Rain, Generals, Meetings and TV

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It has rained several times since I have been here, but not near as hard as it did today. We got a little bit of rain the last couple of days, but mostly just light sprinkling. We have had lots of high clouds comes through and they usually arrive with high winds. The winds have been brutal the last 5-6 nights always starting around 3-4PM every day and going until 10PM. June starts what the Afghans call “120 days of wind” and I now see why. We thought it would start at the beginning of June, but it looks like July-Aug is the peak. Anyway, today after doing some assessments of the construction work we are having done at the front gate, Maj D and I went to visit with the Kandak Commander. While we were in there, the sky ripped open and it poured water like I have not seen since a summer downpour in the states. It drenched anyone that was outside for more than 20 seconds. Of course when this started, we told the Kandak Commander that we may visit with him a little while longer, and we did.

Earlier this morning I was woken up and asked if I could mobilize some ANA to help guard our heli-pad for 10th MTN General that was flying in to do a … Continue reading

Busy as beavers…

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I have not posted any blog entries in a few days because we have been very busy here. If I am not out on a mission, then I am getting ready for one or getting mail…which has been a mission in itself. I have not even talked to my family in days, when I at least talk to them every other day if not every day. We have had some good intel lately and had some missions planned which were cancelled or just delayed. This is Afghanistan, and this is a war…so there are lots of bad people out there and we have been working hard at trying to trick them up and kill ‘em. If it were up to some in the ANA organization it would be easy because as far as they are concerned we can kill anything moving after 10 PM at night. However, we as Americans don’t work that way, because lord knows the press would hang us out to dry.

So we set up ambushes and other traps to catch people at night and hopefully surprise them and then see how they act. If they are innocents that are just out after curfew when they are not supposed to be, they will be able to live another day but will get a stern butt-chewing from the ANA. If they venture into our forces and return fire or try to run, then it is game-on. Anyone that is out late at night, driving around without … Continue reading

Farewell Top

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DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier
who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st Sgt. Christopher C. Rafferty, 37, of Brownsville, Pa., died on July 21 in Sharana, Afghanistan of injuries sustained on July 20, when his
unit encountered small arms fire during combat operations. Rafferty was
assigned to 37th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C.

On the 21st, I wrote an entry titled “Early start, late ending…” and at the conclusion of that entry, I said I would write more later but could not at that time. I could not, because I cannot discuss soldiers killed in action before DOD has a chance to notify the families and then publishes the notice I have above. That morning we went looking for these bad guys because we had intel they may be staging an attack. That night we responded when they did attack. This time, they got lucky in a couple different ways.

They got lucky that we did not find them early that morning, and they got lucky when they killed a great soldier like 1SG Rafferty. I did not know him, but I knew of him. Our FOB is right next to the 37th’s FOB and we work with them a lot. We shoot on their ranges, we pick up our mail from them, they fix our vehicles, and like the other night we respond on a moments notice to help them out as they … Continue reading

Mail Call and the Heat

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Today was even a bigger mail day than before. I received several postcards, envelopes with items in them and a total of twelve (12) boxes today. Ten of them were from wonderful people associated with Books for Soldiers, one was from family and one was from my good buddy Jon W. in the big D (Dallas TX). In a previous post I talked about the Books for Soldiers website and referred to the people that sent me stuff from there as complete strangers. I now think that was not the right choice of words. I would not call them complete strangers, but instead as good friends I have not met yet. The whole team got a ton of stuff today from those boxes. Movies, magazines, books, food of every type, spices, cooking utensils, stickers, magnets, calendars, post cards, and on, and on, and on. I have some pics of before box opening and after-box opening in the pictures section.

See the reason I got so many at one time, is apparently in Baghram Airfield (BAF) which is the main incoming/outgoing point for country, and where all mail comes into country at the mail was held up. The official word is that they were throwing mail into a conex waiting for enough to build up to push it forward and they either forgot about a conex they had full or they kept filling it and forgetting about the older stuff in back. Either way they just found it and have … Continue reading

Update on things we could use and don’t need right now

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I just wanted to send an update on where we are and what we need and don’t need. We are good on the flav-o-ice Popsicle things. We have over a 100 that are not even in freezers because the freezers are full. No more need for them right now. We are also pretty good on the small 1 oz bottles of hand sanitizer. We don’t need pop-tarts as we get lots of them through regular channels. I know some people want to make sure they send stuff that is needed and I don’t want people wasting money on things we don’t or on shipping costs when they don’t need to. I hope this list helps.

Some things we could use are:
1. Pancake mix that only needs water
2. long oven mitts that go up to the elbow. ( our outdoor grill is big and we are steadily losing all hair below the elbow).
3. cans of cheez-it. That non-refridgeration needed canned cheese.
4. sliced pepperoni
5. of course spices, recipes, etc like that
6. plasticware of spoons.
7. canned air for computers and weapons
8. one a day vitamins for men
9. Chewable Vitamin C
10. Gold Bond Foot Powder and the body powder
11. lens paper and lens cleaner for optics, scopes, goggles, Ballistic glasses and night vision devices

Early start, late ending…

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The start of my day yesterday was early, and the ending was late. In the middle was boring and relaxing at the same time. For OPSEC reasons I have to keep this pretty sterile and will try to do that but get the message across.

