Friday, February 25, 2011
in not noting the most excellent gift given to me by my wife this past R&R/delayed Christmas. I'd noted this furniture earlier when I'd inadvertently run across while browsing the web. I'm happy to say the gentleman who makes these was able to get a set to her shortly before my arrival home.
I will note that the image doesn't do the wood justice by any means. Made of walnut, all the pieces have a warm, rich appearance that I wouldn't have associated with an AR-type rifle. My only fear now is that I'll scratch them while out at the range. I'll probably be hauling an extra-thick blanket to cover the shooting surface every time this one goes out anymore.
I'm damn fortunate in my spouse's consideration when it comes to gifts.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Poetry Bridges Gap
Package about how Task Force Red Bulls Soldiers join Afghan civilians in Charikkar, Afghanistan and read poetry on the radio to celebrate Valentines and the birth of the Prophet Muhammed.
There are many things one cannot say when wearing a uniform.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
So, what’s going on, and why don’t I post things more often?
Our unit, formerly situated an Camp Phoenix in the Kabul area, has since relocated to the Bagram area. There are ups and downs to this. On the plus side, the air here is breathable. The Kabul area easily falls into the top 10 most atmospherically polluted cities on the planet. When the populace burns tires as a heat source, that’s going to happen. Bagram, while dusty and dirty relative to much of the US, isn’t even close to Kabul for filth. As a result, we see far less reactive airway problems.
On the down side….well, there’s a fair bit of that. Bagram is a major hub. Meaning it draws rockets. Not a lot, compared to my time in Iraq, but enough that people have a good chance of sustaining injuries when they do come in. Secondly, there are Sergeant-Majors and field grade officers everywhere. Which means constant attention to vitally important things such as how the Army fleece cap is worn, or adjusting regulations of dress to fit one senior individual's sense of how things should be worn, rather than how they are authorized to be worn. In WWII, this was known as chickenshit. It’s the same game, but a different animal’s scat these days.
But what are we actually doing here? Both less and more than we, as medics, would like. We’ve gone from running a post Troop Medical Clinic to running a small camp (a camp on Bagram being like a suburb of a metropolis: it’s physically attached, but has its own name and notional borders on a map marking whose responsible for that patch of ground) aid station with less capability and less patients. Those not trapped in the medic hut rotate between being convoy or route clearance medics, checking detainee health conditions, providing medical support during rollover simulator operations, or best of all, sitting in a chow hall entryway counting heads as people come in to eat. You can guess which one of these tasks no one wants.
I’m personally doing 12 hour shifts in our aid station, one day off in 14. Often, we really don’t see many people, as there’s a surplus of medical services in our environment, which makes for a very long day. Fortunately, our command has seen fit to task me with additional duties as safety NCO, Unit Historian, and interim Public Affairs NCO. My days seem to go by faster than those who sit and watch movies on hard drives to make the time pass. Eventually, I should be going out on some the external duties, which I hope will deliver up some interesting images and experiences.
Until then, it’s colds, blisters, and GI problems, with the occasional lecture from doctors bored to distraction.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Apparently the internet on our section of camp is solar powered; if there are clouds it works intermittently, if there's snow it stops. The clinic DSN (digital secure phone) phone (yes, singular) hasn't worked for three days. That's not good, but it's also apparently some kind of primary link for this part of the camp's system. When ours doesn't work, nobody's on this camp works. Stringing the old Viet Nam era wire phone lines with sound-powered hand sets like I used in the early '90s is looking like a better choice at the moment.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
A lot of travel in Afghanistan is done by air when possible. Simply put, the roads often aren't worthy of the name, and the danger of ground travel usually exceeds air travel. So on my recent return home on R&R, I was able to hitch a ride on a UH-60 (Blackhawk) helicopter. This gave me a chance to see a little of the portion of Kabul our post was located in. Prior to this, I had done some reading regarding Afghanistan and Kabul. One of the interesting things I'd retained is that after the Soviets left and squabbling over Kabul began, over half of Kabul was destroyed, primarily through rocket and artillery fire (as in the image above). Prior to this, many Afghans moved from rural areas to Kabul to escape the Soviet-Taliban battles. Now, being reasonably intelligent, a large portion of the populace fled to Pakistan and further parts of the world to escape this new devastation.
When the Taliban was largely displaced after 2001, people began returning to Kabul. In fact, far more people than had ever lived there before. Some estimates place 2.8 million people in Kabul in 2008, with probably more now. Which meant the Afghan version of a construction boom. Seen from a Blackhawk, here's what it looks like:
This what urban sprawl looks like in the Third World. I started being grateful for what I had when I was considered poor in the US back in the '90s after a medical mission in Guatemala. Every deployment since then has only reinforced that.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
It's been a while since posting anything about being in Afghanistan, so a little catching up is in order. What does Godzilla have to do with that? Absolutely nothing; I just like the picture, and I'm still fighting jet lag.
Recently seen above the post, something I wouldn't have thought I would see outside a museum:
First noticed this guy when I heard the relatively soft and sedate sound of the engines and propellers, when what we usually have is jets going by all day. Looking up, I noticed an aircraft that looked like it was hardly moving. Looking a little closer at the wings, and then noticing it actually had a tail wheel, I started thinking that it looked familiar, almost like something I'd seen recently.....
It looked a lot like this one I photographed at the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans while on a four-day pass.
Per Wikipedia, the DC-3 was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond and first flew on December 17, 1935. Total production of the DC-3 was 16,079, with more than 400 remained in commercial service in 1998. 10,655 DC-3s were built at Santa Monica, California, Long Beach, California, and Oklahoma City in both civil DC-3 (607) and military C-47 (10,048) versions, with an additional 4,937 built under license in Russia as the Lisunov Li-2. American production stopped in 1945.
A total of 4,937 Li-2 versions between 1940 and 1954, seeing extensive use in Eastern Europe until the 1960s, the last survivors in use in China and Vietnam during the 1980s.
Apparently there's only one Li-2 restored to airworthy condition, so it would seems this would probably be an old American one that's still delivering something into Kabul.