Friday, July 30

Here are some photos I took at an Afghan National Army facility. The first is a shot of what used to be an exclusive restaurant during the Russian occupation on the top of a mountain overlooking Kabul. It kind of reminded me of the Eagle's Nest in Germany, except the view is not as green!

This is the view from the Eagles Nest. In the foreground is some white buildings. That is a new Afghan Army post. In the background you can see Kabul. You also see two fairly big buildings-- although they looks small in the picture. The one to the right was the Queen's Palace during the 'good ole days' before all the wars. The one to the left was the King's Palace. Both are heavily scarred from the wars, gutted, and uninhabited. You can tell they were once very beautiful, though. I'll send better pics of them later.

Here's a view off the back side of the mountain and a Canadian patrol winding through the pass.

This is a closer view of the Canadian armored reconnaissance vehicle

Me and MAJ B at the top of the hill.


View from the 'house' down to the terrace and pool (off to the left and dilapidated). Bullet holes and bomb fragments litter the house and terrace. A group of Afghan soldiers lives at this facility and use it as an observation post.


Sunday, July 25

In honor of my KDOT friends, here are some photos of road work at my compound. I know, it's not highway work-- but still!

Mixing and laying asphalt material.


A couple of road workers. They were so excited to get their picture taken. They ran right over to see the digital picture displayed on my camera. Then they joked around with eachother. I didn't understand their words, but understand how these buddies at work might by razzing eachother about how they look in the photo. I went back to the office and printed it out for them. They were very grateful.

A couple of workers taking a break from the heat.

27 May 2004

It's a 'slow work day' today. Nobody told us, so my group got up early to exercise, get into uniform and go to work. Then we see others around the compound wearing civilian clothes and they tell us the deal. 'Slow Work Days' are designated now and then, and we are allowed to wear civilian clothes and work  shorter day.

Nazim, our interpreter, brought me an Afghan kabob for lunch. It's a lot like a Gyro, except they use a local flat bread instead of a Pita, and there is no garlic sauce. It's pretty good. I just wonder what kind of meat it was. I suppose it was lamb.

Thursday, July 15

24 May 2004

Last night I flew back from Kandahar. The evasive maneuvering almost made me sick as the C-130 dipped and banked sharply repeatedly on the approach. I could also hear the missile decoy flares firing off from the plane.

I spent the night at Bagram in the media sleeping quarters. There were no media, so it was largely empty except for SFC Holt's hooch at the back of the hut. The huts we have at Bagram are made of plywood and have tin roofs. They're pretty nice by army standards. Five guys share one of three huts. CPT White's hooch is at the back of the female media hut and SFT Holt's in the male media hut. They all have plenty of room and privacy.

I got back to Kabul in the afternoon. The guys did a lot of cleaning and arranging of our new office space. It's starting to look pretty good, and everyone now has a desk to call their own. It's nice to be 'home'!

Here's a shot from where I was sitting on the C-130.

Tuesday, July 13

Now for... the rest of the story. SGT Clawson was very aggressive in pursuing stories during the operation; so much so that they made fun of him and called him Geraldo. He was undaunted by their 'razzing' and produced a fantastic magazine to commemorate the operation and the soldiers performing the mission. Here's a link to that magazine. It's a big file, so if you're on dial-up prepare to wait a while. I'm very proud of SGT Clawson and his teammates in producing this.

The operation lasted about 12 days. During the operation, the unit swept an area, carraling them into their training camp in the mountains where they refused to surrender and were subsequently bombed by the air force. They also made several good contacts with villages and Afghan people developing relationships and providing assistance.

Blue Candle - Single for printing.pdf

Friday, July 9

23 May 2004 -- Kandahar
SGT Clawson goes on his first combat mission tonight. For the unit he's going with, this is also their first combat operation. The operation is called "Blue Candle". All their operations are named after cacti because the Task Force is named TF Cacti. He has been keyed up for the past two days-- bouncing off the walls and thinking intently.

They expect contact with the enemy in this operation. The 'pucker factor' is very high for everyone involved. Clawson has been to the briefings and rehearsals and had one-on-one conversations with both the Company Commander and First Sergeant. The First Sergeant had a very 'colorfull' conversation with Clawson where every other word started with an F and had four letters. The idea was to press the point that Clawson had better not hold up the unit, get in the way, expose any of them to danger, etc. As Clawson put it, "You couldn't get a BB up their _sses with a hammer right now." I think the same thing would apply to Clawson right now.

Other "straphangers" on the mission besides Clawson include the FBI, CIA, Army Intelligence interrogators, female search teams, and ZDF German TV. The unit was not happy to have any of them on the mission, including Clawson.

22 May 2004 -- Kandahar
Early this morning two mortars hit the base, but there was no damage done. CPT Myers said it was loud and it shook the tent... but I slept through it! Like I said before, I've been getting very good sleep in Kandahar.

Today was a slow day. I head back tomorrow afternoon. CPT Eckart says they've done a lot of work while I've been gone to improve and settle into our expanded office space in Kabul. Despite the slow day, I couldn't call or email anyone today. The internet is the slowest I've ever seen, and the phone lines were busy.

Sunday, July 4

Photos of the room I share with CPT Eckart, 1SG Dyer, and SFC Heusel. My bed is the lower bunk with the large black footlocker in front of it.

Me, MSgt B, LTC D, and COL P in the PAO bunker during a drill.

One of our press conferences. You can see the back of my new boss, LTC Meisner, on the left. It's getting might darn hot out there. Don't you find it interesting the difference in the briefing 'rooms' between Afghanistan and Iraq? We're looking into using one of our dining halls for the conferences until the weather cools off some.

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