Saturday, September 22, 2012

Out of Maiwand

As the title to this post says, I am out of Maiwand.  Now I'm at Kandahar Air Field, or KAF, for a few days.  I'm overdue for a post here because things have been a bit busy.

In my last post, I wrote about putting together a sort of pass-down book on the district.  I finished up what could be done with the book on Wednesday and sent it out to all those who might need it.  The final version was a whopping 67 pages long.  It's written so that my teammates, both military and civilian, can continue to add to it, change it, re-arrange it, and do whatever needs to be done to keep it updated.  I felt good about the project - it was the kind of thing I wish had been available when I first got there.  Finally, I felt like I'd done something to contribute to the effort.

Another thing that I said in the post was that the Afghan security forces were very capable and could do a good job if the government gives them the resources they need.  The day before I left Maiwand, something occurred that illustrates this.  A convoy was moving from one of our bases in the district to another.  All the drivers and the private security team were Afghans.  Just outside the first base, they were ambushed by the Taliban, who shot up the trucks and set a number of them on fire.  The drivers and security forces ran off.  Some Afghan police responded to the call and swooped in.  One of them ran up to an MRAP that had a burning front tire.  While under fire, he jumped in, started it up, and drove it all the way to our base (several miles) to keep it out of Taliban hands.  That, my friends, took guts.  I walked up to the vehicle the next morning and saw the shredded tire, smashed window, and ping marks from all the bullets.  Who says the Afghans aren't brave?

But regardless of Afghan progress, my time in Maiwand was up.  On Thursday morning, I packed up the last bit of my gear and trundled it over to the helo landing zone.  The State Department's trusty old ex-Marine CH-46 helo settled in amid a huge cloud of dust.  My teammate Eric, who'd been at KAF for a couple of days, hopped off.  We shook hands and did the high-5 duty turnover under all the propwash, and then I climbed onboard and belted in.  We lifted off and circled east over the District Center.  I looked out the tailgate and watched Maiwand gradually disappear in the distance.  Another chapter closed.

Here at KAF, I quickly settled into the temporary quarters.  In the spirt of coming full circle, I'm right back in the very same temporary rack as when I first arrived here last October.  I've been in meetings, written reports, and helped out briefers over the past couple of days, trying to make sure that the Powers That Be have an accurate understanding of Maiwand's unique situation.  Next step is getting my own stuff squared away: packing up my gorilla box, throwing some stuff out, and turning off a couple of email accounts.  I've got some friends here that I need to see, so some dinners at the DFAC or coffee at the Green Bean will be in order.

A few days more and Kandahar will be in my rear-view mirror.  

No comments: