Yesterday after our mentoring sessions were over, we spent the afternoon readying our MRAPs for what would have been a long mission. Had everything went as planned, we would have been driving on the road at O-dark-thirty hours. Around 0800 hrs this morning, we were given the order to “stand down” (Army lingo to stop what you are doing). Our mission was canceled and another unit was taking over. In reality we were never given the execution order, but we prepared accordingly. Since the vehicles were mission ready, our ETT leader decided to go on a different mission so some electronic repairs could be made to a vital piece of equipment. We would all meet after lunch and depart for Camp Phoenix.
While this was going on, some members of my team were taking the ANA soldiers out to the shooting range. My teammates just finished providing M-16 rifle training to them and today they were going to practice their marksmanship. The class has generally been taught by Army soldiers or civilian contractors, but the AF TSgt in the picture has been instructing them. Once the ANA soldiers show their proficiency with the rifles, at a future date, they will trade in their Soviet AK-47 rifles in exchange for a NATO M-16 rifle.
As planned, we met after lunch and mounted our machine guns on the MRAP vehicles and loaded the chambers with ammunition. The morning was rather cold, but now the sun came out and was brightly shining and it helped to take the sting out of the cold weather. The gunners are the ones who are exposed to the cold wind and elements, so they have to wear additional layers of clothing and face masks to stay warm.
We cruised through the city with ease and my Captain and I took some pictures of the Kabul street life. The burned out building is the result of the last attack by insurgents on the capital city. Some local businesses are trying to restore operations by selling their wares using the ground level cubicles that didn’t suffer as much damage. According to a
local newspaper report, the insurgent activity resulted in 5 million dollars in losses and damages.
The traffic was surprisingly light in the city today. But the merchants were still packed on the streets selling their goods and trying to make a living. This is such a tough life and tough business. However, when I do the arithmetic, the odds of selling an item is actually pretty good, especially when you are providing goods for a city of 4 million city dwellers. It seems like everyone wants to migrate to Kabul and live. Much of the developments and houses were built illegally and the infrastructure suffers tremendously due to the large influx of people. Perhaps this helps to explain the rationale why people have to bribe government officials to be connected to electricity, water, and sewage services.
A few days ago I detailed about ANA computer programs. Today I got to experience one of the US Army programs at the Army Supply store (SSSC….still don’t know what the acronym stands for). Anyhow, I signed in and couldn’t remember my 6 or 7 digit alpha-numeric supply code. Surely the computer database would be able to retrieve me by name, unit, or location. Nope! Not only that, without the supply code, they couldn’t verify I was authorized to shop there. However in all fairness, they had a manual book about 4 inches thick with all the customer names in it. Only problem, it was sequenced by supply code. So after paging through ¾ of the book and reviewing every page I managed to find my authorization card and was able to purchase some administrative supplies.
The equipment repair took longer than planned, so several of my teammates decided to pamper ourselves with some of Camp Phoenix amenities. We visited the food court (not sure that is the proper name for it), but they have Subway, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, and Green Bean Coffee. I couldn’t resist buying a Caffe Latte. It wasn’t StarBucks, but it tasted
better than the coffee served at the chow hall.
The equipment was repaired and we fired up the vehicles preparing to return to camp. The only problem was one of the MRAPs would not start. We attached the slave cables (special jumper cable) hoping to jump start it, but to no avail. The mechanics came out and was unable to repair it. So we transferred everything over to the other vehicles including the crew members. By now it was getting dark and we would drive back through the city that is barely illuminated. We returned to camp and I missed chow, so I settled for soup and sandwiches which is always available. Another mission is complete and who knows what tomorrow will bring.