S.N.A.B.U. = Situation Normal All BAF-fed Up

Camels roaming around.

After 2 hours of driving and being bounced around on the Afghan highways like a ping-pong ball, we arrived at our destination.  Originally we were planning to drive on to

Big dog.

BAF and then off-load the Humvees.  But when we found out about the mountain of paperwork and coordination required to escort our ANA counterparts on the installation, we opted to off-load outside the base and drive them the remainder of the way.  Our convoy pulled off the side of the road and established a security cordon while the ANA

Joint effort to off-load the Humvees.

and my teammates removed the chains and straps anchoring the vehicle to the trailer.  Another teammate drove the Humvees off the ramp and the ANA departed back to camp.

We split into teams and were given different tasks to maximize our productivity and use of time at BAF.  We were hoping (and praying) to get everything accomplished in one day, but packed an overnight pack just in case.  The last thing we wanted to do was to spend a night at BAF.  I went with the Brigade property book holder.  He was trying to track down some missing equipment that was previously turned in and the accountability was not removed from the property book.  On 3 occasions, the contractor for some strange reason would not reveal his location and instead said to call him when he arrived and only then would he provide his building number.

I ordered my last Whopper at BAF.

It was lunch time and a group of my teammates headed to the BAF food court.  Before long these fast food outlets will disappear under General McChrystal’s policy.  I decided to take my chance with Burger King.  I tried not to get my hopes up too high and wondered if they would have burgers today.   Surprise! They had burgers but were out

The sticker speaks for itself. SNABU

of chicken.  The waiting line was rather long, but it was worth the wait.  That Whopper tasted so good and the French fries were out of this world!  I was tempted to order two but made a conscientious effort to watch my figure … lol.  I gave up the chocolate chip cookie diet as it wasn’t working out too well.

While at the food court, a sign caught my attention and I did a double-take.  It was a sticker on an electrical panel with the acronym SNABU or Situation Normal All BAF-fed up.  This was so original and so fitting!  Too bad I couldn’t find the source; otherwise, I might have bought several dozen and posted them throughout the base … lol.  Another sign at BAF piqued my

Still trying to figure out this sign.

interest too.  It displayed Combat Parking Only.  Even my Army teammates were scratching their heads trying to decipher the meaning.

My next task was to get a new ID card or Common Access Card (CAC).  The magnetic strip on the back has slowly chipped off and will not operate in a CAC card reader.  As such, I’m unable to access certain military web sites and needed a new one.  I tried to anticipate what could go wrong and prepared myself accordingly.  I located their office and followed the signs that said Passport and ID cards.  At the customer service door, there were two signs that stood out.  The first one is Passports are no longer being processed here.  Whew!  Thank goodness I didn’t require a passport.  The second sign caused me distress.  Two forms of picture ID were required and referenced AFI 3026.  Being Air Force, I knew that there was no such Air Force Instruction (AFI) because they are sequenced in series and it was missing the series reference.  But then panic set in, I wasn’t sure I had 2 forms of picture ID on my person.

What was the logic behind having 2 picture forms of ID to get my military picture ID renewed?  Could it be the picture ID on my valid CAC card was that of an impostor?  Did I really drive 2 hours to be rejected because I couldn’t provide another picture ID to prove that the person on the government CAC card was really me?   Then it donned on me, prior to my deployment I went home to Pennsylvania and opted to get a photograph driver’s license.  For 26 years my license has been valid without a photograph.  Now the only question that remained, did I remember to put the license in my wallet?  I slowly opened my wallet and pulled out my credit cards and other plastic cards filling my wallet.  It wasn’t there.  A large lump started forming in my throat.  Then I started frantically searching all the hidden compartments in my wallet.  As I searched the plastic holders I started to become agitated.  This wasn’t an Army requirement; this was a inane Air Force requirement.  If I couldn’t produce another picture ID, was there an alternative?  Perhaps a letter signed by a colonel on letterhead with the proper color ink and precise thickness of paper would be sufficient validation.  But what if I couldn’t prove who I really was.  I had to prove my existence in a Psychology class, but this was a different set of circumstances.  While these thoughts raced through my head, I suddenly recognized the Pennsylvania colors outlining the license.  Hooray!  This license picture proves the photo on the government CAC is really me!  The pictures looked very similar and unless these administrative clerks are forensic experts, they shouldn’t dispute the likeness or authenticity of the pictures.

