I recently took a short (very short) contract that took me back to Afghanistan. for me, it's been 10 years since I first set foot on Bagram Air Base and established a clinic.
This time, I was assigned to a FOB (forward operating base) in Kunar Province. As FOB's go, it was nice. We had trees, aromatic eucalyptus, orange, pomelo, and grapefruit; and we had grass. The kind where you could take off your shoes and socks and curl our toes in!
The air was so clear, albeit dry, that you could literally see for miles:
The place was an old Russian base. I think the caretaker was an old muj form that time. He did a good job maintaining the place which made it a lot more liveable that a dusty hole-in-the-wall.
Amazingly, the US military hasn't cut everything down, like they seemed to have done at so many other bases.
The locals ranged from filthy rich to dirt poor. The filthy rich Afghani's were landholders, politicians, or smuggled lumber or minerals. The area is rich in lapu lazuli and sapphire. No warlords now (yet). They'll return after we leave.
The poor ones....well, they are poor in that part of the world.
The one on the right was my 'terp, not a local.
The kids were happy to get blankets, socks, and other excess sundries from us before we departed the area. The guards at the gate were really happy to see us donate some goods and build relations with the locals. It seemed to work for all.
I was able to visit my old clinic, caress my old b'ambulance,but that was about it. Shipping clothing home, traveling on a real slow bus from one side of the base to the other, and putting up with a bottom-of-the-bucket employer took most of the 16 days I was stuck there.
Oh yeah, I woke up around 0230 one morning to hear an explosion nearby......about 5 minutes later, the "Voice-From-The-Sky" announced "Incoming", Incoming".
Nothing like being a bit late..........
That was probably it for me. I had a lot of trouble getting over there, the job just wasn't worth it, and contracting is way too competitive today. Not to mention the age factor........but we won't go there.
I need to thank @Allegra for listening to, and putting up with my pre-deployment b*tching. It seems the military is now willing to cut the throat of it's own vets when it comes to us providing the skillsets to support them.