Regarding personal communication down range.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that for the most part, personal communication is a valuable commodity in Afghanistan. The country is vastly rural, far moreso than Iraq is. Due to this, depending on the area a soldier is in, they may not get the same things another soldier will have at another FOB. For example, large bases, such as Firebase Phoenix, Jalalabad, Bagram, and Kandahar Airfields have pretty well-developed infrastructure. Places like these were hooked up with wifi and other means of communication. I wasn’t at any of those bases, and was relying heavily on the computer lab provided by the military on my FOB when writing this blog. For the most part, the military is good at keeping soldiers provided with a computer lab, but there are FOBs that don’t have them.
Personal phones are available for purchase at major FOBs or bazaars if soldiers are allowed to visit them. Roshan isn’t exactly the best phone company in the world, but it’s definitely great if you need to speak with family. SPAWARE also provides DSN (Data Source Name) phones that can be used to call family, provided you have an open account with them, but like every other option out there, this is not universal. Some bases are either too remote or too dangerous to support non-military communications. For the most part, there should be some way for a soldier to contact home, but don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them for some time.
As for mail? As far as I could tell, this was universal for any base that wasn’t a major place (Bagram, Jalalabad, Shank, Kandahar, Phoenix, etc.) could receive mail, but not send any out. I personally received mail probably once a month or two months, but that’s because the Air Force unit in charge of my task force’s mail route was lazy and rarely picked up mail. I encourage you to send care packages as often as possible, because that might actually make or break various hygiene issues, and the military is notorious for losing mail.
Well, back in the good old U S of A
Stuck ina sort of quarantine state for the next week or more. Hopefully I’ll be out of it soon. But I’m out of Afghanistan.
PS I’m in a four man room with my XO and he has a cute little butt. It’s distracting.
The majority of my unit is now getting ready to leave.
We’re currently in the biggest base in Afghanistan, prepping to leave. I remembered something vital as soon as the bulk of these guys started coming in: I hate my unit. Drama City, USA. Oh, how I didn’t miss you.
And so it comes nearly to the close…
I have about a month or so before I start RIP, the process that will make sure that the incoming team is prepared for us to leave. It’s been a very enlightening, but overall boring year. I hope you guys were entertained. Any questions, just put them in the question box.
Second row on the right is how Afghanis take a dump. It’s a bit disturbing irl
I don’t often have stupid shit happen to me
But when it does…..
So I no longer do my original mission out here. I work an X-Ray scanner that takes X-ray images of vehicles as they come in, in case I see something that’s not supposed to be coming in (IEDs, weapons, the enemy, etc). It’s a boring gig, but it’s the closest thing I have to going outside the wire, so I’ll take it.
A few weeks ago, a taxi allegedly was involved in a collision with coalition forces. It doesn’t matter anymore, because there’s an expiration date of a few days before reimbursement claims can be made with the forces out here. Why am I telling you this, Constant Reader? Keep going.
One of the units here rented out a few donkeys. For whatever reason, I have no clue, but I like to pretend that they were using it for shows that are very prevalent in Tijuana. It just so happened that this was the same day that taxi guy decided to try and make his claim. The following is how I found all of this out.
I’m at the gate, doing my thing, when all I hear out of nowhere is my name followed by “ARE YOU FUCKING OKAY?!” I come out of my area to see my first line leader running like crazy over to the Entry Control Point before slowing down after he sees I’m ok.
Me: Am I in trouble.
Him: You’re not hurt, are you?
Me: I’m fine, last I checked.
Him: Thank God, because all I got from someone was that there was an accident involving a taxi cab, some donkeys, and an American soldier at the gate. Since you’re the only American out here….
It turns out that the cab driver came the same time one of the people from the unit that rented the donkies did. Somehow it turned into what was described above. I really don’t know how.
On the plus side, I got to scan two donkeys!
This needs to be done.
My FOB just keeps getting more and more awesome.
Recently a midget got work here on the base. Coincidentally(?), one of the civilians shipped a human-sized hamster ball over here. Shortly after this happened, he found out about the midget. He now wants there to put the midget in the ball, take it to the flight line, and have two Kiowa Warrior helicopters play pong with the midget as the ball.
I really wished I was making this shit up. So, in ten days or so, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy will officially be off the books in UCMJ. One of my team mates is gay (Something everyone knows but doesn’t really talk about). This morning, he came into our office and did a little twirl on the doorstep before throwing his hands into the air and exclaiming “I’m gay, guys!” I don’t have a problem with it, but honestly, this whole display couldn’t have contained more camp if he skipped in and farted a shower of glitter.
I’ve been starting to feel pretty lonely lately. I mean, lately I’ve been hanging out with more people than I usually would. My relationships with a few people have moved from friendly work environment to actual friends. I feel like I’m a part of something, but that’s not what’s getting me. If you haven’t guessed from previous posts because you’re stupid, I’m single.
While people gripe about Jody and their cheating whore husbands/wives/girlfriends, boyfriends, I can’t help but envy the fact that they have them. At the end of the day, if it’s available to them, they can sit down and talk to their significant other and relieve some of the stress they’re experiencing. They know that the person they’re talking to probably cares about them more than the average friend. That if they’re the right person, they can have a future together. They can make a family if they don’t already have one. That if things are going well, that there’s someone waiting for them when they get home. That there’s something worth going home to.
The single soldier doesn’t have that. I want children. I want a significant other. We’re in a point in time where someone saying “thank you for your service” doesn’t mean what it did in World War II, Korea, or even Vietnam. Especially when phrases like the one mentioned above come with a single caveat: “But….”. As in “I appreciate that you defend our country, but what you chose to do as a soldier means diddly squat to me and I think all of you are insane baby killers that probably can’t function in the real world.” Okay, probably a bit on the extreme side, but you get my point, right?
I want to find that person who, at the end of the day, didn’t bond with me because we’ve got each other’s 6. Doesn’t associate with me because we share elements of the same chain of command. I want to be able to talk to someone and have them see me, not Sergeant So and So, or Private Snuffy, or Lieutenant Cantleadforshit.
So yeah, this may be sappy, you may call me a pussy or whatever. But I personally think the risk of having that special someone being a cheating skank while out here is better than having nothing at all. Because at the end of the day, when you’re tired and trying to find a reason to get up the next morning, you can think about your lady, your man, your kids, and that in a year, you’ll see them again.
What do I have?
I just stumbled across this article today. If you don’t like, you can kindly go fuck off.
A lover of literature, Jeff always brings a collection of William Wordsworth. He flips the pages to “Expostulation and Reply.” He sits on the marble stone commemorating his son and reads aloud. Lori sits on the ground nearby.
He gets to the last verse and chokes up:
“Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
Conversing as I may,
I sit upon this old grey stone,
And dream my time away.”