Sunday, June 13

21 May 2004

It's my second day in Kandahar. I slept in this morning till 08:30. Prior to this I've been unable to sleep past 04:30. I slept great on a cot in CPT Myers' hooch-- which is very well air conditioned. It was just what I needed.

The tent has plywood floors and walls with canvas on the top and sides. It's not too far from the airfield and you can hear helicopters and C-130s taking off and landing all through the night.

This afternoon I took Francois from Paris Match magazine on patrol with the 3-7 Field Artillery Battalion. It was their 'Big 3' security patrol. It consisted of four HMMWVs, two were up-armored and were at the front and rear, each had a machine gun on top. We were in the back of an open two seater HMMWV that had Kevlar panels bolted on the side and kevlar blankets on the floor.

The patrol took us along a dirt road at the base of the mountain closest to the airfield. We went through a lot of mud villages. Tall mud walls lined the road in the villages, which made us nervous. Someone could toss a grenade off the wall into our vehicle so everyone was alert. All the houses were also mud.

Everything is the same color here. The ground, the road, the houses, the walls-- all brown dirt and rock. Except for the children. They wear the most vibrant colors. Greens, reds, turquoise. They really brighten up the landscape.. They run to wave at us and hope we'll throw them something. The didn't have anything for them however.

We then got to the Taliban ammo dump. It was a place the Russians, then the warlords, and later the Taliban kept large amounts of munitions. Now it's guarded by some very poor looking people and they work to decommission the artillery shells, etc. I took several pictures and talked to them.

Terry, one of my soldiers, offered them beef jerky, but they spit it out. They told the Sergeant First Class leading the patrol that they always get a case of water from patrols that visit. He gave them one bottle each.

The last place we went was a police academy run by DynaCorp for the U.S. State Department. It was a fairly secure, square, walled-in perimeter. The soldiers finally had a chance to relax during our brief stop. Some DynCorp guys brought out cold sodas for our soldiers. There was nothing happening today at the academy. They said they were between classes.

They have two basic police courses. Which one you attend depends on your literacy. Illiterate recruits learn how to direct traffic and similar things, while literate recruits learn other more complex police jobs/responsibilities.

The patrol took over four hours and we were caked in dust by the end.

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