It has taken awhile, attached are a few photographs I requested from the combat photographer assigned to our command. He is a talented young soldier and a good man.
As you can see from the photos, life here is far from pleasant. My living conditions are much better than theirs. The thing I look forward to most is a daily bowl of oatmeal and a cup of terrible coffee for breakfast. The food for the rest of the meals from the mess hall all tastes the same. If I were to guess, what most of the men in the photographs look forward to, they would simply say, “tomorrow”.
This war in Afghanistan has quietly fallen from the hearts and minds of most Americans, but I know not from yours. I sincerely thank you for that. As MacArthur so wisely reminded us:
“The soldier is the one who prays most fervently for peace for he is the one who has placed his life on the altar of freedom”.
My burns are healing. Last week, work was done to the showers by local Afghan workers. I am now convinced they are Taliban and reversed the dual Hot and Cold knobs on purpose. In an instant, I was scalded down the front of my chest and received 1st degree burns complete with large blisters and pain. The worst places I applied bandages with 1st aid ointment. I knew that was necessary due to once removed, they were yucky. I now approach the showers differently. I go through a long start-up and shut-down process to prevent future incidents.
I purchased a new knife here in our little PX. It is the Benchmade “330 Infidel”. Besides really liking the name, it is a spring loaded stiletto with a 4 inch blade. I’ve used it to remove staples so far.
As I experienced during my time in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, people stink. I hope I do not, but might. Thirty years ago, I told Pam not to throw away my bottle of “Hi Karate” and “Old Spice” cologne for I could use it now. I am convinced the smell has to due to the food or the poor laundry process. I have been told that they do not use detergent because of possible bomb making potential. Damn those IEDs and the bastards who are responsible for them! So many of our good men and women are killed and severely injured by the cowards who make, plant, and install them. I read all the causality reports every day. I consolidate them and send them forward. You have no idea the horror I read. It even makes my cold heart sad.
The other night’s “Fallen Hero” ceremony was especially difficult.
Because of on IED, six good men sent home to God leaving their comrades and families to morn their loss. It does not matter how many of these ceremonies I attend, tears fall and I am unashamed. I refuse to miss any for that is the very least I can do for those who have done their duty. You can tell when things are to go badly. The night previously, I knew something evil this way comes when I first heard than saw multiple MEDIVAC choppers land and take off at the field hospital here in Bagram not far from my office. Unfortunately, I predict the situation here will only get worse as we draw closer to leaving this miserable place.
Fortunately, tomorrow will be new and no one knows what it will bring.
I pray for protection, safety and success for our men and women in harms’ way. It is sad to note that I replaced the word “victory” with “success” in the previous sentence. There will be no victory in this place called Afghanistan. We the United States military are a decisive fighting force, period! We make our mistake(s) when we linger AFTER the victory trying to diplomatically dabble in democratic experimentation.
It is time to return to the “speak softly and carry a big stick” era, no more country building. Never works except to create a cesspool of greed, corruption, criminal activity and a considerable drain of our National treasure. Too often that includes the loss of treasure bled from our closest allies.
Today is a new day. Maybe, just maybe, it will be a good day.
CJTF-1, ID, CJ5 Assessments
Task Force Defender
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan
APO, AE 09354