Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mission to Gelan

If there's one thing that Afghan children are good at, it is mooching stuff off of American troops. On a recent mission to the district of Gelan I encountered this minature horde. They fleeced me for 10 packs of gum and a bag of pens. They then demanded chocolate and juice, of which I had none to give. Apparently this answer was not acceptable to them, so they countered with a demand of my earplugs and personal pen, both of which are easily visible on my body armor. I told them "no" and they brought their business elsewhere, specifically to my buddy LT James Bowen. They suggested a trade of the gum and pens I had given them for his rifle. After careful consideration, he told them "no deal" and we settled for this picture to conclude our negotiations.

Mission to Joghatu

Ahhh! I FINALLY got back to the base after a 22 hour mission to the village of Joghatu. (The mission should have only taken half as long). The mission itself went just fine, but on the return trip all hell broke loose. 5 km outside of the village one of our vehicles hit an IED, which nearly blew the entire front end off. We then had to call the base for assistance, as we had no way of towing the truck home with the vehicles we had left. 5 hours later the quick response force showed up. Normally it should have taken no longer than 1.5 hours to get to us. The delay was due to the fact that the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit that accompanied our reinforcements found 5 other IEDs en route! It took all of that extra time to dispose of them. By the time they arrived on the scene it was already dark (and we were in a particularly bad area). After hooking up the damaged truck to the tow truck and setting off toward the base we were ambushed by the Taliban. A gunfight ensued, and another one of our trucks was disabled by an RPG. We called in for a little air support while we hooked up the 2nd truck to a tow truck, and a F-15 fighter jet escorted us the remainder of the way back home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cougs in Afghanistan

Even in Afghanistan Cougar nation is represented! Our Executive Officer, LT Col Ken Primus, is a WSU alum in addition to myself. How many UW fans are currently stationed at FOB Ghazni you ask (base population around 3000)? The answer: zero. These pictures were taken in hopes of having it shown on the Jumbotron at Qwest Field during the WSU-Hawaii game in September. If anyone's going, let me know if we were successful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crazy Afghan Kids and their Crazy Burros

On a recent visit to the village of Tormai, we had the chance to play around with the local kids and their beloved donkeys. While lacking many basic necesities, such as bicycles, powerwheels, and tricycles, there seemed to be no shortage of these four-legged beasts. I was amazed at how patient these donkeys were with the kids, who were piling on to them three and four at a time! I passed out handfulls of gum and pens to the kids, which I suspect they are feeding to the donkeys, thus maintaining their loyalty. Maybe I'm wrong in this assumption...but I challenge you come up with a better theory.

One Truck, One Hole

On a recent mission to the Taliban-infested village of Qarabagh our truck driver had a little mishap. As we were attempting to turn the convoy around in a sandy field off the road, our driver managed to find the only hole in an otherwise flat and level area. The hole was hardly bigger than the tire, but he figured out how to get it done. Two towing trucks and two towing cables later, we were back on our way. Our driver's new call sign is "Gopher".

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sultan Dam

One of our recent site visits was to Sultan Dam, way up in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. Originally built by the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980's, the dam partially failed in 2005, flooding the provincial capitol of Ghazni Province, Ghazni City. My assignment was to assess the repairs to the dam which were nearly complete. Unfortunately, the repairs are terrible, and as the new section currently stands, is sure to fail when the reservoir fills in the Spring. Behind the dam is an ancient one, built nearly 1000 years ago. The area around the dam is mountainous, but breath-taking. It's sad that this country has been in a near-continuous state of war throughout it's existence, as the natural beauty of Afghanistan is monumental.

Monday, July 20, 2009


All of you "Band of Brothers" fans will hopefully appreciate this post. A few weeks before I arrived at FOB Ghazni, the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment shipped out. This is the same unit that "Easy Company", made famous by their acts of valor in WWII, is a part of. Their motto "Currahee" is painted on the wall of the flight line, along with their division symbol. For anyone who cares, Currahee is the name of a steep hill outside Camp Toccoa in Georgia. During WWII the members of the 506th would train by running up and down this hill almost daily, to push them to their physical limits.