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...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Kabul to meet you

Continuing my theme of posting pics from weeks ago, I'll fill this post with scenes of my first morning in Kabul, a couple of weeks ago...

That would be the flag of the United States Marine Corps high over the multinational camp at Kabul's airport...naturally, among the flags of other nations with contingents here.  Yep, that's jes' how we roll.  Here's more from my first day in the capital...

My look at the airport area and parts of the city itself was during a pretty glorious daybreak, ushering in a day that swung between bouts of dark clouds & sprinkles and bursts of muggy sunshine & blue skies.  While my fellow Marine and I were focused on arranging our transportation to our camp, we walked around quite a bit.  The above photos are of a monument in front of the military terminal, the welcoming sign, and dawn over some ISAF vehicles.  Hours later, we learned that a Coalition convoy in the capital had been attacked by a vehicle-borne IED, killing five American soldiers, a Canadian soldier and 12 Afghan civilians, (most of whom were in a crowded bus on their morning commute).  It was a harsh reminder that though relatively calm compared with much of the country, Kabul has its active insurgent elements.  Thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the slain, and the wounded they do to those of the brave killed or maimed daily in villages, fields and on dirt roads; in places known only in Helmand, Oruzgan or Kandahar.

Below are the flags of Coalition nations arrayed in what appears to be a circular fashion.  A monument from Romania stands in front.  And below that are the seemingly eternally snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush...making me wish for the thousandth time that some enterprising ski resort developer would hire the security and the de-mining necessary to open up some runs...

Our good friends the Germans (still sounds weird, doesn't it?) are at this facility with their Iron Cross and all, and have set up their own PX...which would be awesome if our guys were allowed to imbibe.  Below that, my travel buddy points the way toward the aforementioned USMC flag, high above the 'Marine Embassy' as I termed it.  Naturally, we had to then check out the rooftop and get a motivating photo in.

The mountains win again, as my boys Blues Traveler and Warren Haynes once sang.  From the roof, we look toward a series of outer Kabul neighborhoods stretching off into the hills and the fog, with flags of other small compounds like those of the Germans and the Czechs between us and there.  The Greeks have their spot too, as "MX Hellas" makes clear in the pic below that.  Yes, it's another Epcot Center here (didn't I say that about Bagram in '06, and Kosovo in '00?)...

I'll end the slideshow with a shot of how much crap just two Marines in total bring out (we got issued more than 75% of it, really).  I don't recall how many times we heard, "All that is yours??" on the way through Kuwait and Bagram.  After that is the ellipse of ensigns yet again, in a bit of wind this time.  I admit my weakness of scenes with many flags, so if you're willing to keep following, my advice is to get used to it.

Before I sign off, a note about the Peace Jirga currently ongoing in Kabul... The term 'jirga' means a council, generally a mediating one designed to settle a dispute.  In this case, what is sought is a consensus on outreach to some enemy elements who would potentially lay down their arms in return for...something.  This particular meeting is not accepted by all -- some downright oppose and even boycott it, others call it a stunt and a public relations move.  The jirga is not even designed to achieve much of anything by its conclusion, but to hopefully lead to a more tangible process.  But if nothing else, President Karzai showed some impressive cool under fire (literally) yesterday.  While he was addressing the assembly, a rocket impacted near the tent.  Nervous attendees got up to leave, but Karzai urged them to stay and continue their business, saying "Everyone is used to it; even my 3-year-old son is used to it."

"Stay calm, my brothers and sisters! The rumors are untrue...there are plenty of yogurt covered raisins and mutton sticks for all! No rioting, I beg you!"
[Photo by AP: Musadeq Sadeq]

Here is one of the stories released today.  In addition to what the article states, I feel it's worth emphasizing that the attacks failed, that the Afghan National Police distinguished themselves, and that this past day (Thursday -- the second day of the Peace Jirga) held no further attacks.  Here's wishing for a third day just like it, and a diminishing of terrorists' capacity to attack peaceable assemblies and citizens.

Afghanistan Taliban attack Hamid Karzai's 'peace jirga'


Anonymous Slappy said...

"The jirga is not even designed to achieve much of anything by its conclusion, but to hopefully lead to a more tangible process."

So, I take it Jeets is therefore not allowed to participate?

June 4, 2010 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

There is no Captain Intangibles here in jirga jirga land...

June 5, 2010 at 11:49 AM  
Anonymous raf said...

Of course I noticed the obligatory pull-up bars out front on the Marine Embassy....

June 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger yomistast said...

The Mountains Win Again?

I asked you to play RUNAROUND!

Can we just change the word "intangible" to "jeter?"

He's got those Jeters to help win.

Man, those Marines sure can win a fight. Is it their skill? Their strength? No, it's the Jeter in all of them....

June 9, 2010 at 2:28 PM  

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