The office had three technicians in it.  Two of them were Air Force and the other was Army.  The Army female would process my new ID.  Meanwhile I pointed out the error on the sign posted on the door.  The female A1C was very receptive and looked up the proper reference and I was correct.  The proper reference is AFI 36-3026.  I waited until the Army technician processed my card before pointing out the error.  I didn’t want to jeopardize my chances of not being issued a new CAC card.

While this transpired, my teammates searched through paperwork and compared serial numbers for a lost antenna belonging to a GPS tracking system.  It was on the vehicle and functional when we initially turned it in last year, but the accountability still remained on the property book.  So now we had to find the paperwork or the antenna.  After combing through pages and pages of paperwork for 900 vehicles, the document could not be located.  Half a dozen conexes were searched to no avail.  The only resort left was to search 9 acres of land containing Humvees, MRAPs, and other vehicles to find the original vehicle that was turned in.  After several hours of looking at every Humvee in this make-shift parking lot, the vehicle was found.  But to great dismay the antenna was mysteriously removed and now an Army Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss (FLIPL) will have to be initiated.

Dust storm on BAF.

Although it was a bitter disappointment, if we hurried, we could still leave BAF without staying the night.  By now the wind and the dust storms really picked up.  We were

Dust blowing across road.

hoping this was just isolated to the BAF installation, but would soon find out how bad the dust can blow in Afghanistan.  We departed BAF and the personnel in my MRAP left out

Getting hard to see the road.

a cheer.  It was back to the potholed road and now we had to deal with limited visibility due to the swirling dust.  For several miles we crept along avoiding on-coming traffic.  But there were several moments that made our butt cheeks pucker because the dust completely blocked our view.  It was like a white-out, but instead of snow, it was small particles of dust and dirt.

We finally made it through the dust clouds and our next destination was Camp Phoenix.  We picked up two female Airmen who hitched a ride with our patrol.  The sun was quickly setting and the plan was to drop them off and then return to our camp.  At the main gate, the guards were asking everyone for ID cards.  This was a brand new unannounced policy.  Meanwhile the local traffic is backing up outside the gate including our MRAPs.  This wasn’t a good feeling because this gate has been attacked by suicide vehicle IED bombers on several occasions.  It’s also not very good COIN because the traffic is blocked and the local citizens resent being blocked unnecessarily by military vehicles.  The guard’s solution was to drop off the interpreter, fill out some paperwork, track down a contractor to verify my interpreter’s identity and then come back to the gate and initiate a temporary pass.  I only wanted to be on the base for 5 minutes and then leave.  The verification process could take hours depending on the availability of the contractor.  I suggested the guards back me up in reverse and I would wait for my team outside on the highway.  But this wasn’t feasible because other military vehicles were behind me and I couldn’t go in reverse.  My interpreter provided the best solution.  He departed the vehicle and flagged down a taxi to go home.

We finally returned to camp around 7:30 pm and called it a day and a night.

Count, Recount, and Recount

My private internet connectivity is working again.  I had no access for 24 hours.  Even when I am connected, the bandwidth is about the speed of drying paint, especially when it comes to uploading photographs.  As a backup, I visit the MWR building when I have no connectivity.  But last night it was slow too.  It took me 40 minutes to log into my email.  We are allowed 30 minutes, but if nobody is waiting, then we can stay on the computers longer.

Conducting inventories on MRAP's BII.

