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...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A-bad revisited

Not only is that probably Alex "Prettyboy" Rodriguez's latest nickname, but it's short for Asadabad here. Since I can't bring you coverage of the latest operation down south - they wouldn't let me play this time - here is more from my time up north in Kunar a couple of months ago. After the first phase of the op with the media crews, I got them to A-bad, then immediately plotted to return to the field. It wasn't easy getting back out there, it turned out.

A-bad is one of those bases tucked in the mountains, seeming like it would be a cool retreat if not getting rocketed on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, just before we flew from there to start the op, a rocket intended for the base struck a school in town - tragically, during their recess. The despicable attack killed 11 children and wounded over a dozen others, who were rushed to the base for immediate medical attention, saving some who were in really bad shape. The medics and docs on hand were incredible that day.

So Easter morning, after getting in the previous late night, I ended up on a convoy heading to the governor's house in town. The commander of the region's provincial reconstruction team (PRT) grabbed me to discuss the ongoing operation. I was glad for the chance to not only check out another new place, but one that I'd read so much about before this deployment.

The gardens in the governor's compound give you a good idea of how different life is for the power brokers in Afghanistan, much like anywhere else for that matter. People may be living in dirt outside, but inside the pink walls, life is good. This policeman may not have been thrilled that I was taking pictures, but the AfghaniDan was packing two loaded weapons at this point, so maybe I got a free pass.

Smiles all around on the Afghan army officials in the gov's office. I found it impossible not to think of all the times an office like this, or the base for that matter, would have changed hands over the past 30 years. Afghan royalists, Afghan communists, Soviets, various warlords, Taliban and now three governors already in the current government's time. And that's just the past few decades!

I just had to include this one, not for any photographic value, but for the little chief of police in the middle. Isn't he adorable? I hope that peaked hat of his gives him the extra foot of authority he needs.

Scenes from the town...again, this is a provincial capital. Things are a little different in Kunar. It's like the Alabama of Afghanistan, not that there's anything wrong with that (I can just feel the hate mail pouring in...)

Back on the base, the big guns were active. I didn't catch them firing with my camera, but lord almighty did it shake, rattle and roll the place when they did.

Next installment: making my way back out west. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, by the way...especially all of you with children here. You can be proud as hell of these young soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, as I'm sure you are. Politicians, reporters and those idiotic talking heads on the ubiquitous TV "news" programs can pontificate all they want about what's wrong here or what can't be fixed (and there is a lot of both), but the American military and our allies are busting their butts every day to improve security for the people of this war-torn place, no matter how long the changes may last.


Blogger Flag Gazer said...

Capt. Dan~
Thank you for your wonderful site. You have given us a view of Afghanistan that no one else has. It was very insightful to see your photographs before I read Greg Palkot's blog on the mission you were on together.

We keep you in our thoughts and prayers and send our unending gratitude for all you do to keep us safe and free.

June 19, 2006 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Diana said...

This is the best site on Afghanistan that I have ever seen. Are you using a civilian camera? If so would you mind telling us what kind?
Do you ever get to see media coverage of the war, and do you have a choice of channels?
Sorry for the questions and feel free to ignore them. I am sure that you are very busy!
Thanks for giving us this great blog. Stay safe.

June 19, 2006 at 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Your posts are a remarkable amalgam of dry humor, real need to know info, an element of sadness/frustration and incredible pictures. We hear so little and want so much. Most of what I have is now from you. My gratitude is endless - did I say that last time around? If so, it stands repeating.

I keep you and all the rest of the best in my prayers; when they do allow you to "play" again,(I loved that gem) let me say in advance that 1. I'll have you in my doubled prayers and 2. get those bad guys!!! Many, Many, Blessings!

June 19, 2006 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger kbug said...

Yes, we are indeed very proud of our Soldier over there. We know all of you guys over there are doing the best job possible...and we love and pray for all of you.

June 20, 2006 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pictures and a true picture of how life is in Afghanistan. Thanks so much. Martha

June 20, 2006 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Thanks so much to all of you for your kind feedback, comments, thoughts and prayers...I really do appreciate hearing from you all.

I am using a civilian camera, a well-worn Nikon Coolpix 2500 - nothing fancy and pretty outdated, but it's easily portable and takes a beating. We do get to see coverage from various networks rotated throughout the day on AFN News, and some international coverage (BBC, etc.) on the satellite dishes around the base.

Thanks again, and I'll get more up there ASAP!

June 23, 2006 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Capt Dan,
Took a moment to pull up Fox online today and they mentioned more heavy fighting. Bought a paper at noon, same with my local leftish press throwing in a Karzai
moment of frustration and senility: "500-600 Afghanis died this week, and even if they are Taliban, they are from Afghani soil" Well I am grateful they have returned to the soil. I am not grateful for our losses, God bless them, give them a special place in Glory and much peace. I am assuming since it was never said either place that this continues to be Mountain Thrust?

Thinking about you and all our men and so proud of the incredible job you are doing. I send you my prayers for God's blessings to be with you even in the down time but particularly when they let you out to "play"!

June 23, 2006 at 6:30 PM  

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