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.


July 20, 2009

Name: Old Blue
Posting date: 7/20/09
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: Afghan Quest

I arrived back in Afghanistan today after the most grueling trip I’ve ever had to get halfway around the world. Kuwait was hairdryer-hot, moving as an individual is murderous, and there are many moving parts. But after sitting in Kuwait for only about a day suddenly everything took off at a rapid pace. Kudos to CSTC-A for having a liaison at Bagram who received us and pushed us on to Kabul in just about twelve hours. Nice.

I tried to publish from Kuwait, but couldn’t get it done. The internet there just absolutely blows.

Bagram has changed a fair amount. One DFAC torn down to make room for tents, the dining facility moved across Disney. The stop signs at Four Corners are gone. Nice for traffic on Disney, not so nice for those on the cross street or pedestrians. It is still a world unto itself. Still a sniper check salute zone.

There will be more information on what I’m actually doing here and why in the near future. I am very very tired and just need to get some rest. It was a marathon getting here, and I’ve been fighting off a respiratory infection the whole way. Nothing like being in heat so hot that you feel like you need to move to get away from the heating element (but it’s all around you) and being sick at the same time.

For now, let’s just say that I am trying to do what I can to make a difference in Afghanistan this year. It’s all that I can do to influence something that I believe in. It’s not enough to sit by and talk about it. I had to do something. Some things are worth fighting for; and when they are, it’s time to fight. If not me, who? If not now, when?

So I said, “Here I am, send me.”

And they did. So here I am.

Next day:

After I finally got to sleep last night I slept for a good ten hours in a temporary room. Whew.

The temporary room was comfortable, and it had furniture. No chair, but it had a desk, a bed, a very nice wall locker of local manufacture, and another piece of furniture of plywood construction which is more of a standard B-hut furnishing. Today I moved into another temporary room in another building which is more like a barracks with a hallway and private rooms off of it. It is linked to another similar building by the shower and latrine facility, which is very impressive for Afghanistan. Nicely tiled, clean and roomy.

The room I moved into is very clean. It is also nearly clean of furniture, the only furnishing being a bunk bed. My duffel bags and ruck sack are my furniture. That and a purloined body armor stand which now proudly holds my armor and helmet in the corner near the door. The whole room is about the size of a commercial broom closet. Again; it is clean, lockable and mine. For now. They tell me I will get a larger room soon when some people move out. I will look forward to that, but this is fine in the meantime. I’m grateful, in fact.

The camp here is extremely nice. Small, but very nice. It is calm and sensible, too. None of the usual “too close to the flagpole” shenanigans. Whew. More on that another time.

I got to meet many of the other people on the team today, and they all seemed happy that I am here (finally.) This process has literally taken months and months. I haven’t written about it because it could have come apart at the seams at any point along the way, and that would have been difficult to explain at best or could have appeared to be BS at worst. Not wanting that complication, I thought it best to keep it to myself. In any case, they have been expecting me here for a long time, and now I’m finally here.

It’s a great mission. Hopefully we can make a difference and hopefully I can be helpful with that. I can tell you that I am doing something that I deeply believe in. Again, more on that later. I promise this all makes sense.

I got to see my first camel spider of the second tour tonight. One of the young’uns down the hall started yelling, “Hey, come look at this! What is that thing? It’s huge!” I walked down the hall and there it sat, looking at me as if to say, “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you!”

The young’un shoo’d it out the door without harming it.

Yep, I’m in Afghanistan again. It feels oddly normal. One difference that I’ve noticed is that there are more lights at night in Kabul. That’s a small sign, but the electricity that we Americans take for granted has been hit or miss here, even in the capitol. To see lights on in such a broad area of Kabul at night means something’s being done. There is obviously a lot that needs to be done, but it’s a good sign on the infrastructure side.

On a separate note, Vampire 6 left the country last night. We missed each other. He was probably at Bagram while I was waiting for my flight to Kabul. Godspeed for a safe trip home, Vampires. Job well done. Don’t ever think for a minute that it doesn’t matter. It does. Baton passed. I got it.

Old Blue has been a frequent contributor to The Sandbox, both during and after his previous deployment. Here are a few of his posts:








Glad to read you've made it safely. Doing the best you can to make a positive change is a worthy endeavor!

Glad to know you are there and rested. Wonderful to hear that electricity is getting more widespread. Infrastructure is not sexy, but so important. So are the other signs of civility you mentioned.

Thank you for being there yet again. Be safe. I have faith that your mission will succeed.

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