Friday, October 21, 2011

Settling In

Kandahar Airfield is a big base, with over 30,000 people running around on it.  The demographics are pretty skewed.  Most of the people are young, in their very early 20's.  Most are male.  Most are Americans.  Most are military.  I meet two of those criteria: male and American, but I'm no longer young and no longer military.  Still, despite the heavy tilt in a few key directions, there's a lot of diversity here, too.  Walk anywhere and you'll pass lots of different soldiers: Belgians, Slovaks, Canadians, French, Australians, Romanians, Czechs, Germans, Dutch, Singaporean, and more.  There are lots of contractors here from nations around the world: Russia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, you name it.  There are a fair number of both military and civilian women.  And there are quite a few graybeards, like me, old fogies who make you wonder what the hell they're doing in a war zone.

And it is a war zone.  We've had a few alarms go off and every day the EOD guys (explosive ordnance disposal) conduct a few controlled detonations.  Recently, there was a rocket attack and the Taliban issued a statement claiming that we had suffered dire casualties.  In reality, it hit the sewage settling lagoon (aka, the "poop pond") and all it took out were some "brown trout".

Kandahar Airfield is my new base of operations for the next year.  I'm part of a mobile team that goes out to various places to help build Afghan capabilities to govern their own country.  I wasn't originally slated for this job.  I was supposed to go to a small team on a forward operating base (a FOB) to work closely with a particular district government.  But when I got here, suddenly they were talking about keeping me here at the headquarters.  Frankly, I wasn't happy.  I've done plenty of headquarters and staff tours - too many - and didn't want to sit around meeting with Americans all day long.  I could do that back in the States.  But then they put me on this mobile team and I'm happy.  It's a new team with some very sharp people, and we're going to be on the road a lot.  I'll get to see a lot of different places here in southern Afghanistan, rather than one particular small base.  Sounds good to me!

My living quarters are still pretty basic.  I'm going to be living in transient quarters for a few weeks since all the permanent rooms are taken.  Transient quarters are CHUs about 8 feet wide and 20 feet long, with two bunk beds in it and not much else.  When you've got four guys living in that small a space, it can get a little ... umm ... "musty".  At the moment, though, it's just two of us, and at least I've got a bottom bunk.  Bathrooms and showers are in another building about 20 yards away.  I'm just happy I'm not on a cot.

It's Friday night now, which means movie night.  Our command gets pizzas and shows movies on the T-walls outside.  Everybody pulls up a chair and enjoys a flick.  They just finished "Last of the Mohicans" and are starting "O Brother Where Art Thou".

So.  I'm checked into my new job and it's a good one with some sharp colleagues.  I've got a pretty good living situation, all things considered.  Gonna be a good year.

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