Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kandahar Oh baby!


Left Dubai about noon today. First time I had seen the desert from the air during daylight. Very stark and monochromatic drab brown, Khaki is the right color here. Landscape was flat and featureless. Then passed over the Arabian Sea out to Pakistani Airspace. Almost totally cloudless going out over the Arabian Sea and I counted 19 tankers / freighters in the shipping lanes. Several of them were obviously tankers because they were so large I could make out the piping on the deck. They are going slow so that by the time they arrive in port, gas prices will go up again.
The on into Pakistan. Again, very bleak and desert. Flat and featureless and very few signs of flowing or standing water. Not may vegetated areas but the few that I did see were apparently irrigated plots given the very regular square shape of the areas and they were just a slightly darker shade of brown.

The land got a little more rugged as we entered Afghanistan and it looked as if someone had taken a huge garden rakes and made deep ridges and furrows running from South West to North East. Then every now and then, there were weird curled mountain ridges that just came up out of nowhere. I could see the switchback roads that cut through the passes on the ridges. Not many roads and not many cars either.. None in fact. I took a few pics from the air but not much to see. Just brown.

Finally got to Kandahar. Spotted a herd of wild camels frolicking in the desert just before we landed. Then we slammed down quick and hard. We had to hurry off of the runway though because a couple of Blackhawk helicopters were coming in and a C-5A Galaxy (huge transport plane) was taking off. The C-5 A had to release decoy flares as it took off. Don’t know if it did that just as a regular precaution or if he detected a hostile threat. Hmm – folks this sure ain’t the Richmond airport.. There is so much stuff here you would not believe it. The civilian world gets to see a few military aircraft in an airshow every now and then but wha you see in an active airbase in a war zone is something different. I am learning to tell the difference between an F-16 and an F-18. And military jets are much louder than civilian ones.

I got the royal pickup treatment. My boss Rodney Beyer was there to pick me up at the airfield. So I got escorted through “KAF” (Kandahar Air Field) customs rather quickly. We drove through the dustiest place on earth to get to Camp Hicks, my home sweet home for the next year. I got my Kevlar Vest, my helmet, sleeping bag as well as sheets and a huge fluffy comforter. Who are we kidding? A comforter? It was 102 F today. And it has not even warmed up. Then to billeting to find my lovely new home. Yes, it is a plastic pre-fab container that you can hook up and place on a truck trailer or a container ship. I have about 10 feet of one half and my neighbor on my back wall has the other 10 feet. It is about 8 feet wide and it has a single bed and an armoire and a desk. It has a lockable door and a fire extinguisher. If I ever let the fire extinguisher loose, then it would foam the whole place. Last stop of the day was the mess hall for chow. Er – pardon me, not the mess hall, that is the Army of 1974. Today it is the D-Fac – short for Dining Facility. Food was basic but not bad. Got some reasonably fresh broccoli and some salad. I’m happy.

Then “home” to bed. As I tried to type this last night, the jet-lag wall hit me. So enough until tomorrow. I have an orientation – that will be fun.

Pics are few. They are very security conscious here.

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