Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Winter has set in.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Over the holidays the camp temperature hovered around 0 degrees and with a howling West wind it made for some interesting nights on the roof. The sun bleached mountains that once held the heat above the hundreds now lays grey and cold these long nights on guard mount. This however, has not entirely kept the guerrillas from launching a series of attacks all along the Eastern border with Pakistan and other places around the country. We had hoped that the cold weather would keep him huddled around the fire but this is not to be. Unfortunately, they seem to be taking a page out of the Iraq book and started using homicide bombers to wage their terror war to a new level.

Last week a bomber riding a motorcycle rammed a crowd in Spin Boldak and killed 22 people and injured hundreds at a public sponsored event. Almost spontaneously, many villages including Kabul, Herat, and MES {Mazar-E-Sharif} were hit by these same killers bent only on a body count and chaos. At this time they seem to be targeting ISAF [International Stability Force] and their own people.

Our rules of engagement provide us with the absolute power to defend ourselves and our gear however; the other international forces have adopted a “defensive” posture which leaves them vulnerable to attack. This in my view is an egregiously bad example of policy to which soldiers are left with “doubt” at that critical moment when lives are at stake of whether to fire or flee the area.

In the last week alone US embassy charge d'affaires Richard Norland said there was a "disturbing trend" of new enemy tactics, including suicide bombings -- one of which killed a Canadian diplomat this month, the murders of teachers and the use of improvised explosive devices. "When you have teachers being beheaded and schools being closed in part of the country, suicide bombers killing Afghan civilians and a Canadian diplomat, that's a disturbing trend," Norland told reporters.

You may asked yourself how in God’s name will we be able to stop or even curtail these people who have no longer have a fear of losing their lives. Well the only answer I have is to help them achieve their goal in the most proficient manner I can.

Even those of us who have to defend our bases know that being on the “defensive” makes for bad policy and bad tactics. In order to secure a static facility you still must patrol outside of the perimeter and clear the surrounding area within the minimum effective range of most weapon systems. This is the key to surviving in an area where the terrain, weather, time, and the ability to blend into the local population all are in favor of the enemy. With that in mind we have begun to aggressively recon and patrol our area of operations. With luck and hard work we will be able to keep them at arms length until we can bring our own bag of tricks to bear.

I wanted to say a little about my time on leave over the holidays. After traveling for three days and nights out of country then theater…..well it kinda went like this:
Convoy to Herat from [OPSEC]
Convoy to Herat Airfield from Camp Victory
Fly from Herat to KIA [Kabul international Airfield]
Convoy to Camp Phoenix
Convoy from Camp Phoenix to BAF [Bagram Airfield]
Fly from BAF to Qatar EL-AL-Udid
Fly to Kuwait International Airfield
Convoy from KIA to ALI-AL-SALIM Airbase [10 hour layover]
Convoy back to KIA
Fly to Frankford Germany [refuel] Over flying downtown Baghdad ….no I’m not kidding!
On to Atlanta Ga.
From ATL to Panama City then-----HOME!

I don’t sleep well sitting up so after 72 hours of this I’m a ZOMBIE. It’s about this time you start feeling like your slightly out of sync, you know –like when the movie soundtrack doesn’t quite match the dialog. You speak to others and you don’t recognize the sound of your voice kinda thing. So, to say standing in my front yard after being gone for so long was surreal was an understatement. But wait your not getting the whole picture, the wife and I have been building our house for ten months when I was deployed. Then, she finished it and moved in while I had been gone. So after all this time here I’m looking at this beautiful home I’ve never lived in.

I walk to the front door and turn the knob----it’s open---and I walk into a dream I had been having for so long. No one is home because I was not able to tell them when I would arrive due to security concerns and the availability of aircraft out of both theaters. [Both Iraq and Afghanistan]

I wander like a wraith from room to room. Seeing where my children have played and slept. The kitchen and the things that have made it though the move from one place to another. My favorite place, the back deck where you can lounge beneath the pines and listen to the whisper of the winds. Smelling my wife’s scent on her pillowcase and drinking it all in like a man who has crossed many a desert and found an oasis. And inside my head I’m screaming

I made it, I made it, I made it I’m really here.

To see your life move on without you is like coming back from the dead, then suddenly they arrive and I embrace my son and feel his breath against my chest and I know it’s real. I’m swept away in a tide of emotion for all the lost time comes rushing back and I’m among the living again.

To thank those of my friends and family who have supported me thus far would take up more space and time then I have here. Thanks, you know who you are. But, I must say I was fortunate to be able to meet Joyce Owen and her husband Richard before I left. [Both work for the Sun] I knew Richard for a long time as he seemed to show up “On scene” when I was working an especially bad call for the Fire Department. Joyce had wanted to see me before I returned overseas but respected my time with my family. So on the last day I called and they came over immediately. All I can say is what a lovely team. They both understood the hardships, the frustrations and the soulful longing that come from deployments to foreign soil. Richard was a submariner with the Navy and those endless tours they do were a match to my own. Thank you Joyce, for those notes of encouragement along the way. They meant a lot to know you understood what I was feeling.

To my wife Becky, my love, you wear your pain and suffering with the greatest of dignity. The way your able to tend to our children and bear the additional weight of my absence is nothing short of pure grace. But I see the worry and the fear for me in your eyes. Rest easy, soon it will be over and we all be together again.

Norman Schwarzkopf”The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

1 comment:

  1. spin boldak was committing atrocities