Thursday, October 2, 2008


Monday, January 12, 2004
Today was my first combat movement outside of the wire. We drove from our forward operating base (FOB) to a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) on the opposite side of the city of Kandahar. Our drive began on the dusty, poorly maintained road running into town. American Military vehicles seem to have the right-of-way and most everyone gets out of our way. We drive like maniacs, but we do so to avoid choke points and staying in kill sacks for an extended period of time. Many children ran up to the road and would wave at us, or give us the "thumbs-up" sign. The men mostly looked at us suspiciously. The poverty is unbelieveable... tents and mud huts with thatched roofs are commonplace, filth and garbage are rife. The drainage ditch along the road was a murky brown-green. The smell of shit was everywhere. I saw a few people, women I suspect, in burkhas. Some of the young girls I saw had scarves wrapped around their heads. I even passed the spot where a few days previously (Jan 5/6), some Taliban operatives placed some IEDs and something like 15 children were killed and roughly 40 more were injured.
I don't think I can ever again complain about my standard of living in the states. I have a dumpy 2 bedroom house. To many of the people of Afghanistan, this would be a palace. As I understand, $2.00 a day is about average for the typical worker... And I whine about my salary... shame on me.
I made it back to the FOB in one piece (alive)... I guess that counts for something. ¶ 1/12/2004 05:53:00 PM
Sunday, January 11, 2004
It is 0130 Zulu in Kandahar which makes it roughly 0600 Local or 2100 (9:00pm) back home in Kentucky. Since my last post, I took a combat flight (short takeoff/landing without lights) into Kandahar and moved into some temporary (transient) tents. The weather is warmer in Kandahar by about 10 degrees (f) than in Kabul... partly due that we are only 2000 feet above sea level as opposed to 4500. It is not as majestic here... we sit at the foothills of the Hindu Kush, but the mountain ridges are similar in size to what one would see in eastern Kentucky.
After a late wakeup we went to a bazaar just outside of post. It was basically a flea market with men and boys peddling anything from bootlegged CDs to carpets, watches, sunglasses, and other trinkets. The sellers were real hustlers and wouldn't take a first time or even a second time "no". I ended up buying, along with all my comrades, a lightweight vest designed to carry my body armor... the original price was $30 and the total price was haggled to $17... probably still too high, but I won't complain.
In the evening, my team was invited to the provincial chief of security's home for dinner and tea. We drove to the gentleman's home and started in a large living room where we munched on pistachios, almonds, raisins, and Pepsi. We were entertained by music videos of Britney Spears and Shakira... their lack of talent wasn't really an issue, we were just happy to see women... After light refreshments, we were taken to another room where a spread of lamb, chicken, and bread was offered. Consumption of food products was followed by a young lieutenant serving us yellow tea (chai). We chatted and listened to the general's dirty jokes through his interpreter, Mohammed. At the end of the night, the general shook everyone's hand and with a smile thanked us all for being a guest in his home. Not once did I see a woman.
Kandahar Air Field (KAF) is the base here in Kandahar and I am currently located on the Special Forces Forward Operating Base just outside of KAF. We have a well stocked PX (Post Exchange), a gift shop, a sewing shop, a barber, and even a place to get a legitimate massage. Later today and I am to visit a firebase in Ghecko about 40 Kilometers to the North and meet with my American counterparts.
I pee 4-5 times everynight after going to bed... something about forced hydration...
¶ 1/11/2004 05:51:00 AM
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Before going any further I must mention that I cannot be too specific with information. This would include last names, exact locations, times of flight, etc. If I am vague, please understand that it is for security and force protection reasons.

My name is Joe and my military nickname is "BJ" which is a shortened version of my last name. I am a Special Operations Civil Affairs soldier currently living in Afghanistan. I am from Louisville, Kentucky where I spent most of my life. I have been in the Army or Army Reserves for the past 15 years (I joined at 17). My first assignment was as a cavalry scout in Mannheim, Germany. After active duty I came back to Kentucky and became a drill sergeant and earned my B.A. in Anthropology. In 2002 I joined a Civil Affairs unit in Columbus, Ohio.

I am a team sergeant, meaning I am the senior non-commisioned officer, of a Civil Affairs team. My duties include serving as a diplomat, counselor, financial administrator, interpreter, and fully automatic, ground pounding, door kicker. Civil Affairs isn't necessarily all that Civil in the Special Operations environment, but we will save that for another post.

I have been training for the last three months on active duty and arrived in the country of Afghanistan only a few days ago. I haven't left my compound and I am taking the time right now just to acclimate to the environment. The air is thin and cold, there is a bit of rain and snow, and it is very hazy outside. When it is clear, there is a ring of snow-capped mountains surrounding our base. We are fortunate to have moved onto an old Soviet base which has been refurbished with running water, indoor plumbing, and improved tents and huts. Oh, we have internet access, too.

I have rambled too long, and there is a line of people waiting to use the computer. ¶ 1/08/2004 12:20:00 PM
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Hello and welcome to my web log. I am a soldier in the U.S. Special Operations Command and this is my first day in the country of Afghanistan. Keep tuned and I will update as often as possible. ¶ 1/07/2004 06:46:00 AM