The past few days my team has been inventorying our property book items.  These are equipment items, radios, weapons, vehicles, etc. that are accountable and listed on what the Army terms a Property Book.  Our property book happens to be 12 pages long.  Our ETT leader initially signed for the items when the last Air Force team departed and

AF Major and MSgt tying down tarp.

prior to that, they signed from an Army team.  Well guess what?  All along we have maintained pretty strict accountability and could account for everything on the property book.  Good so far.  Now an ugly term enters the picture.  The Army acronym is (BII) or Basic Initial Issue or something like that.  Nobody told us about BII in reference to the

Army SFC looks over BII.

property book until we started transferring our items to our Army teammates.  Then all of sudden Technical Manuals (TMs) came into play and we were scrambling to find these additional items.  These included all the screwdrivers, jacks, chains, hoses, mounts, etc. that come with a vehicle.  It also included power supplies, cords, etc that accompany radios.

Ok, now after finding most everything, we had to draft up a shortage annex for the items we couldn’t find.  We opened sealed boxes and discovered the complete BII was not there.  Previously we signed for a brand new MRAP only to find out the BII was shorted.  So two of my teammates drafted up more shortage annexes.  Then the real fun started.  We had to lay everything out so our Army teammates could conduct an inventory.  After the inventory, the items were returned to storage areas.  But then a special team was flown here from another FOB and we do it all over again.  This is starting to get old.  But it didn’t end there, this team was inventorying for the property book signer and we had to do it all over again.  This is truly unique and must be categorized and filed under “Armyism”.

AF Major sporting new look.

Around the Camp:  The weather lately has been sunny and the temperatures have surged back into the 50’s.  Camp personnel are back to wearing shorts while jogging and visiting the gym.  I still have Florida blood flowing through me and haven’t braved the warmer temperatures with my shorts yet.  I am waiting for a sunny day so I can get some sun on my legs first so I don’t blind my campmates with my white legs.  Before long we should be able to play volleyball again.

The Air Force Major in the picture is a teammate from Fort Riley, but was tasked with a different mission when he arrived in country.  But since moving here, we get to see him on a daily basis and still consider him one of the original

New Zealand contractors play guitar outside.

teammates.  Not only does he sport his PT shorts, but he dons his protective gear with it.  Truly a Kodak moment.

My neighbors next door were also taking advantage of the warmer weather and strumming on their guitars.  They are a long way from home.  These contractors who are retired military originated from New Zealand.  Previously they participated in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and now are training the ANA soldiers.

Runt Runt is a boy.

I had another surprise today.  If you recall we recently discovered Bonnie was a boy.  Well guess what.  Runt Runt is also a boy!  The entire litter, Fat Boy, Bonnie, and Runt Runt are all boys.  The gate guard changed Bonnie’s name to Broke Leg, but I didn’t think that was too appropriate especially since he is doing rather well.  I think the leg was dislocated and has popped back into place.  When you see these puppies play and wrestle, you would never know he had a bum leg.

Today was “suit day” too.  We have an off post tailor who visits the camp and makes custom made suits for $60-$70.  Where else are you going to get a suit made for that price?  The quality is very good and he also makes tuxedos,

Perfect fit.

blazers, jackets, ties, and just about anything made of material.  One of my teammates had over a dozen suits and jackets made.  He is planning on retiring after this deployment and is making preparations for the transition.  I couldn’t resist these low prices and plan on doing the same thing.  So I ordered two suits too.  Just hope Mrs. T. will approve of the colors …. lol!

More Armyisms

Local market store near Camp Phoenix.

While at the Post office, several of my teammates were trying to turn in some serviceable communication equipment.  It wasn’t long before they got to experience “Armyisms.”  The first office they went to (Office A) had them sign a piece of paper detailing the equipment’s specific information.  This form was taken to Office B which is like a job control.  Office B puts the information in their computer and it spits out a different form.  This form is then returned to Office A giving them permission to look at the item.  Office B inspects the item and now it’s ready to be turned into Supply.  At Supply they generate another form which is then walked back over to the Property Book Office to have it removed off the accountability list.  In comparison to the Air Force, we have a central issue and turn-in point where all of these functions are processed and everything processed leaves an audit trail in the computer system.

Muddy roads after the rain.

