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
Comments (37)add comment
 1 2 3 4 > 
Really?, Low-rated comment [Show]

Journo said:

...
I'm a Journalism student in New York, and I have to say this project really hits home. My fiance was deployed to Afghanistan about a month ago and this is our first deployment apart. The last time we talked, he passed down advice from superiors: stay away from the news. It will only drive you crazy. As a journalist I found this statement absolutely ridiculous. There are truth and stories out there, and someone needs to find them. We can only pretend things aren't going on around us for so long. Sometimes a handshake in an airport or praises of thanks aren't what our servicemen need. Sometimes showing the world they are more than numbers and the label of "troops". They have faces, names and lives of their own. Finally, people can hear their story.
 
February 03, 2010
Votes: +1
Thoughts on your Conquest, Low-rated comment [Show]

Col Reed said:

USAFE LNO to USAREUR
I recently completed a one-year tour as the 755 AEG commander at Bagram AB and had the opportunity to travel to visit our Airmen at over 40 FOBs. I know and saw first hand what a great job all our service members are doing in Afghanistan. I greatly appreciate your endeavor to show the public and wish you the best of luck. If possible, try to visit one or two of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT); they are doing phenominal work supporting the local nationals in their assigned area.
 
February 02, 2010
Votes: +2

MSgt Keith Houin said:

HQ USAFE Public Affairs Operations
Good luck Nathan. This looks like something you can really have fun with. We will be sharing this with all our leadership. Keep us posted, but most of all Be Careful and take care of yourself.

 
February 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Janie said:

Thank You....
I look forward to hearing about my Soldiers from Fort Lewis in your travels.
Take care.
 
February 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Clydene Blocker said:

...
Gave a gal at work, Connie, your website. Her son is in the army at Nolen. She's going to give the site to all the mothers of sons that she knows that are in Afghanistan too. Hope this gets big as all get out. Good going, you two.
 
February 02, 2010
Votes: +2

J.R. Melville said:

Military Retiree
Remember, stay out of military convoys, where your body armor, and don't forget to duck!
 
February 02, 2010
Votes: -2

Julia said:

...
I am really looking forward to following your journey. My son is in United States Marine Corp. He is currently in Helmand Province. Please stay safe and God Bless!
 
February 02, 2010
Votes: +1

Liz Chenoweth said:

...
What a wonderful opportunity, and a huge task. Thanks for taking this on, guys. Everyone will certainly benefit from what you have to share.
 
February 01, 2010
Votes: +2

Loren said:

...
Good luck on your endeavor and stay safe! Nate-see you when you get to Ellsworth. I look forward to following you guys.
 
February 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Nathan Gallahan said:

Thanks!
Thanks for the compliments Wolf! Hopefully there will be a lot more from where these came from!
~Nate
 
January 31, 2010
Votes: +0

Wolf47ad said:

Encouragement
Great mission for you guys. Nathan, the photos are awesome. Ken, your video style is unmistakeable. I'll see you when you get back and we can go for a run! Be safe.

TJH
 
January 31, 2010
Votes: +0

Jess said:

...
Stay safe guys! I'll be doing my best on this end to encourage people to follow the journey...
 
January 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Nathan Gallahan said:

Not A Problem!
Not a problem Shauna! It's our pleasure, should be a pretty exciting time and I'm really looking forward to holding this "30 Day Online Coversation" with everyone. Take care and I hope to see you back here soon!
 
January 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Shauna said:

...
I'm really looking forward to following you on your journey. Thank you!
 
January 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Ken Raimondi said:

Thanks
Thanks all for the early support! This really means a lot to us. Nathan and Monica- Thanks for helping to get some of the bugs out before the mission starts. Katrina- You're an awesome UDM! You stay safe as well.
 
January 29, 2010
Votes: +0

Sue Harper said:

Eyes glued
At my age, it takes a lot to get me online at home, but I shall be following you guys and thinking of you both. Proud to know you. Take care
 
January 29, 2010
Votes: +1

Alysia Harvey said:

All the best
Hi Nate,

This sounds like an awesome project! I am so proud of all that you are doing over there. Take care, be safe and know that you and Ken are in my prayers.

Cheers,
Alysia
 
January 29, 2010
Votes: +0
 1 2 3 4 > 

Write comment
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy