Military stories from past to present, both wars.

My vacation back to Afghanistan part one

June 17th, 2009 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

starting our trip over to AfghanistanI have written very little since I returned from Afghanistan last November and part of that has been due to my disappointment over how certain “Non-Profit” support the troops companies are really a “For-Profit” making a tidy income. This will be a post for later, I think folks should know where their money goes when they donate out of good faith for the troops and I wonder if they would condone salaries of up to and over 100K? This makes my blood boil as I sit over in Afghanistan writing this.

I will have to shift back to my new story that has unfolded over the last month. I had just returned from a trip down in St. Maarten when there was a message from a buddy of mine, who was now the Strategic Communications officer for MajGen Doug Stone. When I called him up, mind you this was around May 12th, the small chat turned to his next tasker; put together a trip to Afghanistan for an assessment of their prison systems. Well, as the boss calls it, “Cops, Courts and Corrections” which is a huge task considering that Afghanistan is in solar year 1388 (which they use for their calendar) , and folks they are still 100 years from Columbus sailing to the America’s if you know what I mean. They are caught in the Stone Age with minor thrusts of the 21st century imposed on them. As you sit in your air conditioned house with running water and bathrooms trying to decide if you will go eat out tonight, they are living in mud huts and crapping out in a field for their bathroom. When you fly out of the major cities, you see thousands of Nomads and their camels settled along the landscape as they wander around the countryside. It’s just one of those things that you can’t understand until you experience it. Film doesn’t do a good job either since you aren’t able to get the smells along with it. Raw and stagnate sewage is so over powering that it makes your stomach convulse and as the fly’s attack the moist spots on your face (eyes and mouth) all you can think of, are the various diseases they carry. When you leave the main streets in your convoys, you drive through little canals of waste where kids are playing ball or tossing rocks at each other.

Tim called me up because I had just spent my last tour attached to the US Embassy in Kabul as the liaison to Camp Eggers for the ANP program. I still had a lot of connections there at the Embassy for the Rule of Law (ROL), prisons, corrections and many other programs. He had many questions about the local place and after giving him a guided tour on Google earth of downtown Kabul, I did something illogical to my liberal relatives I’m sure, but understandable to those who know me and support me. I volunteered to be his advance party over to Afghanistan, coordinating the meetings, schedule, travel, billeting, transpo etc. He wanted me to come up to DC in less then a week so after asking the boss (my beautiful wife) if I could go on a month long vacation with travel over to Afghanistan, I told Tim, “If you can cut me orders, get funding, ticket, country clearance, weapons, 782 gear in a week, I’ll go.” This is the Marine Corps we are talking about and a slow moving dinosaur at that, I truly believed that they couldn’t make this happen. Four days later, I had my orders, ticket, funding and off I went to the Navy Annex to start the planning of this monster trip.

The first thing you have to remember is that billeting is very hard to get over here. Transpo even harder and communications the hardest. There is a saying “Everything is hard in Afghanistan” and by that, I mean, nothing is made easy. NOTHING! So to take a group of 12 over to visit different prisons, PRT’s (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) Ministers, and all the different briefs he needs to make a proper assessment was a daunting task. I stayed in DC for about a week putting together a four week journey for the group and getting on the VTC daily with my connection over in ISAF JVB (Joint Visitors Bureau.)

The nice thing was that I stayed at “Hotel Bell” (my folk’s house) right down the street from my new office and was able to help paint part of the house in the high spots for my Dad who is afraid of heights. So, you will note that my folks saved the Taxpayers a ton of money by this move!

More to come, I have to allow someone else, computer time.
Semper Fi,

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