Friday, January 03, 2014

The new year

Well, the holiday season passed here at camp Morehead. Make no mistake, this is a rough place. It is about average for a small camp in Afghanistan. The weather has been not horrible. Near freezing in the morning, but up to 50 or so in the daytime. We had a light dusting of snow three days ago. We are getting mail. If anyone would like to send some chocolate or other candy, we can use it. I have no way to obtain US paper money here. The store only takes paper money! I have a decent quiet barracks. The first mattress that I had on my bed was awful. BUT- I was able to take a mattress from an unoccupied bed, and it is much better. There is hot water in the shower house. I got a small coffee maker, and some flavored coffee sent from the USA. There is a decent internet, no waiting. Believe me, I have had worse assignments in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter is coming

Wednesday afternoon 11 Dec. Cool here in Afghanistan. Last night we had a drizzling rain, the whole camp is damp. I was sick last night, and I had to run to the bathroom in the morning. I had a small breakfast. The lunch was excellent. Tacos, enchiladas, refried beans. I ate well. We got a new instuctor today, and I helped him move into our barracks. We were supposed to attend a security briefing today, but the briefer did not make it. We have been re-scheduled for Thursday, and Friday is our off day. This looks like a great project, I am excited about completing the entire year, and perhaps getting another project with this firm, or on a training project with another firm. As the combat role for the USA is winding down, the Afghan police and Army will be increasing their roles. So there will be training roles for subject experts like me.

Monday, December 09, 2013

I was transferred to Camp Morehead, east of Kabul. About 45 minutes driving time, from my old Camp. The camp is small, but it has a decent barracks, and the shower house has hot water. The chow hall is decent, but my old discomfort has returned. It is December, and the cold weather has not arrived. The days are pleasant, about 70 degrees! All I need is a light jacket for night wear. The barracks is as quiet as a tomb, but I still have some difficulty sleeping. The project is on track. I drove back to Eggers yesterday, and collected some additional materials. For now, we are setting up the classrooms, and preparing for the students. I met an Afghan man today. He had light skin, and Slavic features. Obviously he is a child of one of the Afghan women who were raped when the Soviets invaded in 1979. I pray that we will not meet the same fate as the Soviets. We came here to help the Afghans, and to crush the Taliban, and make this a safe nation. I believe we will be able to do this.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

One more day here

I got an email from a brother in Montana. He thinks I can write a book. I cannot imagine if anyone is interested in what I have to say. I got Thursday off, and worked on Friday. And Saturday. someone left our barracks, and he left behind a blanket. I am using it. The barracks is OK, I guess. at least it is quiet. My typical day. The barracks get noisy about 0630. men starting to wake up .I get up around 0700am. I get a shower every two days. The weather is cool, and showering every day is not necessary. The water in the shower is good enough. It is disenfected, but not "potable". You should not get any in your mouth, so that makes singing in the shower not advisable. I dress, and go to the chow hall. The food is good, you eat on cardboard with plastic forks. I try to get a bowl of cereal sometimes. The chow hall has UHT milk. I was first introduced to UHT milk, when I lived in Germany 1976. I wish I could get UHT milk in the USA. but it is illegal in most places. The "terps" call in on the cell phone about 0800am. I have to go to the front gate, and meet the three men. Then I must escort them through security. Then are patted down, and x-rayed, and the metal detector wand is used. Then they must do the retinal scan. I take them to the office. more later.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving day at Eggers

Greetings all! I got up today, as usual. Then I ate a small breakfast. I actually forgot it was Thanksgiving day. At the chow hall, we had an excellent feast. A two-star General officer was on the serving line, dishing out mashed potatoes. I get today off, and then I will work tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two weeks at Eggers


I have been here two weeks. (not counting the week I was away at Forward Operating Base Shank). The base is small, and easy to get around. There is no ATM and no way to get any paper money. I had my wife send me some cash in the US Mail. The food is about the same as usual. Greasy, industrial-grade institutional food. I was so tense last afternoon, that eating was impossible. And this morning, breakfast was out of the question. I went to the chow hall for lunch, and happily there was barbequed chicken, which was excellent. I also had a poorly made beef enchilada, and some chili. I have eaten so much chili in my 9 years here, that I could float a boat with the stuff. Also cookie and cream Ice Cream, bravo. I got a couple of talking books, and I will now listen to the story of Bunker Hill. By 800pm, I am exhausted, and then I just crawl into the bed and sleep very soundly. Then at 0300am I wake up, and it is difficult to go back to sleep. At 0800am, I go to the front gate, and pick up the interpreters.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bombing today

There was a bombing today near where I am in Kabul. I did not hear it. But my firm did a "roll call" to account for all of us. Next week there will be a "Loya Jirga". This is a conference , or "rendezvous", when tribal chiefs from all over the country will meet to "pow wow" with each other. We can expect more terrorism , and more bombings, during the conference. We shall see.

