It was another cool morning and our 72-hour assault packs were packed. I was still feeling a little bit sore from yesterday’s mission. I swear the Captain hits the bumps fast to see if I will hit the ceiling or pop the gunner out of the turret. Anyhow, we went over to the Landing Zone (LZ) to wait for our inbound helicopter. Off in the distance, some of the mountain peaks displayed a light dusting of snow. Winter is quickly approaching and government officials are worried that it might interfere with the election run-off on November 7.
Today we were going to escort the ANA colonel along with his two body guards to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Logar Province. He wanted to inspect the troops and visit the Forward Logistics Element (FLE…pronounced flea). We watched as a helicopter circled around the mountains and then landed at the LZ. The helo blades create such a wind storm causing the temperature of the cold air to drop 10-15 degrees. We were rather surprised when the crewman informed us this wasn’t our helicopter and ours was canceled. Although the flight was canceled for a particular airframe, we were certain they would substitute another helicopter in its place.
Our helicopter eventually arrived and our ETT Team Leader, AF Captain, and I along with our ANA guests boarded the aircraft. Our plan was to make a quick assessment of the FLE and meet with key leaders at the FOB. The helicopter flew through parts of Wardak and then Logar Province before landing at FOB Shank. Due to the sporadic rain, it was difficult to take pictures of the villages we flew over. Similar to the other provinces I’ve visited; most of the houses are constructed out of mud-brick and protected by thick walls. Some of the villages seemed so isolated it’s hard to understand how they survive, especially with winter rapidly approaching.
Our party was met by one of our teammates and some of the FOB leadership. We departed by truck and traveled to the ANA side more commonly known as Mai-Wand. Three of my ETT teammates are housed in the same complex as the ANA soldiers they mentor. We toured the FLE facilities and then the ANA Colonel held an open ranks inspection of his troops. Afterwards we discussed some business and then went to lunch at the Jordanian chow hall. I was very impressed with the quality of the food and the cleanliness of the place.
We were only on the ground for a few hours and were scheduled to depart. It started to rain and I thought our flight would be delayed. But the clouds cleared up enough and we left FOB Shank with a direct flight to our camp. On the return trip I was able to take a picture of a more populated village. This village had dirt roads leading away from it unlike some of the isolated villages I observed earlier. After we landed I looked at the mountain peaks and all of the snow I seen early in the morning had melted and disappeared.