Meanwhile our ETT leader was trying to get some old uniforms off his property book account.  These uniforms were previously issued to former interpreters.  Our ETT leader is an Air Force Major and has signed for over $15 million dollars worth of items.  But when he tried to get these items removed from the account, he had to find a Lieutenant Colonel who could sign off on the letter stating $100 worth of items were destroyed.  Also, we couldn’t turn in the serviceable uniforms at Camp Phoenix; these have to be turned in to Bagram Air Field (BAF).  Had they been unserviceable, they would have gladly taken them off our hands.  In case you are wondering, if we used our knives and cut holes in them to make them unserviceable, they would have taken them.  But then this would be destruction of government property.  So we will have to travel 3 hours on the road with an armed convoy to turn these items in.  I don’t want to think about the paperwork that the BAFfites might require for processing these uniforms. The last time it took us 4 separate trips to get uniforms.  On the third trip we were turned away because we lacked letterhead on our paperwork and wasn’t aware of the new policy requiring letterhead stationery (more about that here).  In addition, the BAFfites are up in arms about losing their Pizza Hut, Popeyes, and Burger King stands as a result of General McChrystal’s new policy.  Sadly they have been voicing their objection in the local Stars and Stripes newspaper to no avail.  But they do get to keep their GreenBean Coffee shop, which serves up lattes, espressos, and mochas.  Hmmm … oops the uniforms suddenly got a tear in them … lol.

Afghan boys selling popcorn.

The mechanical wizards at Camp Phoenix were able to repair the broken driveshaft on the HMMVW and we lined up our convoy for the trip home.  The roads were still muddy, but the rain had stopped.  We drove past two local Afghan boys selling popcorn along the side of the road.  Not sure if OSHA would approve of their set up with the battery and the propane tank positioning.  But they seemed to be having fun and waved as we drove past.

“Armyisms” and Ban on Ammonium Nitrate

Army SFC in gunner's turret.

For the past 8 ½ months, I have written about my experiences, observations and opinions of being Air Force while being assigned with the Army.  Admittedly, I have chided them on some of their processes and in turn, they have apprised me on some unique Air Force peculiarities.  Of course, the outer planetary SNAFUs

Army SFC puts on gunner's harness.

experienced at Bagram Air Field still top my list, but today I encountered another one at Camp Phoenix.  As a result, I have coined my own term for these inimitable processes that make you scratch your head and stare in bewilderment.  From now until departure, I will refer to these as “Armyisms”.  Now don’t get me wrong, I value my Army brothers and would take a bullet for them, but some of their procedures have me perplexed.

Today’s mission was to travel to Camp Phoenix and turn in some up-armored HMMVWs.  We have too many vehicles and not enough people to sustain such a large fleet.  This was also a good opportunity to give our new teammates some driving time behind the wheel.

View of Kabul outskirts.

As such, I have been resigned to sit in the back of a MRAP as a dismount.  It was also an opportunity for me to take some pictures of the daily activities.  Even though we hit a concrete barrier before departing the base, I did not take a picture of it.  I think the new driver felt embarrassed enough and didn’t need to memorialize the event.

We cruised through the city with no problem.  The market area was back to normal and if you weren’t aware of the latest attack on Kabul, you would have never known the difference other than some additional security personnel strategically positioned throughout the city.  But I did notice more women returned to their habit of not wearing their burqa.  Based on my reader’s

Large mosque in Kabul.

comments, I wonder if there was a correlation on the day of attack.  I made the observation of more women were wearing burqas leading up to this particular day.  Perhaps it was pure coincidence or the weather is warming up again and this restrictive garment is rather warm to wear.

