of attacking highly guarded diplomatic targets within the city. Civilian and diplomatic facilities were targeted by dozens armed with rpgs, automatice weapons and suicide vested attackers.