From Our Officer in the AOR


Our Officer in the Area of Operations sends along observations and impressions from his first day in Kabul:

Very first impression walking from the C-130 to the bus for transport to the passenger terminal … looks just like Las Vegas.  By that I mean it’s HOT and all the mountains that surround Las Vegas are dark brown, rocky and without vegetation.  Additionally, in some cases you can see urban sprawl climbing up the mountain sides.  Now in Afghanistan, urban sprawl is more mud huts and walls predominantly although in one certain spot, very modern looking homes with swimming pools were visible.

Random [observations]: Third world poverty, chaos, fresh fruit stands everywhere, stray dogs & cats everywhere, open sewage pouring from buildings, garbage piles being shoveled into trucks by garbage collectors for disposal, children everywhere giving the convoy “thumbs up,” enormous, spine-jolting potholes, traffic circles where traffic doesn’t move for 5 minutes, no driving rules whatsoever, road construction, security checkpoints in front of all compounds, office buildings, major businesses and construction companies, horse-drawn carts of watermelons and flowers, goats and sheep crossing the road randomly with no visible shepherd.

[B]eing in the armored RV, I couldn’t smell anything but it had to smell bad.  The children were all smiling and 90% of them waved and gave our convoy “Thumbs up.”  There were some young boys who gave us the finger.  Most adults just stared, especially the women escorting their children.  School had just gotten out across Kabul and there were children everywhere … playing in the street, kicking a soccer ball, using sticks for a sword fight.  There are shops in Afghanistan for everything.  Then, in front of most shops, are just small stands that sell everything, too, especially fresh fruit and vegetables.  Kabob houses and bakeries dominate the landscape.  We were constantly stuck in traffic.  The gunners on top of the HUMVEEs were always scanning their appropriate sectors.

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  1. Profile Photo Podcaster

    Peter, the bad news for our officer in the AOR is that table manners in theater is a lost cause.  Best to eat with one hand and swat with the other.  Otherwise, the flies get more of your meal than you do.

    The good news is that gold is really cheap.  That is, unless G. Gordon Liddy is running those commercials in the neighborhood. 

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member

    OOITAOR is right. Last year when I made my first drive north from Las Vegas to Indian Springs, NV (Home of Creech AFB), I was blown away by how much the surrounding terrain looked exactly like the drive north out of Kabul to Bagram AB along ‘Route Bottle‘.

    Fortunately Rt 95 in Nevada has a lot lower threat environment….

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Editor

    This is great stuff. Peter, we should get your AOR guy a Ricochet login pronto! I’d love to see some pictures.

    You know, this is all very deja vu, at least to me. It feels like the darker days of the Iraq conflict — I know they’re very different, but still. One thing the McChrystal events really did was bring the Afghan war into focus for a lot of Americans. And it bears reminding people that not too long ago, the war in Iraq was “hopeless” and “lost” and “totally bungled.” These days, the news out of Iraq is almost entirely about Iraqi political intrigues. Which is a welcome change from the old days.

    Might we look back on Afghanistan the same way, in 5 years?

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member

    Is he sure “thumbs up” means there what it means here? As I recall, our pilots had to switch to the “o.k.” sign during WWII because “thumbs up” meant something very different to the French.

    • #4
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