Pressing on..

There is no Masonic lodge here at Camp Eggers. The Camp is closing, and the military and civilian personnel will be relocated. I will move to Camp Phoenix.. I have been in contact with a man who is in Texas, and we might possibly get a military lodge underway in Camp Phoenix. I have had some illness here, the usual traveller's discomfort. Just must keep running to the men's room . We do have an informal Masonic assembly here. I met some of the men last night, we had a short discussion. Since there is no lodge here, I need not be concerned about the possibility of attending a "clandestine" lodge.

Monday, November 11, 2013

two weeks at the roof of the world

I have been here for two weeks. Afghanistan does not change. After the Americans (and other nations depart) it will go back to being a primitive country, ruled by the war-lords. Democracy will not take root here, this is not South Korea. I returned from my first road trip (on this project). I did not get a chance to shower for over a week. When I got back to my barracks, I took the mother of all showers, and scrubbed myself down to the raw skin. Unhappily, I still have the traveler's discomfort. Five trips to the toilet every day. The food never changes here! The same boneless chicken, and tough beefsteaks, that I have been eating since 2004. All served on cardboard, and you eat with plastic forks. The breakfast is solid and greasy. Bacon and eggs, grits, frosted mini-wheats. The company issued me a cellphone. Cellphones in Afghanistan, do not have monthly plans like the USA. You have to buy minutes at the phone store. There is a "secret" number, that you must scratch off, then key that number into the phone. As you talk, the minutes go down, and then you go buy some more. I bought my own minutes, and the firm gave me some additional minutes. I forgot to take my phone charger with me, on the road trip, and the battery ran down. I bought a new charger for $10, so now I have a spare. I will know better, next time. Always bring a spare battery charger. I am continuing my in-processing. One thing I could really use is a spare laundry bag. The laundry office gives you a bag, with a serial number. You must fill the bag with your soiled laundry, and turn it in. You cannot use your own bag! And you can only have one bag. If I had a spare bag, I could "rotate" and have one in the laundry, and one in the barracks, and just exchange them. When I was at Kandahar, a lodge brother got me a spare bag, and I was able to obtain a third bag from some one else. I was able to turn the laundry around quickly! My barracks did not have any chairs. No place to sit down in my quarters. So I went to gym, and "appropriated" a chair, and took it to the room. Problem solved. Afghanistan is a dirty country. Soot, filth, pollution, etc. Today I saw a man sprinking water on the street with a water can, like you would water your garden with. Turns the dust to mud. This country is either a pile of dust or a lake of mud. And it is DRY here. Relative humidity very low, so my mouth and throat are always dry. And the elevation here in Kabul is about 7000 feet. So I am getting used to the thin air. Basically, Afghanistan SUX. But I would rather be working here , that unemployed back home.

Friday, November 08, 2013

First week in Afghanistan

I got my first week in Afghanistan. I am in an open-bay barracks, third floor. No privacy, not even a locker. I have to store my personal items on the top bunk. I got my first assignment, I had to fly to Logar province, Camp Petre. The base is a join USA/Romanian base. I had to do an assessment on 13 Afghans. I stayed in a barracks, the toilet next door, had no water, I flushed it with bottled water. I had to meet a ride, to drive 10 minutes to the chow hall. I finished the assessment, and then got a flight to Bagram. I am at the largest camp in Afghanistan. The chow hall is decent, but I have not obtained a room. I got in last night, and I slept in the waiting room.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Arrived at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan.

This has been a long trip. I was selected for the job in September. I flew to Atterbury, and when I arrived, I learned that I had no military ID. I had to fly back to Alexandria VA. Then I flew to Atterbury, and then on to Kuwait. I was sad that Ali Al Saleem has closed. It was an old friend, I flew through Ali many times in the past nine years . American contractors are now flying to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. We stay in tents, and then on to the destination. I stayed in a tent, and then I flew to Kandahar, Afghanistan . I spent 12 hours in the waiting room at Kandahar, and then I got a flight to KAIA, the civilian airport at Kabul, Afghanistan. I was lucky, and I got a room at the transient barracks, and the first hot shower I have had in 6 days. I checked in with my company, and I arranged to be picked up. The firm sent a driver, and I arrived at camp Eggers. I am now in the "swamp" a barracks. The dining hall is next door. I am only able to eat once in 24 hours, this is the worst case of jet lag, I have ever had.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Final day at Atterbury


