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Checking The Checkpoint

| March 19th, 2012 | 15 Comments »

Share Mentoring can be a hoot. The incidents of the past few weeks, little helpful things done by my fellow Soldiers, have made life a bit more… interesting. I mean that in the Confucian sense. That being said, my mentee is a Hajji, having returned from the obligatory pilgrimage only a few months ago. He is a literate, committed Muslim. His viewpoint on the Quran burning was summed up with, “We have illiterate people in our society, too.” He assumed that such ignorance of Afghan values could only come from illiteracy. I didn’t burst his bubble. Part of mentoring is going where your mentee goes. COL Shiripir* and I were having a conversation about going about his normal business while I am with him. I was beginning to feel like he felt that he had to treat me as a special guest and that this perception was keeping him from

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The Streets Of An Afghan City

| March 14th, 2012 | 12 Comments »

Share This was shot days after the Quran burning at Bagram. For us, it was a normal day of commuting to work with our Afghan counterparts. I’ve been trying to upload this video for about a week, and I finally got it to go. It’s over 5 minutes long, so there is lots to look at. It was originally shot in 720p high definition, but I think perhaps some of the hi went out of the def when I uploaded it. This is just a part of the experience. Happy I could share it.

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Random Pictures

| March 4th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Share I’ve had numerous requests for more pictures, so let’s see what we can do… For some reason, this version of WordPress only allows three sizes of pictures, and the largest winds up cutting the picture up.  Each of these can be downloaded to see much more detail.   My camera is a five year old HP Photosmart on its third tour, but it’s got the most effective anti-shake of anything I’ve seen, so I keep using it even though three tours in a grenade pouch has made it cranky and temperamental. There is a lot of really interesting architecture in Mazaar-e Sharif. Afghans have a strong sense of aesthetics. It may not always jibe with our own… take jingle trucks, for example. But it is a sense of aesthetics, and sometimes the results can be very interesting. Every Afghan city is a kaleidoscope of styles, from traditional mud and straw

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The Feeling And The Sensing

| February 29th, 2012 | 7 Comments »

Share This blog is about the experience, and part of the experience is feeling it.  I can relate to readers the way that it feels to be cold, I can relate to readers how it feels to crunch across gravel on the camp.  I can try to relate how it feels to sit and converse with my Afghan counterpart.  I can try to relate how it feels to ride in an MRAP through the streets of Mazar-e Sharif, the feeling of earphones and body armor, viewing the normal world of Afghans through armored slats and thick glass as we do our little part to influence their Border Police to make their lives better, safer and more stable so that we can have that at home, too. How does one convey the feeling of being seven thousand miles from home while two countries go mad?   I swear, it feels as

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Still Here

| February 25th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Share Just wanted to post and say, “I’m still here.”   I’m fine.  We have been locked down in the wake of the Quran burnings at Bagram.   I’ve read news articles about the events, the comments on American news outlets that allow them and monitored emails from friends.  All I can say is that the atmosphere on both sides is disturbing. We were at the Zone headquarters when we got the news, and I thought it had to be a joke, because no one would do something that stupid, would they?  I mean, it’s only been less than a year since that nimrod in Florida burned a Quran on YouTube and people died over it.  Of all the things that you could do in Afghanistan that would cause unnecessary death, this is one that is a proven winner. It wasn’t a joke.   And it’s not a joke.  

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Some Days You’re The Monkey…

| February 23rd, 2012 | No Comments »

Share … some days you’re the pig.

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Every Time I Think…

| February 20th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Share … that I’ve seen everything, Afghanistan surprises me again.   Today is the worst day, weather-wise, that I’ve ever seen in Afghanistan.  On my first tour, it rained on me a grand total of six times.   On my second tour, which was 15 months long, it rained enough to surprise me.  I even got rained on several times in Helmand.   I think it has rained about 50% of the time that I’ve been here this time.   Before yesterday, we had several nice, dry days.  A couple of them would qualify for beautiful days. Yesterday, all that came to a needle-across-the-record stop.   The morning was warm.  I was actually over-dressed a little while I was over working with the Afghans.  In the Chief of Staff’s office, I shed my jacket because I was actually sweating.   Later in the afternoon, it started to rain.  It has

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Musings On A Holiday

| February 17th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Share Most probably know this, but Friday in Afghanistan is like Sunday in the United States.   It’s the day when shops and businesses are closed, when many people go to the Mosque to worship.   We on the team use Fridays for getting caught up on planning, administrative details, logistical issues and so on.  It’s a light day, but we usually schedule some sort of training for sometime in the day.   This week was unusually light because of an Afghan holiday celebrating the day in 1989 that the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan. The Soviets had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 15,000 Soviet troops lost their lives. I have stood on ground walked upon by Soviets before me.  Not by Brezhnev or Gorbachev, but by soldiers who were doing their jobs.  I have seen sites where some of them suffered the worst days of their lives.  I have seen

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Concertina Sunset

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Today's sunset from Marmal.  Probably looks better if you download it.


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On A Clear Day

| February 15th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

Share It’s been cold a lot here in Mazar-e Sharif (MeS, pronounced, “mez” in the shorthand of English-speakers in Afghanistan).   On my first tour, I think I got rained on a grand total of six times.   On my second tour, there was a lot more rain.  I even got rained on a few times in Helmand.   I think we have had precipitation of one sort of another at least half the days I’ve been in country so far. For water availability year-round, it’s more important to have snow stay on the mountains, especially where I have been before.  In Kapisa, there were mountains that held snow right up to the beginning of July.  The mountains around here seem to be just as massive, but lower in elevation overall.  The snow on the mountains right here near MeS doesn’t seem to stay much longer than the snow on

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