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

My Photo
Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Turkish delight

Another cloudless sky, another graduation.

Even if you've paid attention some to the news from Afghanistan, you're probably mightily confused.  Well, join the club.  Still wrapped up in the saga of an impending presidential ban on security companies -- something that would almost certainly shut down a massive portion of the country's development programs and projects -- the capital now is awash in rumors of Russia sending trainers to augment NATO here (which goes over like a lead balloon, as you might imagine).

 Afghan color guard at Turkey's Camp Ghazi

When I arrive at the office of my colleagues in the Defense Ministry, I never know what to expect.  The other day we watched news coverage of President Karzai's meeting with the President of Tajikistan, and couldn't help but joke to each other about how many sacks of cash were involved (Karzai just copped to receiving payments from both Iran and the U.S. in bags of cash, for which he naturally had a good explanation).
 The next thing I know, I was off with the general on our way to a big ceremony at the Turkish camp.  A large class of Afghan non-commissioned officers (NCOs) was taking the oath of service, and we had to be there.  Well, Azimi had to be there.  I, as the fortunate advisor, was merely told by him that "no" wasn't an option.  Since it suits me just fine to get out of the Green Zone, I was eagerly on my way.

Table after table is filled with young NCOs ready to take the oath.

And the shouts go up and out for Afghanistan.
(more pics to follow...)

There is a very real correlation that exists between the endless training taking place in Kabul and a few other cities and the life-and-death struggle in the field.  If outstanding leaders are identified and empowered here, if units learn to work together as one organ, if basic skills are mastered...then more soldiers, Afghan and Coalition alike, live to fight another day.  Although I am far removed from combat here, it is usually a tremendous honor to attend a ceremony such as this one in Camp Ghazi.

Called from the ranks to perform the prayer...

 As AfghaniDan's paparazzi follows him everywhere.

You see, all it takes is a war in a place like Afghanistan for the Turks and Greeks to come together!  Hellas cool.

Posted here is a brief but vivid account of life these days for the warriors of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.  It's worth a few seconds to read about what they go through on a daily basis fighting this war...while we bitch in Kabul if there's a long line to withdraw cash from the ATM at the coffee shop.

"It’s not fun," Gallant said of driving on Marjah’s roads. "It’s waiting to get blown up again for the most part."

Corporal details Marines' hard life in southern Afghanistan

Below is not the kind of quote you read often, including in most of the stories I've posted here.  And yes, it makes me swell with pride in my fellow Jarheads, the ones doing the heavy lifting...

“We have seen the changes here,” Ghulamzoi said. “This time last year, the Taliban was running this area. Since the Marines have come in, we can sleep safely in our homes again.”

Marines, Afghans Come Together for Way Forward in Marjah


Back in Kabul, the band played on...

...and on.

Bustin' through red smoke with the colors.

And always, the goose step manages to show up.

I can't help myself's addiction to links.  But if you have the inclination to read a gritty, heart-stopping account of patrols in Kandahar's vicious Arghandab Valley, please check this one out.  It is some excellent reporting by the UK's Daily Mail...

"Still buried somewhere very close to him  -  and us  -  was a pressure plate. If someone were to step on it Sgt. McGhee and those near him would have their 'day spoiled'  -  a laconic phrase used in the platoon to describe catastrophic injury."

"The basic IED is not only a potential war-winner, it is dirt cheap and easy to make."


Apple juice and Turkish finger food followed the affair.

Stalin may be long dead and hated here, but he sure is imitated in appearance sometimes.

Grabbing some real food back the Defense Ministry with my pal Colonel Asif (aka Pauly Walnuts)

While Col Paiman looks like he's got a whole feast to himself...
Asif decided that he should gain the weight.

So after that harrowing read, how about a bit of levity from krazy Kabul.  Actual quote follows from the host of what many service members here call "Who Wants to be an (Afghan) Millionaire" but is actually more like "Let's Make a Deal"...only if the prize girls were replaced by the guys from your IT department:

"You really wiped the smile off my face when you lost the one million," Mirzad told him. "Now you've won the lowest prize on this program. Best of luck in the future."

Afghan gameshow brings relief and a chance of cash

 Back at work, I coined a new term: Naan de Shark
(and the good eats carried on all day!)


Blogger FrenchFried said...

I am in awe! That is a HUGE bread...and you ate it all by yourself?? What a strange shape, it makes me think of the webbed foot of a prehistoric-kind-of-duck....
BTW, I like the kids drawings in the background, cute.
Thanks for the links. Thumbs up for the troops, you are all doing a great job.

October 29, 2010 at 3:31 AM  
Anonymous Georgia Lee said...

Two things - and they are both food related. 1.) Who in God's name taught you to cut a cake? I get that the knife wasn't ideal, but you look like you are stabbing it to death, not about to serve it. 2.) Pomegranates. The best way to get the fruit out is to cut them in half, then submerge the halves in a bowl of cool water while turning out the skins. The seeds will float to the top. Saves clothing and faces/hands from staining a DARK red. Hope you are well, and please, if anyone makes you pie, do it right and don't stab it. Slice and serve! Miss you and hope all is well

October 31, 2010 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous LilSisArmyWife said...

Coool pics and coverage of the Turkish oath ceremony.
Not sure Pauly Walnuts was too thrilled to have his mug taken at the feast table though.
Keep it up, Bro!

November 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

FF- I thought of a webbed footprint too!
LilSis- Pauly is like all Afghan smiles in photos, ever, or even direct eye contact if avoidable.

November 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

gL- Your pom tip is most welcome, but sounds time consuming. I have no patience! And yes, that is a stabbing motion for photo effect...I actually cut the cake quite nicely, thank you very much! ;)

November 2, 2010 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous BrothaSlap said...

"It's worth a few seconds to read about what they go through on a daily basis fighting this war...while we bitch in Kabul if there's a long line to withdraw cash from the ATM at the coffee shop."

... and we (okay, I) bitch when our (my) commute gets 10-15 minutes longer because yet another idiot drove a truck into an overpass on the Hutch. The perspective, as always, is appreciated, bro!

November 2, 2010 at 9:27 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home