Hooch EOD And My Third First MissionOld Blue | Saturday, February 11th, 2012 | 4 Comments »
The last several days have been sort of a blur, and there has been little time to write when I wasn’t too tired to actually do it. The RSOI training was okay. The IED training was worthwhile, even if the only real new news was the tendencies in the RC North. Getting a chance to check the zero on the weapon is always time well spent.
Many team-related things needed to be shaken-out. Plans have been changed by reality, so there were realignments and modifications. I’m happy with how that shook out, but again, it took time. There is always the setting up of email accounts and user access; yay.
Then there were the environmental issues. We are in Alaska tents (named after the manufacturer), in a sub-compound of the larger American zone at the German-run base at Marmal, which is in the Mazar-e Sharif area of northern Afghanistan. Inside the Alaska tents we have plywood cubicles of about 6×8 feet. I have one of those. Of course, the standard bunk beds are the order of the day. Mattresses are of local manufacture, and are more like box springs than mattresses… minus the actual box, so they have a little lateral slip. The lower bunk of the bunk bed in my “hooch” had a mattress with fabric that said, “Love For You,” on it. Repeatedly.
It was charming. It was also quite busted.
Fortunately, there was another mattress that, while having a little lateral slip and a total lack of any expression of affection for me personally, is fairly firm. My kingdom for a twin size futon mattress!
There was no other furniture, and someone had parked an extra mattress in my hooch, which rendered useless more space than it actually occupied. Very shortly, it looked as if several duffel bags had exploded in a plywood box, and total chaos reigned. Yesterday was Friday, which is like Sunday for Afghans. That meant that we have a “slow tempo” day, allowing me some time to make a few improvements. I was starting to feel as if I were living in a bowl of mismatched socks and mixed cold weather gear.
The bottom bunk is now gone. The two extra mattresses are now gone, and I managed to locate a standing cabinet along the lines of a closet. The empty space under the bunk is now something of a small workspace. I’m using my Gorilla Box (plastic PX-bought footlocker) as a makeshift desk and using a chair with no frame as a basket for my butt. There is a dearth of folding chairs here, save for the overpriced wonders of engineering at the Norwegian PX. (No, I’m not spending 40 Euros for a folding chair, Sven.) Gets a little old on the knees, but I can sit for a while and type, I think.
Still have to work some issues like building shelves and so on, but the screws I scavenged and drove into the plywood wall to hang hats and jackets on are helping quite a bit. After shelves, I’m ready for the window treatments!
Just kidding; I don’t have windows.
I do have the luxury of a couple of area rugs. It’s all so… civilized. You know what isn’t civilized? ”Three minute combat showers.”
They are every bit as unpleasant as they sound. They are one of the main reasons why no one should ever join the Navy, and I’m stuck taking them in Afghanistan. Not with the Navy, just way too much like them for my comfort. Love the Navy, just don’t want to shower like them (and don’t understand why anyone would choose that as a lifestyle willingly). The water is hot, and you are allowed three liters of it to shower in. It’s like only eating one of those things that no one can eat just one of. As I said; uncivilized.
It’s kind of a high-class problem to have, because we have some guys out there who don’t have access to showers. It’s still uncivilized and not what you’d expect on a good-sized installation.
Today we went out to work with the Afghans. It was actually pretty productive. Some of the guys have been working with them for several weeks, but I just got to meet one of the Afghan officers whom I will be helping. Good guy; focused. When I asked him what he thought we could do for him, he didn’t ask me for stuff; he asked for training. Reasonable training. Productive, sustainable training for the soldiers, and to train trainers to keep the skills after we have gone.
I’ll post pictures to match this post tomorrow. Right now we’re having bandwidth problems and I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open again.