A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stranded in Gardez?

Greetings from Gardez, a province west of my base in Khost and much higher in altitude. It's largely because of that change in elevation actually that I was almost stranded for the night, "weathered in" for awhile at the Afghan army base here...which turned out to be a great experience.

Unfortunately, I didn't exactly prepare for the allegedly short and easy day trip, taking no winter weather gear or a flashlight, much less any of the dozen or so books I have, yet haven't read. But I'm back in the floridian weather of Khost today after a tactical flight back late. That was a highlight, skimming over new snow on the mountains below.

This was definitely a dramatic example of how Afghan mountain weather can turn. Despite clear and sunny skies in Khost, and despite traveling to the closest location we'd likely be flying to, we were almost here for the night (and with two full colonels to boot, so that is the ONLY reason that a late night pickup was finally worked out).

The visit was interesting, as I accompanied a reporter while the outgoing task force commander brought the new commander to meet the Afghan general who heads their military corps for the entire region. I toured the base with both Afghan and American sergeants major, observing a company at drill (they've been perfecting it for 3 weeks) and learning about how the Afghan National Army is coming along.

There are great challenges they still face, and none greater than the difficulty in molding leaders from the force when their officers are often wealthy appointees who know only a Soviet style of military order and discipline. If they can hang on long enough for good, principled leaders to emerge and for the rampant corruption to be pushed out, their military has a chance of standing on its own someday.

Here are two shots that demonstrate how quickly the snow flurry blew in, taken only about 15 minutes apart. The embedded tactical training team members are the hard workers behind the scenes, as they guide and advise the Afghans in how to lead their army. Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and allies (Romanian, in this case) work together to meet high standards for such a new force...


Anonymous Ash the Girl said...

When you were almost stranded did you think of Goo being stranded at the Cracker Barrel.

March 7, 2006 at 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Sully said...

The Islanders own the Devils.

March 8, 2006 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Guys Rock..Thank-You

March 8, 2006 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

Always helps to have O-6 clout with you...

March 9, 2006 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Maj John, you said it. The full bird wings fly you back.
Sully, you're an idiot. Devils are playoff-bound, Isles just had a fire sale.
Ash, that is hilarious! Poor Goo will never get over it.
And Anonymous, thank you too.

March 12, 2006 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger I Love Jeets said...

Falco, don't listen to Sully. He's obviously drunk. The Devils are doing just fine, as they always do when you're overseas.


March 13, 2006 at 7:48 AM  

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