Friday, December 31, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Ammo Themed Package Ever

A good friend, Scott, sent me a care package with jerky, a hat, and some reading material. Nothing unusual about that. Right? Take a look:

He sent it through the mail in an Ammo Can! That is a standard metal ammo can that, normally, holds ammo for an M249 SAW, A064, ctg 5.56mm 4x1. Whodathunk it would pass muster in this day and age. Scott is one a helluva guy. Wise in the way of ammo, I seek his counsel all the time back at Fort Riley.

One more hat for the collection.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shopping At NKC

More pictures of the Bazaar.

In the stall pictured above I was able to get my wife a couple of nice items.

The PX is a 40 foot trailer. They have a surprising selection considering its size. Most essentials are available.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Dinner

The Dining Facility put out another fancy spread for us today. Roast beef, turkey, ham, traditional fixin's, and a ton of different desserts. I only ate the one big meal today - turkey, ham, mac-n-cheese, green bean casserole, mashed potatos, dressing, cranberry sauce, and a dinner roll. I finished with a helping of peach cobbler topped with whipped cream.  All of it was washed down with a Coke Zero.

Standing in the new addition to the DFAC.

Barry getting ready to chow down. I am lucky to have him working with me. An old retired ammo CW3, he keeps me sane when things get stressful.
Sitting with Don. He is a contractor out of Fort Carson who works in J-4 for DA G-8. He's a great conversationalist from Pennsylvania. Again, I am lucky to work with a guy like him. His knowledge, stories and demeanor help the time go by. 

At the back of the room there were several stacks of packages that americans sent over for soldiers. They contained mostly comfort items - snacks, hygiene related goods, etc. Note that the first pictures here show only locals and third country nationals rifling through the stuff.

From this angle I was able to get a shot of some american soldiers having a crack at getting some of the goodies. Note in the left foreground some of the desserts - this was only a small part of what was offered.

Anyway, I wanted to make a comment about the comfort items sent from the states. The american people are very generous. They send all kinds of stuff, and lots of it, as you can see above. I , typicaly, never take anything as I believe these things are for the soldiers. I just hope that most of the packages sent into Theater make it to the FOBs and COPs where they are really needed.

As I mentioned above, you can see what looks like a disproportionate amount of "non" americans helping themselves. Some would say it is good "COIN" for them to take the stuff. We always have locals and TCNs, to include coalition forces, come by to enjoy our bounty. I'll leave the COIN discussion for the experts who are better qualified to address this -  as it should be. I think that, from a social perspective, that in this case, our generosity is being wasted. Certainly the american people's wishes are not being met.

Maybe this is better discussed in a different post at a different time.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Packages From Home

On occasion we get packages from friends and loved ones. Sometimes from complete strangers. They are all greatly appreciated. Usually the contents are food and candy. Most of the time the goodies don't last long because they are shared amongst friends. They fill the stomach and warm the heart.

Another picture of our "kitchen". Today Barry recieved his Christmas package from home. As you can see our food supply has grown substantially.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Food At NKC And In The Office

One of the best things at NKC is also a curse. We have a first rate Dining Facilty in the admin building just one flight of stairs down from my office. The food is very good and there's plenty of it. Since we live like sardines (packed in metal boxes) and the only other place to hang out is the office folks typically gravitate to the Dining Facilty, when its open, just to get away. There are TVs there, soft drinks of every kind, cakes, pies, fresh fruit, condiments and, of course, Baskin Robbins ice cream. This, as well as the food on the main line, short order line and salad bar. So it is no wonder that people tend to add to their weight when they are here. The living conditions and stress are certainly enablers.

I decided this past month to reduce my meals to one a day; and even then trying to steer away from carbs. I do grab a pop-tart or something in the morning to cushion the daily blow of the doxycycline anti-biotics, but thats it.

When we get the munchies late at night we snack up in the office:

The "kitchen" in the J-4 Munitions Office.

A close up of the gift George sent over. Thank you, George. Too bad you couldn't send any Yakimandu.

I don't know if I've lost any wieght but at least I've stopped gaining it (as far as I know). The coffee, chips, salsa, and sport drink mixes keep us going during those long shifts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The USO Visit To NKC

Here are some pictures from today's USO visit. The only "performance" was by Robin Williams. He did about a 10 minute standup routine. He, of course, was as funny as ever.

Lewis Black 

Robin Williams mentioned that people say he looks like Bono when he wears those glasses.

Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn.

