February 25, 2009

Name: Michael Brameld
Posting date: 2/25/09
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: A Year in the Sandbox

A few weeks ago we went to check out sites for future schools at some villages in the Achin district. We found the first village no problem, but in our vehicles we couldn’t get to where the school site was supposed to be. We tried a few different ways of coming at it, but there was a ditch in the way. Finally we decided to just walk to it.

Framed Brameld Achin dog 1 I was on security and kid-entertainment duty. This was the first place I juggled for kids, and they didn’t run away when I picked up the rocks. :-) They brought a dog over to me and told me I could take him back to Jalalabad with me. He was really sweet. They said his name was Mazique.

He was really skittish. When I reached to pet him he shied away, but he stayed and wagged his tail. Once I started petting him he warmed up a little bit. When I stood up from petting him one of the kids kicked him right in the face! No wonder he’s so shy.

I pushed the kid away and told him no, but he just laughed and said yes. Afghans in general seem to not think too much of animals. I’ve seen other dogs get rocks thrown at them and kicked, but they’re domesticated and not wild, so at some point the Afghans must have treated them better.

Framed Brameld Achin valley 2 We left that village and made our way toward a village called Watch Kowt. It was way up in the mountains and we didn’t have a clear route to get there, but we tried anyway. We drove up through an amazing valley towards the village. At one point we stopped to check the map and figure out how to get where we wanted to go. We could see where we wanted to be on the other side of the river valley, but there was no way to get over there, and the valley was full of terraced fields. The only way we could see was a few miles up and then back across the mountain, so we went for it.

On the way up there we passed a road that cut back across the valley and looked like it might take us where we wanted to be, but the road we were on was right on the side of the mountain and too narrow to turn the trucks around on. So we pressed on.

Framed Brameld Achin village 3 We eventually made it up to where the road that cut back across the mountain was supposed to be. It was right in the middle of this village built on the side of the mountain, about 5km from the Pakistan border. We looked for the road, but it turned out to be a goat trail that was too narrow for the 1151s.* We had the interpreter ask some people there if it was possible to get to where we wanted to go from there and they said no.

I was talking to one of our interpreters while they were trying to sort out what we were going to do next. He was really nervous about being there and kept telling me we needed to leave as soon as possible. He also told me this was the first time the PRT* had been up to that village, so they don’t see Americans very often. The people seemed friendly enough, or at least curious. We left them with some Humanitarian Aid stuff we had, got our trucks turned around, and headed back down the mountain.

The trip back to the FOB was pretty uneventful despite the interpreter’s fears. There were a few hairy points on the road coming down, but nobody fell off the mountain.


1151s: four-seat version of the up-armored HMMWV

PRT: Provincial Reconstruction Teams


That was so nice of you to tell that child, "no" don't hurt the dog. I am a dog person even though I don't have any dogs. That was also nice of you to go up the mountain as far as you guys could go. At least the village got some nice company. I wish you guys could have made it to where you needed to go.

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