Monday, April 6, 2009
On the move
Got the word the other day that I'm going to be helping our Afghan battalion transition from the old Warsaw Pact weapons systems to NATO weapons. Whether it's a good idea for these guys to give up their AK's for M16's is something I'll probably explore more in the future, but my gut tells me this is one of those ideas that looks good on paper but in reality will not work well. We'll see. Anyway, my new role necessitated a trip to Camp Blackhorse on the outskirts of Kabul. To get over here I first went to Jalalabad Air Field and then caught a ride on a civilian-contracted Huey. Why they need to contract Canadian companies to fly people around in Hueys is beyond me, but I was happy the service existed. So I flew over here with a reporter from Leatherneck magazine and another captain from the army. It was my first trip in a Huey and I enjoyed it. It's nice to be able to fly on a military aircraft when you can actually see out the window. Not that there's much to see...the terrain between J'Bad and Kabul is desolate. With the exception of the narrow river regions and the adjacent irrigated areas, most everything is sandy and brown, although some of the hills were covered with a bit of a green peach fuzz.
I didn't see many population centers on the flight, though tucked away into the mountains you'll see the isolated village from time to time. I'm not sure how high a Huey can fly, but we didn't fly over all of the mountains - the pilots had to seek passes through the mountains to get us over here to the west. As for the bird itself, I didn't see any sophisticated navigation equipment inside...the navigation aid consisted of a Garmin GPS on the dash and a map in the co-pilot's lap. "Continue 400 feet and turn left at the craggy peak". Ok, it didn't really say that.
Camp Blackhorse is emblematic of the KBR-constructed military base with the straight lines, rocks on the ground, conex boxes, plywood-constructed B-huts, etc. If there's one aspect of military operations we're really good at it would be constructed made-to-order bases. This is just the kind of place that I hate, but I'll take good advantage of the chow and weight room while I'm here. During my check-in the KBR lady pointed out to me the "emergency laundry" facility. I guess not having clean clothes constitutes an emergency around here. Hopefully, I'll get to see Kabul on a convoy before I leave.