After arriving at Camp Phoenix, we took care of some administrative business and I tagged along with our ETT leader to their supply store.  He wanted to pick up some office supplies.  For this purpose, he is treated like the commander for the supply account and he authorizes members of the team to shop there.  But today he was doing the shopping.  He presented the clerk a letter showing he controlled the account

14th century ruins in Duralaman.

and funds expenditure for this particular account.  The clerk did not have a signature card on file for him.  Despite my leader’s attempt to understand, the Army clerk requested a signature card from him.  Now here is the kicker.  The signature card is normally signed by him as the commander authorizing other teammates to shop there.  But this time, the

Darulaman (Kings Palace) destroyed during the civil war after the Soviets departed.

clerk wanted a signature card authorizing him to shop there and signed by him as the authority.  So in a nutshell, he is signing a card authorizing his self to shop there.  Can you say Armyism?  I wonder if he has the authority to deny himself from shopping there? LOL

Afghanistan bans Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer

President Karzai issued a decree banning the use, production, storage, purchase or sale of Ammonium Nitrate.  This chemical compound has been used in 95% of the homemade bombs responsible for killing coalition forces and innocent civilians.  The farmers use it as a fertilizer on their fields and crops.  Now they have 1 month to turn in all of their stock of Ammonium Nitrate or face court action.  They are being directed to use Urea Nitrate instead.  The only problem with this fertilizer, it’s more expensive than Ammonium Nitrate.  Earlier this month, NATO and Afghan forces confiscated 10 tons of Ammonium Nitrate in the Kandahar Province.  Last November, they took possession of 250 tons of the suspect fertilizer in Kandahar.  The hope is this will decrease the amount of raw material readily available to construct deadly IEDs.

While a dismount (window licker) in the MRAP, I took a few pictures of what I viewed through the back and side windows of an MRAP.  Some of the pictures are rather clear, despite taking them through several inches of ballistic glass.

Computer Died

Last night after downloading my photographs and the writing my daily entry, my laptop computer started experiencing problems.  The screen started changing colors and then I started getting streaks across it.  Using my limited computer knowledge, I tried to fix the problem and only made it worse.  Now I am unable to neither start my system nor repair it using the available repair software.  So I am using a temporary work around until a permanent solution can be found.  I was hoping the laptop would last for 4 more months and if I kept applying duct tape to it, it would hold together and function properly.

Yesterday my team went on a logistics mission with our ANA counterparts.  We picked up 4 seven ton loads for our ANA soldiers deployed to the field.  They are sleeping in tents or b-huts and the lumber is their only means of heat.  While there we also picked up our Air Force fire retardant uniforms.  We have been trying to get these since arriving in country (8 months) and have grown accustomed to wearing the Army uniforms.  But the Air Force would prefer us to keep our identity and wear the Air Force uniform.  After the mission, I tried them on and the pants are too large, gloves too small, and shirts too tight.  So now I will have to return them for different sizes.  Normally I would wear large pants and X-LG shirts, but due to the size variation, I will have to request a medium long pants and XX-LG shirts.  I haven’t worn anything size medium since high school.  But hey maybe my daily exercise regimen (thinking about going to the gym) and chocolate chip cookie diet is working….lol.

We encountered a lot of traffic on the return trip back through the capital city.  So instead of waiting out gridlock traffic, we ventured down some side streets and got to see another part of Kabul.  I took some pictures through the market area (which are stuck in my laptop and inaccessible).  After departing the market area, we had to do a U-turn on a major road.  The traffic was patient while we turned our hulking MRAPs around.  The trailer was attached to my MRAP, so I had a little bit more difficulty, but I executed a perfect 3 point U-turn and we were on our merry way.

Today I went over to ANA land to meet my counterparts.  Since the merger of the US Kandak and Brigade, I have picked up additional mentoring functions.  So in addition to the Religious Officer, Sergeant Major, I am also involved with the Property Book Officer.  He is responsible for ensuring all of the vehicles, weapons, and equipment authorizations and accountability are maintained for all 6 Kandaks (companies).  This was our 2nd meeting and we drank a customary cup of tea and then discussed business.

I also visited the religious officer and the ANA Mullah was present.  We always have lively and interesting conversations.  Later this week, I am planning on attending one of the literacy programs being taught to the ANA soldiers.  Four out of five soldiers here are illiterate and this complicates the mentoring process.  It’s extremely challenging to teach a soldier to be a soldier if they can’t comprehend what you are teaching, especially if they are illiterate.  Yet this is the force that will eventually assume security for their own country.

