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The planes! The planes!

Kandahar | Day 14 – It was another travel day for Ken and I and as we were flying over southern Afghanistan in a Canadian Chinook, I realized that now would be a good time to talk about my bosses.

I’ve been intimately familiar with close air support for years now. I’ve been a public affairs journalist during three of my deployments and each time something would happen where I would have to learn a little bit more about it. Still, I’m not a pilot and I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject.

Every time I’ve visited with infantry the subject of close air support comes up, it must be my uniform or something. Since I’ve always seen the Air Force side, it’s always been intriguing for me to hear about how the soldiers see them.

Fast movers, a soldier term for aircraft, are sometimes

 
The Lion of Panjshir

Mazer-e Sharif | Day 15 – Today was our second travel day, which basically means Ken and I were stuck in air terminals all day. It did give us a chance to catch up on the Olympics though. Traveling Afghanistan is extremely difficult. I think the only thing more difficult is finding an internet connection.

One of the militaries sayings is hurry up and wait. This morning, Ken and I were in a mad dash to the terminal because we thought we were going to be late for the flight. We get to the terminal and sit for a few hours because the plane was late. Then they say “The plane is here! Everyone grab your kits!” So we again rush and throw our gear on and run to the bus, which speeds us to the other side of the airport. We discover a German cargo plane awaiting fuel and we sat on the flight line waiting for at least 90 minutes. The goal is to be ready for anything, not for anything to have to wait on you. It works, but

 
Northern Impression

Camp Northern Lights | Day 16 – We’ve had such an interesting day with the Swedish and Finnish provincial reconstruction team, I’m not even sure where to begin.

We were picked up by the team at 9 a.m. today and were taken to Camp Northern Lights, which is within the city of Mazer-e Sharif. From the first moment we left the gate, I could tell there was something totally different here. There was construction.

It wasn’t just one building being constructed, but all along the route there was construction. The gem of all of this was out in the distance, there was a massive office building being built, it had at least 10 floors. The Swedish crewmembers began to joke about it being Mazer-e Sharif’s first skyscraper.

 
The Afghan Face

Camp Marmal | Day 17 – It was a little bit of a quiet day today, since Ken and I headed back to the airport. Yes, I admit it, I called Camp Marmal, Mazer-e Sharif in my Day 15 blog. I could have just changed it, but that would be cheating. Mazer-e Sharif is about a 15 minute drive from here.

Since we weren’t out on any missions today, I thought it would be a good time to talk about development in northern Afghanistan. This story really starts when Ken and I were in Western Afghanistan in January. We were on a mission through these big mountains and we were talking about natural resources in this country. Yes, Ken and I really do live and breathe this country. We both agreed that in order for real development to start the Afghans need to do it, they need the resources to do it and they need a way to get the resources to the hardest to reach places. Afghans are very hard workers and they would do the work if they were trained and had

 
The will and the way

Tanji Marmor | Day 18 – It felt like we were on a safari today and Afghanistan is gorgeous.

We rode with the German’s to a place named Tanji Marmor. A German commander went there to talk with the Afghan National Police chief about a bridge that was built there. Ken and I have been looking over at the mountains for days, and dreaming about visiting the place where the two mountains meet. There’s a small stream that runs between the two of them creating a footpath that is guarded by the ANP.

When the Soviet Union was occupying this country, this pass was the site of major battles between them and the Mujahadeen. The area is littered with old Soviet tanks and they sit as testaments to Afghanistan’s 30-plus years of

 
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