Monday, March 28

Here's the last and possibly the best story I've written here.

Sunday, March 27

A few weeks ago I had the priviledge of attending an ANA Kandak (battalion) basic training graduation. This was another of those events that really brings home why we're here and makes you feel real good about what's going on. The ANA is a very proud army. Every Kandak is ethnically integrated in proportion to the demographics of the country. Historically, military organizations here were tribally or ethnically organized. These soldiers really bond and are effective together. They also recognize how important it is for Afghanistan to become a strong nation rather than being decentralized and tribally oriented. It's a cultural barrier they appear to be breaking. Just look at their faces. The pictures are worth a thousand words. It is now customary after they are called forward to receive an award that they face the unit and shout "I serve the Afghan nation!" Allegience to nation over tribe and ethnicity is the key to a peaceful Afghanistan and an Afghanistan that participates responsibly in the international community.

Here's the color guard marching forward at the start of the ceremony. The base mosque is visible on the hill in the background.

Here are the soldiers marching past the reviewing stand.

Here I am with the formation of soldiers in the background.

Most ANA ceremonies conclude with what we affecionately call a 'man dance'.

Here I am with the old man that played the drum for the man dance. He's normally the base barber.

Post-graduation celebration.

The soldiers are holding flowers after the ceremony to give to their instructors to show how happy and appreciative they are.

Here I am assisting with an Associated Press Television News interview of the Colonel in charge of the OMC-A team that assists at the Kabul Military Training Center.

The KMTC public affairs team invited us to stay for lunch at their dining facility following the ceremony.

Friday, March 25

Here's an article I wrote recently about the construction of the Afghan National Army computing infrastructure.

Here I am interviewing the Afghan General (in green camoflauge) in charge of Communications. The gringo in the sport jacket is an american contractor hired to advise the General.

This pic is kind of dark, but it shows me interviewing one of the Afghan National Army soldiers that went through the training. Next to me is my interpreter.

Wednesday, March 23

Miscellaneous interesting photos. The first is a group of afghan public affairs officers I work with. The young Afghan in front is one of our interpreters. The American in civilian clothes is a contractor working for OMC-A as a coach/mentor for the Afghan army PAOs.

Afghan police on the streets of Kabul.

A new large mosque under construction.

Other Kabul area buildings. Notice the sidewalk bazaar in the foreground.

Saturday, March 19

Here's a couple of photos of Kam Air crash recovery operations launching from the Afghan Army base in Kabul. Recovery operations completed a few days ago.
In this one a team is boarding a Turkish UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to be lifted to the crash site on one of the surrounding mountains.

This is right before takeoff. I thought it was interesting; a Turkish helicopter with the base mosque and mountains in the back ground.

Here I am in a C-130 flying to Kandahar a while back with my boss, LTC M. She redeployed almost two weeks ago now. The boss I had prior to her, COL P., took the photo. I thought you'd get a kick out of this one :-)

In this one I'm congratulating a Soldier that received an award. Actually, he's an Airman that was serving as our First Sergeant-- the top NCO at the Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan.

Me, my new boss LTC R., and MAJ B. (a fellow Major and PAO), meeting with the ANA Central Corps PAO in his office discussing how media relations for the crash recovery are going.

Nice photo of our flag flying over one of our camps, with a mountain back drop.

This is a 'heavy weapons contonment area', a secure area were large weapons previously held by various militias are turned in, stored and disposed of. It's part of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintigration program and the Afghan New Beginnings Program.

Sunday, March 13

Hi everyone. I know it's been a while since I've posted anything. To bring you up to date I'd like to start by thanking all of you again for thinking of me on my birthday last month. I received well over 50 cards from you and five packages. It was just great and I enjoyed sharing the snacks, etc., with friends and with some of the Afghans I work with. Most of the Afghans working with the coalition have large families and most help support up to 70 extended family members. They are very appreciative.

The weather has gotten warmer over the past week and a half. It's now in the 60s and even 70s during the day. Quite beautiful. The snow in the mountains is starting to melt, causing some flooding and deaths in rural villages. The flooding will get more severe as the temperature continues to rise at higher altitudes. The coalition has done extensive planning with the Afghan government and humanitarian organizations for flood relief. One of my Sergeants is deeply involved in these planning groups and has done a bull's work on the nation's plan for emergency management.

The Afghans believe our being here is a blessing from God in part because there was draught during the Taliban years and since the time we overthrew the Taliban there has been plenty of precipation for farmers to produce well.

I will be leaving Kabul in the next couple of weeks and staying a couple of weeks at Bagram before departing with my unit. Although I love receiving mail, I recommend you only send me email from now on as I will not likely receive any 'snail mail' before I leave. At Bagram I will be inspecting, inventorying, and packing the unit's equipment and coordinating for the redeployment of our personnel and equipment. It's quite exciting for the end of the tour to be in sight.

Here's a few photos for your viewing pleasure ;-)
This is a warehouse where the Office of Military Cooperation collects items donated for the Afghan National Army and organizes them for distribution.

Here is a warehouse worker packing trunks full of donated medical supplies for distribution to ANA units in the field.

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