I’ve only been in Afghanistan for a few days, and almost everything I own has a light (yet very noticeable) coating of sand. It’s very dry here, and the wind blows dust everywhere. It finds its way into every nook and cranny, wreaking havoc on electronics, and giving all clothing a “just fell down in the dirt” look.
See the pics of the tents I live in, above. A few days ago, there was a rocket attack that killed two people and injured six others, very close to where I’m now staying (which doesn’t make me feel any better.) I wasn’t here when the attack occurred, but I can see where they quickly replaced the walls were the rockets damaged the huts.
The ability to keep pressing on is something I like about the military. Although we lost some people and mourn their loss, people are still going about their duties, engaging in recreation, working hard or having fun. The attacks don’t really stop anything from happening.
Anyway, we had more training today, specifically, about IEDs. (Improvised Explosive Devices.) After class, I walked around the base just to explore it.
If you don’t know much about military installations, they are like little cities. Think of the base commander as the mayor, responsible for every aspect of what happens within his city limits. The commander is responsible for all operations that occur “inside the wire” (on base.)
Outside the wire, US agencies like the USDA are working with Afghan farmers to help them feed their families. Inside the wire, Bagram has LOTS of fast-food restaurants and several dining facilities to provide healthy meals for Coalition forces.
Outside the wire, some Afghan provinces aren’t safe and some of the civilian population has to worry about being secure before they sleep at night. Inside the wire, every precaution is taken to ensure people are safe. It’s like a gated community (only this gate is topped with concertina wire!) Although the base is not 100% secluded, it’s about as safe as one can feel (given that we’re in the middle of a war.)
Outside the wire, simply obtaining running water is a challenge for some communities. Inside the wire, we’re provided with community showers and given free bottled water so we can remain hydrated in this unforgiving Afghan weather.
Outside the wire, the country is struggling to catch up to the technological standards of other countries, with little established infrastructure to support electricity or computer technology. Inside the wire, we are offered wireless hotspots, and servicemembers spend their free time surfing the net (or, um, updating their personal websites,) using their laptop computers.
You may not know it from looking at the above picture, but life inside the wire really isn’t that bad (at least when compared to life outside.)