My Thoughts On Celebrity

I will not gush or fawn over an individual because they are just famous for being famous (Paris? Lindsay? Fabio? What have you done for me or the world lately?). If I enjoy it and there is a general positive benefit to what they say or do I will openly, and without reservation, acknowledge that. I think that success should be acknowledged and respected if it contributes to the betterment of individuals and to society as a whole.
Most “famous” people when viewed at a personal level are very much different from me and cannot relate to my niche in the world. I think Robin Williams is a very, very funny and talented person. I think his extraordinary acting skills are overshadowed, unfairly, by his comedic skills. However, if we were to plop down together somewhere in my world, either in a work shop strewn with excavation equipment off highway 244 or a garage near old highway 40 or even at the counter in my kitchen in rural Geary county, we would sit there and probably just stare at each other.
I was disappointed a bit today as one so called “celebrity’ did not make it to NKC as planned. P4 was supposed to come by but was unable to because of mission requirements. P4 is the nickname for GEN Patraeus. It is en vogue around here to nickname General Officers with the first letter of their last name and the number of stars they have. Whatever… In any case, though not a true celebrity, I was really interested in hearing what he had to say. He may not have made me laugh as hard as Lewis Black or Robin Williams but that’s OK. We have a more intrinsic reason to connect. We have the same goals and knowing where we stand on those goals has more value than a few passing moments of levity.
After all this, I must say, I really appreciate the people that came to visit NKC today. I mean that sincerely. Some are wealthy beyond imagination and need not come here at all. Some, I’m sure, came for the recognition while others came because they truly support the troops if not the mission. All in all I think this is a positive thing and they should be recognized for it. 
For what it’s worth I thank the USO and the following:
Mr. Lance Armstrong
Mr. Lewis Black
Mr. Kix Brooks
Mr. Bob Dipiero
Ms. Kathleen Madigan
Mr. Robin Williams

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Nightly Bathroom Ensemble

I choose to shower at night. Most nights I get back to the metal box about 2200 after work . Showering at that time usually means that the shower containers are mostly empty and there is hot water available. It takes 74 steps to get to the closest one. This time of year its in the low 30s or upper 20s when I go out.

This what I wear.

Years from now two old GI buddies will meet and reminisce about the old days. One will turn to the other and say "You remember back at NKC and that weird guy that walked around carrying his toiletries in that orange plastic pumpkin?". His buddy will say "Yeah. He was weird. Civilian guy, right? Always wore swimming trunks in the cold too. I wonder what happened to him?".  Little will they know I was in Kansas living happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The hats one wears in my line of work. Things are getting better here but I miss the hat on the left. I'm getting tired of the hat on the right. Mostly I'm thankful I haven't had to don the one in the back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

Their justification was crap. In the interest of supporting the soldiers I used my best judgement and gave them what they wanted anyway. The amount was within guidelines and the NEW (Net Explosive Weight) was acceptable.  They're busy and have a war to fight. Right? Why be an ass and kick it back for a more detailed, thought-out justification? The lack of specifics in the write up spelled "routine" to me. They'll get their supply in due time. Right ? Nope. Of course not.

They need the stuff yesterday.

I lost a lot of cool points with the people responsible for getting the stuff moved.

I'm going to bed with a headache tonight...again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tough Week + * UPDATED *

Since Thursday, 2 December, I have been placed in a unique position. I can't elaborate at this point but I need to express my fatigue and frustration from the effects of the last 10 days. I believe I have put in over 75 hours overtime since then. I pray it culminates tomorrow.

The first few days sleep came easy but now I can't turn off my mind when I return to my metal box. I lay sleepless wondering what this is all about and why it came to be. Things are functioning and nothing is falling through the cracks, per se. It is a high price to pay. I wasn't ready but I am pulling it off. By 1800 everday I am wiped out. Excuse my rant - more to follow.


The tough period is over. Since 2 December I was the only one, besides the TAMIS contractor, in the Munitions Office. Technically I was the number one ammo guy in Theater. This was because the boss was TDY out of country like the top Ammo Tech who has been gone since late October. I may have been numero uno but I certainly wasn't, in my opinion, the most qualified. I never expected to be put in this kind of position during the deployment. I handled it alright - as far as I know. The pressure and the Theater level staff responsibilities were difficult to handle. I've taken the courses and I have served in similiar positions but with only 70 or so days here it was quite an adventure. The boss returned this morning and we are still functioning. I've learned a lot and have a better situational awareness. I'm sure I will sleep better now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pictures From Inside New Kabul Compound

My first home at NKC. I stayed here 2 weeks. Luckily I had a bottom bunk. There are several tents like this for newbies. They are full of bunkbeds, not much else. I understand some have storage boxes. This one, tent number 5, did not.

A row of containerized latrines. This where one goes to do the three "S" s. They are described in a little bit more detail in an earlier post.

The view as you exit tent number 5. Directly in front is the Chapel tent. They had choir practice on some nights and services on other nights. Though sometimes loud they never kept me awake long.

On the hill in the background are Afghan houses. Every morning when I walked out from my tent it made me nervous to think that there might be someone watching me from up there.

One of the water points scattered around the compound. Bottled water is what we use to drink and brush our teeth with. Once in a while I'll carry a case to the office for coffee.

NKC is compartmentalized with "T" barriers and hesco baskets to mitigate the effects of indirect fire.

The wall in the distance is not an outer wall. It is close though. The green material on top is used to mask activity within NKC and to keep snipers from drawing a bead on you. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bazaar

Every Sunday from 1000 until 1600 the local merchants come to NKC to sell their wares. They set up just inside one of the Entry Control Points (ECP). The area is separated from the rest of the compound. Here are a few pictures.

No, he's not selling those generators in the back. He certainly would like to get his hands on one though. If he can only figure out how to get one up under his man dress and abscond with it.

We buy a lot of scarves, hats, and blankets from this guy. That's my room mate negotiating a deal.
Some lapis. A local semi-precious stone.

This is the generator guy again. I got some interesting Buddha stuff for my wife from him.

More stuff.

Rugs. Still expensive over here. I think they come from Pakistan or Iran.

Lapis and some turquoise jewelry.

This is the same stand as in the above picture. I bought some lapis jewelry for my wife from this guy. Note the lapis bowls behind him on the table.