The day started at 0300 AM for an early mission start. We had to go out with a large force and look for some bad guys that we heard about. The mission was a bust because the guys (idiots) that were supposed to take us there got lost and we went to the wrong mud huts. Of course the wonderfully smart and experienced ANP (NOT!!) decided to search these kulats anyway and in order to save face PUCed a guy (PUC means Person Under Confinement, i.e. arrest) because he had two weapons in his home which were legal. But they could not go back empty handed so they had to come back with someone. Aren’t you glad our country has laws against such idiocy. Regardless of that FUBAR mission, we did do one good thing. There was a small girl with burns over 30% of her body from something, so we convinced the ANA to give up a truck and run her and her parents into the hospital. We put some burn bandages on her and I gave her a little beanie baby that my brother and his family sent me for the kids over here. After that they whisked her away and … Continue reading

MAIL CALL!!!!

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The words spoken by many a First Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant in the history of the Army. I have always said to many of my US soldiers during my career and to the Afghan NCOs more recently that it does not matter what country a soldier is from there are only a few things that motivate a soldier and keeps them happy in the worse of conditions. Those are good hot chow, being paid, time off, and mail call. Of course the latter of those is more important to US soldiers who have a mail system than it is for Afghans who really don’t have a mail system.

Earlier tonight I put up a post, but after I heard those words MAIL CALL, I had to drop one more post tonight. I have been expecting some mail for a while because of all the emails, IMs, and postings on booksforsoldiers.com that I have seen which said boxes were on the way. Mail has been delayed the last few days because of some shots taken at a helicopter recently.

So tonight it rained and poured those red, white, and blue flat rate boxes from our beloved USPS. I personally received 7 boxes and about 5 letters/cards. The ironic thing is that our of 7 boxes, only one was from my family. The rest were from a bunch of wonderful people that are members of Continue reading

Their Thursday night is our Saturday night

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The Afghanistan calendar is a little bit different than ours. Their week starts on a Saturday, which means Friday is their “Sunday” and Thursday night is our “Saturday night”. What I mean by that is that just like Saturday night is the night a lot of people go out, party, or do whatever, that is what they do on Thursday night. Friday is our down day as they use it to relax, clean weapons, barracks, catch up on laundry, go downtown to buy things or even use that day to take off and head home on leave.

Just as in our country, where Saturday nights mean parties, drunks on the road and weird things happening in nightclubs and house parties, the same is going on here. This has caused us to nickname “Thursday Night Man Love night”. We love to joke with our terps about this and mess with each other when it is a Thursday. When I say “mess with each other” we will joke like “hey are you getting dressed up tonight, because you know it is Thursday?” or something like, “hey, is your terp coming by for a meeting tonight, because it is Thursday?”.

It does not matter what the Koran says about homosexuality, it is rampant here. Just like in the US where people ignore the bible where it talks homosexuality, and still practice it and practice their faith. According to my terp Aziz, this southern area of A-stan if very heavy in homosexual … Continue reading

Paperwork and meetings

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Not much of a day today, pretty quiet all around. I am sure that is something my family likes to hear. Had a lot of paperwork to catch up on with the terps and all. The terps are allowed 4 days off a month to go home, but since we are so far from Kabul where they all live 4 days is not enough when they have to bum rides with the ANA to get back there. So we combine their 4 days per month together from a 2 month stay of 8 days. Yesterday I had to sit down with them all and pencil on a calendar who was going when and all of those details. So today I had to build a calendar and spreadsheet to track all of that. It is a pain because we have to track for which month they take their for days. We are also putting together some training plans for the ANA so I had to work on that also.

I did have a good meeting with the Zabita Kandak (that is Dari for Command Sergeant Major) whom I mentor. He just got back from Emergency Leave in Kabul a few days ago so we have not had a chance to meet yet. He and I walked around the FOB and talked about a variety of issues. For me it was like Déjà vu since the things we talked about where just about identical to the things I talked to the … Continue reading

Easy way to read blogs *UPDATED*

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This is a just an FYI entry to let all who read this know there are much easier way to read blogs, like via RSS readers. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, and has been a technology available for a while (originally developed by Netscape) but just not real popular until the last couple of years. I know many like to come to my site to see the webcam and the pics so this tip may not be for you. But if you would like to know when I update this Afghan Blog, you can either use your existing RSS Reader, download many of the free ones out on the internet or add this to the content of something like your Yahoo personalized page. The URL to get this blog via RSS is http://www.bouhammer.com/nucleus/afghanrss.php

You can also check out that cool site I mentioned before called at www.milblogging.com. My site is registered there and when I update the blog here, it also updates the entry on that site also.

RSS is great for people who follow a lot of blogs or just like to have updates to websites delivered to them rather than going to each one and reading it. For example, in my RSS feeds I have latest Yahoo Buffalo Bills news, latest Buffalo Sabres news, latest updates from foxnews.com, latest updates from … Continue reading