Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29 0630

Afghan General Store - FOB Fenty Jalalabad

Leap day 2012 0615

Base housing at Fenty. Much of it is BHUT and tents. Located about 100' off the tarmac, sleep is challenging at times. Rotary is often directly overhead and not much more than 100' in the air. Flying in pairs, chinook, blackhawk, apache and commercial birds leave walls and doors shuddering from the wash. It is endless at times ( at least seems like it!).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28 0645

Fuel trucks burning at JAF. These were destroyed by protesters at the Entrance Control Point. The base is now out of mogas, non-diesel equipment is momentarily silent. Shipments are no longer routed through Pakistan and must travel northern routes from several of the former Soviet republics. Material deliveries require logistics personnel to regularly escort vehicles from the cool down yard onto the base and occasionaly sees them outside of the ECP. Photo courtesy of IBEW member George Barrett.

February 28 0615

Geneva Comite International

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27 2110

FOB Fenty is named for the serviceman who lost his life supporting OEF. Commonly referred to as Jalalabad Airport, this heavily armed base was the sight of a car bombing this morning that took the lives of 9 people, most of them locals. We will know tomorrow if the local labor that ISI employes were victims. The Taliban has acknowledged responsibility for this attack and calls it revenge for the Quran burning incident. Facing the explosion from 600 yards, the concussion wave is significant, my ears rang for an hour. Much of the x-ray screening equipment installed by our team was destroyed as was anything within 200 feet of the blast.

February 26 1930

STOL flight at the commercial terminal, JAF

February 26 1900

View facing west into Baglan valley where Bagram Airfield is located. I am on my way to Jalalabad Airfield and leaving this frozen place behind.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26 2015

Rhino transport vehicle previously used as for civilian movement in Kabul.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 25, 0530

  Quiet here after the initial uproar over the Quran burning incident at Bagram. Entrance control points are locked down which means that nothing enters or leaves the base. Similar security measures are in place on many bases particularly those in Kabul where violent reactions continue. Many killed there, primarily locals and Afghan police in clashes near bases and the presidential palace. Violent protest are taking place all over the country in a state where insurgents know how to tap into the frustration of locals often using their anger to fuel anti-American and anti- Karzai sentiment. Similar protests in Mazir I Sharif last year resulted in the killing of six NATO workers targeted by insurgent militia. In a formerly lawless state, maintaining order is a challenge and I feel for the local police tasked with it and hats off to them, it is new world they live in. My friends in Kabul feel the heat, travel in and around the city is difficult at best and now requires convoy support. Last week, an up armored suv was sufficient for a 3 mile drive. Today, safe houses are being burned as outrage spreads. The lock down prevents supplies of fuel or food and also, prevents re-supply of bases in outlying areas. Temperatures overnight at 12 F, daytime highs around freezing minimize the resistance.  View facing west from Bagram Airfield, the base of the mountains are around 10 miles away from us. Bagram elevation at 5000'.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21, 0600

It has been snowing for a month straight at Bagram. Daytime highs are generally around freezing or a little above. Nearly every where you go, the mud is ankle deep, month old ice below that. Like camping without beer.

February 20 2015

Containers being loaded for transit across country. ISI manages the material and equipment for electrical construction and repair theater wide. Contractors are paid as much as $5k to move a container up to 300 miles. It is high risk work but much less so than fuel delivery.

February 20 2015

Locals working a convoy still wear traditional Afghan clothing. To me it is nothing more than layers of sheets swadled about their heads and bodies.I have no idea how a single layer of thin cotton keeps a person warm, perhaps just a testament to how tough these folks are. Footwear is unbelievably light for these conditions. Gortex and microfiber have apparently not made their way into the market, as a rule, western wear is generally shunned.

February 20 2000

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7 0615

Chapel at Kandahar Air Field

February 7 0530

KAF is home to an A10 attack squadron. I laid awake last night listening to the 30mm Gatling gun just  beyond the base, the sound is unmistakable. It is an amazing fighter and plays a significant role here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5 2200

ISI employees at KAF, wiremen working in Regional Command West.
 Allen Harrison and Scott Fioravanti run the show

February 4 1500

Afghan National Army compound adjacent to combat outpost, south near Pak border. While US and Afghan army units fight together, their camps are generally separate. Lookout tower above.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 4 0615

Bazaar scene at KAF

February 4 0600

Bazaar security checkpoint. Weekly and daily base bazaars are a high profile target with several shut down after the suicide bomber made his way past layers of  checkpoints.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3 1730

Fuel lines are a direct result of shortages created by the closure of Pakistan border crossings. After needs for generators, planes, and military vehicles are fulfilled, contractors line up for a share.  The closure means that much of what was transported by ship to Pakistan and then trucked into Afghanistan is now being flown into theatre from alternate ports including India (salt in the wound for Pakistan) and the former Soviet republics. Costs have spiraled from $20M a month to over $100M for shipping. For the average person on base that often means doing without snack items, chips and candy are the first to go. To my knowledge, the only thing produced for troops, in Afghanistan is bottled water. The border closure is a result of the late November killing of 24 Pakistani troops by NATO forces. Poor communication on both sides is blamed for the unfortunate deaths. Pakistan is demanding an apology for the NATO action.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1 0545

This is an overview of troops in theater. Current count is much higher with OEF totals over 120,000.  The recent killing of four unarmed French troops by an ANA soldier has resulted in a push for early withdrawal by French politicians. NATO response is to stay with the current timeline through 2014. Some Europeans see Operation Enduring Freedom as support of US expansion, an opinion reinforced by the US involvement in Iraq, often seen as a war of choice in spite of the now discredited weapons intelligence.
        I think most folks back home are simply tired of Middle East war, unfortunately, it is complex and complicated.  In Qatar, a new "secret" series of talks planned between the US and Taliban. These are taking place without the Afghan president and AWAY from Pakistan and the ISI. President Obama, who showed his cards early when he decided on a 2014 withdrawal date (in hopes of winning office), needs to capitalize on the military's current position of power in this hoped for round of talks. In other words, announcing your exit strategy before negotiating a peace agreement is not a solid foundation, move quickly while OEF is at full strength. Without an peace agreement, insurgent forces will simply play a waiting game.