Friday, February 24, 2012

Welcome to my first official update from Afghanistan,

I have been in country for about 6 days now. We flew from Fredericton to Paphos, Cyprus, via commercial charter, with a stopover in Leipzig, Germany, to refuel. Once in Cyprus, we got on a military aircraft and flew to Kabul, with one stop for refueling and to change crews. The flights were pretty comfortable and total transit time was only about 30 hours.
Once in Kabul, we spent some time at the airport and made our way to a staging camp where we would prepare to be pushed out to the camps we would operate out of for the tour. We were in this admin camp for two days. It was pretty good. The food was delicious, there were about 200 of us in a warehouse full of bunk beds, but it was warm, all around not too bad. I was able to purchase a cell phone here and peruse some Afghan shops between briefings. When we were done our administration, we convoyed our way to Camp Blackhorse, which is where I am now.

Blackhorse is a small camp East of Kabul. There are about 17 countries that operate out of this camp, which makes for a very interesting community. The food here is pretty good, not as good as the larger camp, but adequate. We are surrounded by an ANA camp, so our perimeter is very safe, which is nice and makes our lives easier.

I have spent the past few days reading up on my team of Afghans and all the notes my counterpart wrote for me. I was lucky to take over from an RCR officer – my handover was very detailed. Today, I finally went out with my team. We were running our Kandak (Afghan Battalion) through personal weapons ranges. Let me tell you, it is pretty nerve racking to be surrounded by hundreds of Afghans who are carrying live ammo, weapons and are firing them. We got along fine, though. I spent most of the day talking with the team members and trying to build some rapport with them, while adjusting the sights of the Kandak soldiers weapons. I spent an equal amount of time sunburning my face, as we were operating in a tight, snow filled, valley. The reflection from the snow ruined all our faces.
My counterpart leaves in a few days, so luckily I am getting a grip on what is going on. Basically, I am the middle man between the ANA, Canada, Germany, Romania, Croatia and Jordan. It is a pretty miraculous balancing act, but we seem to be able to reach at least a 50% solution (an Afghan 50% solution, that is).

Hope you all are doing well. I will send along my address in the next message, if you feel like sending a care package.

I hope my next update will be more detailed, but my time is limited at the moment.