I also had an opportunity to see the ANA Sergeant Major.  He was extremely thankful for the special project we completed for the guard tower and increasing their quality of living.  I was on my vacation when the construction work was being done and haven’t seen it since it was completed.  Hopefully in the next week or so, I will get an opportunity to visit the site and take some pictures.

I was rather shocked to read the Afghan headlines about Karzai’s cabinet ministers.  The lower Parliament disapproved 17 of the 24 nominations Karzai submitted for approval.  On one hand this is a positive sign that democracy is taking place and the Parliament wants qualified and honest people in their administration.  However, my sources tell me that the main reason the ministers were disapproved is because they didn’t have the money or didn’t pay money for their votes.  But I really don’t know what the truth is.  I do know that corruption is still persisting in this country.  I read about individuals competing for position of Police Chief in one of the provinces.  They spent $15,000 on their campaign and it is assumed or public knowledge they will get this money back through corruption, bribes, etc.

On a positive note, I am being proactive with the CERP (Commander’s Emergency Response Program).  I am researching two villages that might be in need of some humanitarian assistance and construction projects.  As I mentioned before, this program allows us to deal directly with the villagers and avoids going through the government or a middle man alleviating payoffs, bribes, etc.  Based on my preliminary research, these villages have schools, but they sit on the floor because they have no desks.  I would love to purchase some school desks and chalkboards and then distribute the school supplies being sent by my readers.

Returning to camp

Leaving BAF on helo.

It was another sleepless and cold night in the tent.  My earplugs were unable to drown out the flight line noise nor could they muffle the reverberations of the guy snoring next to me.  Despite being groggy I was still motivated enough to shave and eat some breakfast at the DFAC.  My only worry was the cumulus clouds forming in the sky.  It was a bit foggy and I was hoping they wouldn’t cancel my flight as a result.  I was so energized after having a fabulous R&R time in Germany with my wife, but I felt this new found energy level quickly dissipating after having to spend Christmas in Kuwait due to lost luggage and then frustrated at dealing with the incompetence and BAF-nesia

Villages near BAF.

endemic at Bagram.  Even competent people who are stationed at Bagram are reluctant to tell you they are stationed there because they experience the same thing and it’s like a badge of shame to admit you are BAF-fite.  The officers confront you because you didn’t salute them (Note:  most installations have a do not salute policy) or the reflective belt police are on the prowl looking for violators.  Other BAF-fites complain because one out of 10 television channels isn’t working or they need a larger variety of

Village seen from the air.

fast-food restaurants to pacify their tastes.  I even read an article about how a Senior NCO requested chocolate from state side donors because they didn’t have enough chocolate stocked at the PX.

I quickly packed up my gear and made my way to the Rotary Wing Passenger Terminal.  I was still trying to find this elusive Army SSG who held my fate in his hands on whether I was departing or not.  Inside the waiting area, they had 2 clocks posted on the wall.  One was in local time and the other was in Zulu time.  I had to chuckle because the Zulu time was incorrect and off by 3 hours.

Mountainous roads nearing my camp.

My helicopter ride showed up an hour early and I was more than ready to leave BAF.  While we were flying I tried to take pictures of the villages and the housing encampments below.  But due to the fog and limited visibility, the pictures didn’t come out that well.

We landed at my camp and my AF ETT leader was waiting on me.  Although I was dog tired, it was great to be back at camp.

BAF-nesia

It was a very smooth flight from Kuwait to Afghanistan.  Boeing can be proud of their achievement and the Air Force made a great investment with purchasing the C-17.  Due to the extra leg room, this was actually more comfortable than flying coach on a commercial airliner.  Of course we didn’t have the movies, music, and weren’t served hot meals, but it was still comfy.

