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, June 21, 2010

Link Stew

(Sorry for the previously non-working links. I cannot overstate the difficulty of posting anything using the systems at my disposal! Should be good now if you want to check them out...)
If you thought you would be getting photos and descriptions of an Afghan delicacy, you're out of luck. Because by "link stew" I only mean you will get a stew of links to other places.

It's the 1st day of Summer, says the calendar, which means that I once again spent the longest day of the year in uniform.  I've got to halt that trend sometime.  Two years ago, I spent a couple of months on partnership exercises with Marines from Chile and Peru during this time of year...which was great, except that naturally -- below the equator -- it was the shortest day of the year for them.

So if I'm not spending the next one in Hammerfest, Norway; or Ireland's Hill of Tara; or Scotland's Orkney Islands; or back in Reykjavik, Iceland; or Alaska or Maine or any annual festival somewhere else...then call me out as a fraud, please.  And if I'm here, well...then I've either lost my mind, been offered a lucrative position in the Afghan government, or gone the warlord route and built up my own 'security force' (here in the 'stan, that usually = private army).

Having said that, it was a great day to be in my job here...lunch at a TV station with the Ministry of the Interior spokesman (possibly even better, getting to zoom around town in the middle of his convoy -- which usually gets you through traffic in a fraction of the time), followed by a massive graduation of 1,104 new Afghan National Police officers.  I got to drive past the old royal palace of Kabul -- though still formidable, now a ghostly wreck set back from the city, and to wonder at what was, what might have been, and what still could be for this hardscrabble city with such a desperate recent history.

On that note, check out the two photo essays below...the first is a recently-unearthed collection of photos from Kabul in the 1950's and 60's.  It's pretty remarkable: you'd think you're looking at Mexico City or some other place utterly different from the mangled (but still vibrant, in its own way) city there now.  The second is simply a beautiful series of photos by teenagers separated by thousands of miles of distance and culture...

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan

Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts -- when Kabul had rock 'n' roll, not rockets.

Afghanistan through Teenagers' Eyes

What happens when you give cameras to a group of Kabul teens? You see Afghanistan not as a place of war and violence, but as a country where children still play and life carries on. 

I'm sorry, but not only am I not going to make eggs right now, I am dragging myself to the rack and crashing.  My eyelids are like lead weights.  Hope to get pics up tomorrow.  G'night, friends!

See the below link for much more on challenges faced by the ANP now arriving in greater numbers in Kandahar, and by the Coalition men and women who train them...

U.S. Bolsters Afghan Police to Secure Kandahar


Blogger John Cocktoasten said...

At least you can put together an omelet if you get the itch...

Semi-serious question--ever work with Rob Riggle(Daily Show, The Hangover, Step Brothers)? I guess he's also a public affairs reservist Marine. Just curious as to if you've worked with him before, and if he's just as funny in the office.


June 22, 2010 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Slappy said...

Unfortunately neither of the Foreign Policy links are working, but the NY Times one is eye-opening ... Afghan forces sleeping on the job, keeping "disposed" bombs in personal quarters, ... wow.

June 22, 2010 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Ky Woman said...

Good links, Major Dan. Too bad I had already clicked them from somewhere else.

Hope all is well with y'all and hoping the dust settles from the recent DC bombshell that was dropped on Afghanistan.

We're keeping everyone in our thoughts and prayers.

June 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger yomistast said...

Yo cuz,

Could not see the links.


June 27, 2010 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Guys, thanks for the heads up about the links...was unable to open the blog at all for over a week. Hope they're fixed now.

Slappy, there are countless examples of stories about that stuff, but there are encouraging signs of progress too. Unfortunately we are probably only in Year One of getting training right, about 8 yrs too late for a high level of support for the commitment. And still now, just as I saw 4 yrs ago, there is a lack of honesty at the upper levels about what such a commitment would entail and how long we can expect to have people here.

Cocktoasten- I have met Rob a couple of times, and he's a great guy. You're right about his status; we are both PAO Reserve Marines, in the same detachment of Individual Augmentees, in fact. He just commands a slightly wider audience than I do (and outranks me -- picked up LtCol last year). Pretty sure I could out-run him though.

June 30, 2010 at 2:30 AM  

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