I know I am a little late on posting to my blog, but I returned from a boondoggle out to Mazar-e-Sharif in the Northern provinces. I even have some pictures to post with this entry.
First, let me recap last week. We did make a normal trip to NDS. It was actually a clear, cool morning which is a rarity here in Kabul. The pollution is so thick that it is very rare to see the distant mountains. So, here is a picture of the snow-capped mountains, west of Kabul. This picture was taken last Monday. I haven’t seen the mountains since.
From NDS looking west
This is looking past NMH from NKC
This is supposed to be a picture of me in front of the snow-capped peaks...
Me as the lead driver trying to ease through traffic and pedestrians in Kabul
Other than that, it was a normal week of mentoring. There are always little things to work on and improve in the OT.
Friday was another violent day here in Kabul. The Taliban used a SVBIED outside Camp Phoenix a little before 0800. There were no American casualties, but there were injuries. You can read about it online. Here's hoping the Presidential Inauguration will be less violent than the actual elections.
Now, for the boondoggle...
Early Saturday morning, several of us left to go to Mazir-e-Sharif (MES) to visit the US Mentors there and help with some assessments of the ANA Regional Hospital there. It was a long trip. We spent 4 or 5 hours at KAIA before we finally left on a German C-160. We made a stop in Kundez, then arrived at Camp Marmal, which is the German base an airfield. The flight in to land was different. We wear our IBA & Helmets on the plane. When we are getting ready to land, it is like we drop out of the sky. The IBA becomes 200 pounds, it gets difficult to breathe and it gets hot. That is from all the G's we are pulling for evasive maneuvers to land. needless to say, there were multiple people using the air sickness bags. We arrived 3 hours late. We were supposed to get on a convoy to Camp Spann, which is where the US Mentors are located. The convoy was leaving as we were getting off the plane. We didn't know it was the last convoy of the day, so we had to spend the night at Camp Marmal in transient tents. Here are pictures of the German and international memorial:
On sunday morning, we got up early to eat breakfast and catch the convoy to Camp Spann. Well, Holly and I got bumped for a Canadian General and his entourage. There wasn't enough room for all of us so we got to wait another 5 hours for the next convoy. Finally, on Sunday afternoon we got a ride on the convoy to Camp Spann. It is riding in the back of MRAP's. I wouldn't want to do it everyday. It is an hour convoy. We had maybe one-half hour of daylight left once we got there. I know most of the mentors that are in MES, so we had supper together and swapped war stories.
On Monday, we had a chance to see the regional ANA hospital. It is a new facility, less than 3 years old. We helped the Chief Nurse there with some assessments, then it was time for lunch. After lunch, it was jump back on the convoy to Camp Marmal for our Tuesday flight.
We had an very early show time for our flight back to Kabul, 0510. We left about 2 hours later and once again stopped in Kundez. We got off the C-160 for 30 minutes or so and stood on the runway before getting back on and flying to Kabul. The evasive maneuvers weren't quite as drastic as the previous flights, but people were still getting sick. We had to wait around at KAIA for a little while until we could catch a ride back to NKC. We got back around lunch. It was a long trip, but well worth it to get away from Kabul for a few days and see more of Afghanistan.
It is almost time to begin the countdown for leaving here. Once our replacements graduate from Fort Polk, I will begin the countdown...
Until next week...