Wednesday, September 10, 2008


10 Sept

The phone rang June 15, and the man asked me if I was interested in a position in Iraq. I interviewed by telephone, and then I was offered a position. I was directed to report for training in Huntsville, and after a short orientation, I was informed that my assignment was changed to Afghanistan.
Last month, I was directed to spend a week in Fort Benning Georgia, for orientation, and equipment issue. I picked up a gas mask, body armor, a helmet, and a sleeping bag. Then my firm sent me to an outdoor outfitter, where I was issued winter pants, and combat boots. Now that all of my gear is with me, I can leave for Afghanistan.
I will be flying to Baltimore, and then on to Manaus, Kyrgyzstan. (Every time I read that country’s name, I think they need to buy a vowel). Our team will remain in Manaus for a few days, until we can catch a ride to Bagram, Afghanistan. I first saw Bagram, way back in 2004, and it was primitive. The Army has spent a lot of money on the place, and now the housing is modernized, and they have a modern recreation center, and the dining halls are first-rate. Bagram is a major hub for Afghanistan, and many of the fixed-wing and helicopter flights change/originate/terminate at Bagram. Bagram is the “Atlanta” of Afghanistan.
I will be working on an unclassified video security project. I have worked in broadcast and cable TV, as well as closed-circuit TV. I am excited about installing security cameras on military bases in Afghanistan. If you want to see the cameras we will be using, just check out any Wal-Mart.
There are other countries with higher elevations, but Afghanistan is called the “roof of the world”. I spent three months on Sharana base, at 7400 feet above sea level. One of my lungs developed a blockage, and I was definitely oxygen-challenged. The doc checked me into the M*A*S*H, and after a chest x-ray, the doc prescibed an inhaler.
Afghanistan is an unusual country, to be sure. I have worked on three other contracts in Afghanistan, and the country is definetly an “acquired taste”. The principal languages are Dari and Pashto, but I have no fluency in either of these languages. I speak electronics, and that is enough!

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