My paperwork has been delayed,but it should be completed today, Friday 25 Oct. I am supposed to fly to Kuwait today, and then on to Afghanistan. We shall see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back at Atterbury for the fourth time


Flew from WashDC to Indianapolis on 19 Oct. Got the shuttle bus to Atterbury, went to the barracks. Started in-processing on Sunday 20 Oct. This time, the CVS (military) computer system had my name, so I got my military ID card. (applause). We finished by 11am Sunday, and I went to the chow hall. Got some fried chicken and baked fish. Army food never changes. Then I watched some TV, and went back to the barracks. The barracks is almost empty. only two other men in my section. I forgot to bring any towels, so I must go to WalMart and get some towels.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Well. I went to Camp Atterbury, and when I arrived, the Army could not do the processing. With no military ID card, you cannot do the processing. So I had to fly back to my residence in Alexandria, VA. The DEERS computer now has my record, so I can get the ID card. While I was eating a candy, one of my crowns popped off my tooth. So I had to see the dentist, and get a new crown. I had it installed last night. I have been enrolled at the processing, and I will fly back to Indianapolis on Saturday 19 Oct. Then I will start the processing again. Then back to Kuwait. I have done the process, once at Fort Bliss Tex, 5 times at Fort Benning, GA, and this will be the fourth time at Atterbury.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Paperwork foul-up


Guess what? There was a glitch in the paperwork. The man who used to handle the taskings, is not working due to the government shutdown. So my paperwork is held. So I must spend an extra week in the barracks in Camp Atterbury. At least I am on the payroll.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Day 1 at Atterbury


I checked in this morning. Began the paperwork. Cold, damp, rainy, generally miserable. I am still not in the Army computer system, so I cannot get a military identity card. Will start on it tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

arrived at Atterbury


Back at Atterbury. I flew from Reagan National at 200pm, there were two members of congress on the flight. I told them that contractors do not get medical care at the bases in Afghanistan. The flight was ok, but the airplane is small. I got my luggage, and got the shuttle bus to Atterbury. Then I got my room assignment in the barracks. I wish the firm had budget for rental cars, and hotel. The next week will be like the previous times. I did the processing once at Fort Bliss, and five times at Fort Benning, and this is the third time at Atterbury. The army took the television out of the main hall :-( How sad. But I guess that I can cope with it. I took two more of the on-line army courses. On Sunday, I will meet at 0800, and begin the processing. The flight to Kuwait is on 11 Oct.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Heading back to Afghanistan


I am delighted to report that I have been hired by a firm (I do not care to disclose the name here). I signed the contract, and I took my physical exam last week. I lost 30 pounds in the last six months. I am as healthy as a buffalo, but I must be seen again by the Army doctors at Camp Atterbury. I will fly to Indianapolis on 5 Oct. I will go to the barracks, and spend a week in Army processing. I have done Fort Bliss (El Paso) once, and Fort Benning (Columbus Georgia) five times, and Atterbury three times. This is my tenth time through the Army processing for overseas deployment. I will be working in downtown Kabul, I have been there many times, but I have not worked in Kabul since 2004. I was working for a firm, and my contract concluded on my 50th birthday. I flew home immediately. Six days later, my breakfast table was blown up by a truck suicide bomber. I think this will be an excellent contract. I am scheduled to work for a year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another Interview


I got up Sunday morning, and I received an email from Afghanistan, asking me to be home for a phone interview on Monday. After all these months, the interviews are coming! I will return to Afghanistan soon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interviewed!


I did an interview, and the individuals I interviewed with were very nice. I was informed that another candidate was selected. I am still looking.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rumors!


There is a rumor going around, that I have been hired by a firm. I do not know how this rumor got started. I would like to know more about this position. Who hired me? When do I start? and what is the salary/benefits? If anyone has any information, please send it along. I am still seeking employment, I have a couple of leads, and I send out applications. Check out my linkedin profile. http://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesemartintelecomm

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interviewed!!


I have been out of work since February. Even though there is a war on, and I have been working in Iraq/Afghanistan since 2004. I interviewed today, with a major firm, that has a satellite project in Afghanistan. Then, when I got home, the project manager called me from Afghanistan, and we discussed the job, and life in Afghanistan. The firm has other candidates, but they indicated that a decision will be made in less than a week. If they hire me, I will return to Afghanistan.
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