Challenge of a lifetime
Written by Nathan Gallahan   
Thursday, 28 January 2010 20:56

(Nathan Note | This is the first of 37 blogs. To read the rest of the blogs and watch the rest of the vlogs, click the links at the top of this page.)

KABUL | Days -11 - Ken and I are about to embark on one of the greatest challenge of our lives. We're going out on a 30-day mission throughout Afghanistan and I'm personally not sure how it's going to pan out. At first, the idea was great, go out there and talk with Afghans and the soldiers and find out how this counter insurgency is going. I wanted to get some questions answered, such as how the pending troop build up around the country will be affecting the everyday service members on the ground, and how Gen. McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy has changed the playing field since it went into effect into July.

Now that our plan has been approved, with surprising enthusiasm, the weight of this is on our shoulders.

The basic idea is for Ken and I to race around every regional command in Afghanistan in 30 days. At first, this may seem pretty easy. Afghanistan is just a little bit smaller than Texas, and I’ve driven across Texas in less than a day. It won’t be that simple here, especially during the winter. Between each RC we will be taking helicopters or maybe some fixed wing aircraft. We will face delays and many nights waiting for space available flights that may or may not pick us up. From the main forward operating bases we’ll be taking convoys out to the areas we want to cover. While this mode of transportation is less affected by weather, the risks of improvised explosive devices and ambushes are far greater.

We need to get to those areas because that’s where the stories we want to cover are. We want to bring you to those areas with us and share the experience. We want to show you what life is like out there, not just for service members, but for the Afghans we’re all here to free from the grip of war. From past experience, I can tell you the lives of people here are hard. Sleeping in small rooms packed to the ceiling with cots and bunk beds with platoons of soldiers who haven’t showered in a week. But they’re here for a reason; they’re working for a greater good. A greater good I feel isn’t covered enough in the mass media. I want to answer the question, why are we doing this? Why are service members and civilians out there being killed, wounded and suffering miserable lives? And I want to cover it from an “average” perspective, t alking about it in normal speak so everyone can see this war as those on the ground see it.

To tell this story, Ken will be uploading daily vlogs, and I will be providing the blogs and photos.  We’re going to try and stay off of each other’s toes as much as possible, because we both want to share as much Afghanistan as possible. While Ken’s goal will be to humanize the people, mine will be to humanize the conflict. But we’re not the only players in this project. The biggest player is you, the reader. This project will not work without your participation. For the next 30 days, we work for you. Please let us know of any questions you have and we’ll either answer them, or find the right people out here to answer them for you.

There’s another player here to, Senior Master Sgt. Jon Nicolussi. He’s the foundation of the team. He’s the one staying back and managing our travel, taking care of us and this Web site. You’ll see him many times responding, chatting and explaining what’s happening to us if we can’t get to Internet. He also has 24/7 communication with us and will be feeding us information from you and the Web site.

I have no delusions of grandeur. There’s no way the three of us can cover every complexity and contributing factor to this counter insurgency. But what we do know is that we can talk about them and try to shed a little bit of light on them.  I simply hope, over the next 30 days we’ll all be able to understand a little bit more about who Afghans are and why this war is so important to the international community.

Home Day T-4
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Nathan Gallahan said:

James, PJE & Juicy,
Thanks for stopping in and commenting! Ken and I are still here, if only once a week nowadays. If you have any questions, please register and post them on the forums. While neither of us have been back to Afghanistan since April 2011, we can certainly answer any questions about the project or explain more about anything we experienced.
December 22, 2010
Votes: +0

James said:

"I simply hope, over the next 30 days we’ll all be able to understand a little bit more about who Afghans are and why this war is so important to the international community." This is a very impressive and honorable thing to do. I am so glad that you are sharing it with us. I think most of us want to understand this whole thing better poker sites
December 20, 2010
Votes: +0

Juicy Couture said:

I enjoy reading the report, too. It′s easy to understand that a journey like this is the biggest event in ones life.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Nathan Gallahan said:

Thanks Charity,
Your kind words mean a lot! We're still hopeful for future projects such as this smilies/cheesy.gif
July 13, 2010
Votes: +0

charity randolph said:

mother of airman in afghan
i want to personally thank you for ur hard work on this site and through afghan bein able to read this and see whats goin on over there hellps me get through the times i m thinkin of kenneth and what he is doin over there and is it worth it of course i dont have a perfect answer for that but after readin these blogs it sure has helped thanku for your service
July 07, 2010
Votes: +0

Victoria said:

Thank You...
As a Sailor working directly with the Army on the "Counter-Insurgency" issues in Afghanistan as well as other issues, I want to say "thank you" for making these blogs and videos and using this media to try and make humanity "as a whole" understand what we are doing there.
April 15, 2010
Votes: +0

Charles Fick said:

USAF PA '69-'93
Great enterprise, fellows! Proud my USAF successors have earned the accolade I often used to inspire my proteges: intrepid reporter(s). Oh, and you added a new word to my lexicon: vlogger. Sounds faintly Transylvanian ... Be safe. Peace, out.
March 31, 2010
Votes: +0

nadia bashir said:

I m Nadia from Pakistan & i saw about this site in CNN. It overwhelming that ISAF & NATO troops r contributing a lot not just for the security issues in afghanistan, but also making the world aware about the postive aspect of Afghan culture, their hospitality, generosity gallantry. I rember when i was 8 years old in 1978 & my papa used to take us all to the Torkham border for picnic. I live in Peshawar in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, and my house is 1 hr 45 mints drive to Afghan border. I remember when i used to see pakistan on one side & Afghanistan on the other side of the border, V enjoyed eating tasty meat barbeque, fresh fruits, dry fruits chasing on mountains. I m a part of afghan culture, life style for my maternal grandmother is from Ghazni province in Afghanistan. I hope peace returns to all parts of the world & v all make lovely friends from all over world. The children in Afghanistan fly kites, enjoy all amenities in life, health education. i read a v sweet poem by Charles Mackay when i was in 9th grade Theres a good time coming boys, a good time coming but wait a little longer. I hope this longer will b no more longer. Good luck to u both young military men who contributed to this useful site. I wish u all v best in life.
February 12, 2010
Votes: +3

Jeff Alexander said:

Again - wonderful work!
Nathan and Ken,

This has generated quite the buzz back here at home! The wing leadership is excited to see your first post. Once again, all I hear about your performance out there has been positive! Stay safe, and I can't wait to talk to you when you return.

February 03, 2010
Votes: +0

Thanks_173rd_Airborne_Brigade said:

As a civilian, I'm really excited about your project. For those of us who try to follow the progress of our troops in Afghanistan, I can tell you that civilians fequently have difficulty in getting information. I appreciate the need for security and the desire to protect privacy, but when you know that young Americans and their international partners are living in difficult and dangerous conditions, the lack of information is frustrating.I hope you will shed some light on the increase of troop levels and the change in tatics, but most of all, I hope you will give us the opportunity to spend a day or night with our soldiers and marines. I hold the Sky Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade near to my heart, and if you can visit with them, I will be most grateful. I wish you a safe and exciting 30 days, and I can't wait for your first report.
February 03, 2010
Votes: +1
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