28 January 2010

Mission to Kandahar (KAF)

Got back from Kandahar on Tuesday afternoon. KAF is actually larger than Bagram in size, but we still have them in total population. Like the rest of this country, it was dirty but with a lot less pollution in the air. I will hand it to NATO though; they know how to bring in the creature comforts.

In addition to the numerous chow halls, each with a different European cuisine, they had a coffee shop that rivals the best Starbucks back home. Incredibly clean. Has Internet service, large flat screen plasma TVs and enough couches for 50 of your closest friends. Almost forgot where I was. I also experienced a few of firsts. One, I've never seen or heard of a TGI Fridays in a combat zone (just opened up two days before we got there). Second, I had to do a double take when I saw the outdoor Canadian ice hockey rink. Wow.

Finally, I worked out at the NATO gym. In order to get in, I had to have a clean pair to running shoes. Imagine having to give your shoes a shower before you worked out. Now walk the 1/2 mile in AF PT shorts, jacket and combat boots (clean shoes in hand). Talk about sexy. Should have taken a pic. Once inside, I surrendered my boots to a counter attendant who promptly put them in a bag and then on a shelf. To their credit, the gym was very clean, with all the latest and greatest workout machines and free weights. Made the commercial gyms back home look like holes in the wall.

All in all is was a good mission. The perks mentioned above made it memorable.

Jenna goes everywhere with me.

Canadian Ice Hockey Rink

Afghan Sept 11th monument in middle of base

On the roof of KAF PMO bldg

24 January 2010

Moon Dust and Rocks

Everything here is dirty. They call the dirt "moon dust". It is fine, almost like baby powder. Gets into everything. Everything. The constant smell of dirt is only eclipsed by that of the trash incendiaries which burn 24/7 (pics below). The combination of smells makes this place a pleasure to walk/run/work in.

There is no sense trying to keep things clean. Sweep floor or dust your computer; dirty again within minutes. In most places when it rains, the water will clean off the sidewalks and streets. Here, it only makes a muddy mess. The video below will give you an idea of how fine the dust is (yes I felt pretty stupid walking around video taping my feet). The rocks. Well, the rocks were spread all over the place to counter the dirt. End effect. Dirty rocks that twist ankles and knees if one is not careful.

The moon dust and rocks are simply another fact of life here at Bagram.

So is the pollution.

24/7 operation to get rid of trash for over 30,000 people who live/work on base.
Altitude (~6,500 feet above sea level), dirt and pollution; makes for healthy lungs...

19 January 2010

Feel Like a Hobo

My NCO came back early for emergency leave. Hiding out in one of my Airman's room now until new room opens; hopefully tomorrow...

UPDATE: Moved into new room on 21 Jan. Went from 10'x10' wooden cubicle to a 2 bedroom suite with lounge area. And this is Army living. Rank/Position does have its privileges.

15 January 2010

Home Today. Gone Tomorrow.

About 10 days ago when I got back to my room (10' x 10' cubicle inside center wooden hut below) after working out I was approached by the Camp Mayor. He asked me, "Sir, you want the bad news?" Sure. "You have to move out of your room immediately; we are tearing down all these huts so the AF can build a new cargo pad."

No problem. I told him I was scheduled to move 20 Jan anyway. His reply. "That may be so, but I need you out of here now." It was only 5 Jan.

Defiant to the end, I stayed put thinking there is no way they are going to tear down all these huts before the 20th.

Fast forward to the other day. I get back from work this time and the Mayor was waiting for me again. "Sir, you REALLY need to get out now." Knew he was serious because they had already torn out the HVAC units and were starting to rip down other parts of the exterior.

Couple of phone calls and with the assistance of 5 of my cops I found a temporary lodging within the hour. Only place open was with two of my NCOs (all my gear is shoved in Tim and my Lt's room). Fortunately for me, their other room mate (live 3 to a room) is back in the states on emergency leave, so I'm sleeping in his bunk (who says rank does not have it's privileges). Hope he doesn't come home until after the 20th.

Returned from work the following day; my hut was gone.

11 January 2010

More Training

One of my Airmen came in the other day and told me he found the pictures from the Combat Life Saver (CLS) course we all took once we arrived in country. As first responders to post attack operations, traffic accidents and other daily law enforcement stuff, the training is invaluable.

Like the title suggests, CLS teaches advanced first aid techniques to treat such things as gun shot wounds, sucking chest wounds, amputations, massive head trauma and severe shock.

The ABCs of first aid: Open Airway; Control Bleeding; Maintain Circulation. CLS is simply basic first aid on steroids.

One important skill was how to hook up an IV. Simple if you are a medic. Not so much for a bunch of cops. As always, my partner was Tim Fearney. While I did alright on him, he had a little trouble figuring out when the needle was in my vein. Not positive, but I don't think there is suppose to be this much blood...

Not bad.

Trust is everything

And he still passed.

04 January 2010


Ask just about anyone who has deployed into a war zone what is the single most important thing that improves their morale. It's mail. Letters, cards, packages. Why? They are real. Tangible. Something you can look at even without electricity.

Today, I received a care package from my parents. Inside were home-made cookies and fudge(complements of Jenna and Mom) along with snacks to share with my troops while watching the Texas Longhorns win the NCAA Ntl Championship later this week.

But it wasn't the treats that made me smile. It was the note my Jenna wrote and put in the box. Made my day. My week.

03 January 2010


About a month ago I experienced something I will NEVER forget.

Just about everyone involved in law enforcement knows what a Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle (TASER) is. So do several unfortunate criminals. Officially classified as a less-than-lethal, pain compliance tool, it is widely used by law enforcement agencies to bring control to chaotic and possible deadly situations without resorting to lethal force. To be certified to carry a TASER, officers must attend an all-day class, pass an exam and "take the ride." While lasting only 5 seconds, the electric jolt surging through your body seems to last an eternity (I locked straight up and felt as if I was going to launch into the ceiling). Incredible pain. Complete loss of muscular and motor skills. Side effects; none. Once the current stops, the pain is gone--but can be reapplied with a simple pull of the trigger as long as the probes are still in. You do, however feel like you have been through and intense full-body workout due to the spontaneous muscle contractions. If it wasn't for the pain, it'd make a great addition to my daily workout routine.

Below is the video of my ride along with a few pics. According to several witnesses, I started to "speak in tongues."

My 5 Second Ride (run twice; buffering might make first run choppy)

TASER fires 2 probes; will penetrate up to a 1/2" into skin, depending on layers of clothing worn.


Direct hit on my spine (second probe thankfully lodged in my belt).

01 January 2010

Updates Since Posting in Early Nov 09

Sorry for delay in updating. I have had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to translate instructions from Arabic to English. Here are a few pics taken since site was last update. More to follow in the next few days.

Display in one of the chow halls (sorry, dining facilities) on Thanksgiving. One thing is for sure; DoD does not hold anything back when serving holiday meals to the troops. The only thing missing was pumpkin pie. Luckily for me they had carrot cake.

Maj Thomas Segars and I in front of our new sign. He set up the first-ever USAF/SF Joint Provost Marshal Office in Afghanistan. It is an Army mission; we provide all law and order functions for a base population of over 25,000 US, Coalition Forces, DoD civilians and local nationals. It's my job not to screw it up.

Thomas and I on eastside of Bagram Airfield. One of only 5 clear days in past 60 days I've been in country.

Hindu Kush Mountain range at sunset. Beautiful.

JPMO station. Complete with outdoor port-a-john (can just see the blue top behind SUV on right). No indoor plumbing. Biggest issues: seat is always cold when you have to go; and hand sanitizer runs out frequently...