We landed at Bagram Air Field and hiked across the flight line towing our personnel gear.  The air terminal checked us in and we were directed to the R&R tents for the night.  I asked the female contractor if there was any particular tent we should stay in.  She said, “Just pick one they are all the same”.  I knew this wasn’t true because they have tents designated for VIPs and are separated by gender.  It was now 3:30 am and due to the difference in time zones, my body wasn’t sure whether to sleep or stay awake.  I opted to sleep and set up my cot accordingly.  Just as I closed my eyes and lay down to sleep, the tent filled up with new arrivals.  They turned on the bright lights and made a lot of noise with all of their gear.  I was already struggling to tune out the fighter jets and cargo planes constantly taking off.  Since I couldn’t sleep, I went next door to the MWR center and waited until 5:30 am to have some breakfast.

After some good chow and hot coffee, I returned to my tent.  By my calculations, I had been awake over 24 hours and my body was begging me to get some sleep.  So I put in my combat ear plugs and pulled my blanket over my head and zonked off for about 7 hours of much needed rest.

Feeling re-energized, I visited the MWR center, watched some football and caught up with some email on the space available computer terminals. My next stop was the air passenger terminal.  I wanted to ensure my departure time for my helo ride tomorrow.  The female clerk informed me they only handle fixed wing and not rotary wing.  I asked where the rotary wing building was located and she said to walk down to the PX and it was directly across from there.  I walked down to the PX and across from it were a wall and a fenced in area.  I was certain this was not the location.  This is when I started inquiring on the street for directions.

This is when BAF-nesia started to set in.  BAF-nesia is my new term for the BAF-fites at Bagram.  You won’t find this disease or disorder in any medical journal.  It’s a new BAF-ism I have coined.  BAF-nesia is only found at Bagram.  It is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain and is better known by the expressions of “duhhhh or dumb a@@ syndrome.  Personnel stationed at BAF are so compartmentalized, that if you ask them a question outside their immediate work area, their usual response is “duhh…I don’t know.”  So my first question I would ask is “Are you stationed here and then follow up with inquiring the location of the rotary wing terminal.  The first person I asked responded, yes and then asked me what a rotary wing was and still didn’t know the location.  The next airman I asked said he has only been there for 4 months and tried to direct me back to the air passenger terminal.  The third person I asked wasn’t sure they even had helicopters at BAF.  The next person was the most helpful and said it was a mile down the road, but not exactly sure of the location.  By now the sun was setting and it was getting dark.  I was determined to find this evasive rotary wing passenger terminal.  I finally found another individual who wasn’t stationed at BAF and was able to provide me precise instructions where to go.

I approached the counter that had a big sign above it labeled Rotary Wing Passenger Terminal.  I inquired about my flight.  The Army soldier responded they don’t handle those aircraft and there was only one individual who could help me and he wasn’t there.  In addition, they didn’t have a phone number to contact this person either.  I kept asking more questions and I was referred to a back office and they basically repeated the same information.  However, an Army SGT queried the computer and found my name.  He provided me the departure time and the name of the aircraft.  I was feeling much better about then.  Just as I left their office I realized the departure time was in Zulu time and I couldn’t remember the conversion.  So I went back to the customer service counter and inquired about Zulu time.  I was given looks like I just inquired about Einstein’s theory or something complex.  Nobody was certain what the formula was and one person said just to add about 2 hours to the Zulu time for conversion to local time.  I knew this to be incorrect, but I couldn’t remember if it was 4 or 5 hours.    Keep in mind; this is the customer service section at the passenger terminal.  Can you say BAF-nesia!!

I was hungry now and returned to the PX.  I had my heart set on a hot pepperoni pizza with extra cheese.  As I approached the counter, there was one customer in front of me and then I noticed a small sign “Out of cheese”.  So much for that idea, what is a pizza without cheese?  So now my palate switched tastes and was focused on chomping on a Big Whopper at Burger King.  There were no customers standing in line and I was afraid they were closed.  But as I approached the window, I read the paper taped in the window “Out of sandwiches, only French fries and onion rings.”  This just wasn’t my day.

I walked back to my tent and visited the DFAC for my dinner meal.  Later on I researched Zulu time and noted you have to add 4 ½ hours to Zulu time for the conversion.  My tent was completely filled with personnel and it was going to be a long night.

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