Friday, March 18, 2011

Some Notes On Redeployment

Let me take this opportunity to list some random thoughts and notes concerning my redeployment. I started my journey at 0800 on 14 March.

Combat Drive Team: No issues traveling to North KAIA (Kabul Afghanistan International Airport) from NKC. It took just a few minutes.

North KAIA: North KAIA is a NATO run installation. It is, as noted in it's name, on the north side of Kabul's International Airport. The Departure Terminal was clean, organized and run somewhat efficiently. My flight was scheduled and the call time was at about 1300. I was scheduled on a STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) flight to Bagram. STOL flights are short run flights, AKA Puddle Jumpers, Milk Runs, etc. The flight time to Bagram was less than 10 minutes.

Bagram: The arrival and departure terminal in Bagram is run by the Air Force. It was dirty, crowded, and in a state of organized chaos. I was scheduled for a direct flight to Ali Al Salem in Kuwait on the 15th. I noticed on a plasma screen display that the call time for the flight was 0200. I saw at least 2 other flights to Kuwait were already canceled. Not a good sign as passengers were beginning to back log. I was bumped from the flight on the 15th with the next possible flight scheduled the next day on the 16th. At this point I should have left the terminal and sought billeting. I was crammed in a corner with all my baggage and I did not want to wrestle it out over all the soldiers, some of whom were sleeping, sitting in the terminal. I decided to wait until the crowd thinned out. Lucky I did - an hour or two later a flight to Kandahar was canceled and the aircraft was diverted to go to Kuwait. Myself and about 15 other people got to ride to Kuwait in a C-17 with only us and our gear shortly after midday on 15 March. A stroke of luck one rarely sees when one travels in the 'stan.

Ali Al Salem: It took us 4 hours to get to Kuwait. After a short bus ride from the airstrip we reported to tent 4 to get our CAC cards scanned and to the AMC LNO to get a copy of our orders stamped. It was too late to get out of the country so I went to billeting and got a bunk. Before I slept, though,  I found some food and I made contact with home and with SATO to change my flight to Dulles. To leave AAS I was to report to the bus service tent at 1500 on the 16th. After getting yet another stamp on our orders we went to the Customs tent to X-ray our bags and get wanded ourselves. Once completed we rode a bus to Kuwait International Airport. We arrived about 1830. The departure check-in terminal we needed to go to opened around 1930. The wait was uncomfortable. At 1930 I entered the departure check-in area for the airline. Once my baggage was checked I went to the gate, arriving there at about 2000 or so. The gate are was crowed and hot. There were not enough seats. You had the opportunity, while there, to mingle with people from all around the world. Security seemed tight in the airport. I recall going through scanners and having my bags x-rayed about 3 times. The shoe check was only done once - just prior to boarding the plane at around 2245.

United States Corps of Engineer Deployment Center: Out processing from the UDC was quick and easy. The experience was painless and efficient.

Random Thoughts:

No one wanted to see my passport until I arrived at Dulles. The immigration guy had to see either my official or tourist passport.

No one ever asked to see my Letter of Release from Afghanistan. I recommend you have one anyway (signed by an O-6).

Contractors must pay cash or use the Eagle Cash Card at the AAS DFAC. Breakfast costs $2.30 and other meals are $4.25 at the time of this writing. The DFAC has moved and is not located as shown on the AAS strip maps. It is 180 degrees out from the map. Just ask someone - they'll show you where it is.

Travel light.

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