The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


November 01, 2006

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa, USAF
Posting date: 10/31/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url:

I feel very much like the guys probably did in WWII who flew on bomber missions. They were safe at the home bases, but when they set out on their mission they were vulnerable. Whether they found their target or not, whether they hit the target or not, whether they even dropped their bombs or not, they still had to make the trip, and it was the trip that was so dangerous. We form up each morning, hoping that if there is an emergency our cell phones will actually work. Fifteen men looking a bit grimmer each day, fully armored up, bristling with weapons, knowing full well that if a bomb hits us, there won’t be anyone to shoot at. There never is. So each morning we head out, much as the men in the B-17s did many years ago, hoping to return that evening. 

As we head out the gate, we show the guards we have our gloves on (they actually check) and head out into the chaos that is the road system of Kabul. Any vehicle parked along the road could be a suicide bomber. It might suddenly pull out, try to pull up alongside, and blow up. We look for new piles of rubble, or a rock that wasn’t there the day before. That’s like saying you look for new leaves on the ground in October. We go as fast as possible, passing the endless lines of slow-moving trucks that impede our progress. Each time traffic slows, we look at the faces of all the people around us. Anyone look like they have a vest of explosives on them? Anyone coming nearer than they should? Here’s a chokepoint, look around, anything new here? We hit the speed bumps as fast as we can without destroying our vehicle. More speeding and dodging, trying not to hit the idiots on bikes that weave out in front of us. We finally pull in to CMA and live to fight another day.

We’ll repeat the process on the way home. One more mission down. But unlike the bomber crews, we don’t get to stop at 25 or 50 missions. Furthermore, our bombers don’t even have bombs in them. We just keep flying missions until they let us go home. The good thing is that Camp Phoenix rarely gets attacked, since other bases around here are more vulnerable. So when we get home, it is pretty safe. At least I haven’t had to worry about a rocket attack. Not yet. Knock wood.


I recently received an email from a Soldier that I support who is at Camp Eggers. He attached a photo taken from the vehicle as they were driving down the street. In his email he asked me to look and decided if the person in the burka was really a woman or was it a man? Did the satchel he/she was carrying have explosives in it? Was the air tank on the side of the road really used as an air tank? Was "that pile" of garbage there yesterday? Would the guy on the motorcycle in front of them continue forward or slow down and pull beside them, etc. He, too, explained about the traffic just as you did.

I cannot imagine the stress. You guys/gals are THE BEST. Please know that so many of us "back here" appreciate you, respect you and THANK YOU for being there. Same goes to your families.

Stay safe and thanks for sharing your reality with all of us!

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