I will start by thanking LTC Löwenstern, CPT Schmidt, and Peter at RC North PAO for all they did along with Amy and Johannes, for making my visit memorable.

04 FEB, Monday

Back to IJC, Kabul, via Camp Bastion on a tightly packed Norwegian Air Force C-130. The aisles are so narrow my shins touched to other side. I sat across from a Norwegian Army veterinarian, on my right was a German police officer, and on my left a Norwegian Army woman Construction Engineer. To her left and the veterinarian’s right were 2 Finish soldiers. As far as I could tell there were only 2 other Americans on the plane. Both contractors heading home.

Everyone is required to travel wearing body armor, carrying a helmet, and, if they have them, their personal weapons.  Somehow it felt natural to be crammed cheek to jowl with armed and armored strangers. Yet, in many ways we’re not strangers. Each one of us either is serving or has served our country in the military. It’s really nice to once again be surrounded by strangers I can trust my life to.

Back to the C-130. This four-engine prop plane is a true work horse and the airframe has been around for decades although the engines and avionics have changed dramatically over the years. The C-130 lands flat unlike commercial aircraft which land at an angle before dropping the nose wheel. 

On a different topic, the common language (Lingua Franca) between nationalities here is English.  The level of fluency is amazing. For example, both Finish soldiers were reading books in English. There are few Americans, including me, who speak any other language to this degree.

05 FRB, Tuesday

Slow day waiting for a meeting with the officer in charge of IJC PAO which may or may not happen.  I expected some of this type of down time and, hopefully, it won’t extend for too long.

06 FEB, Wednesday

Well, the down time is over.  Had a terrific meeting with the RC East Division PAO and his staff in Bagram this morning.  This was followed by another meeting with IJC PAO this afternoon and a great e-mail with NC North.  Bottom line – the schedule for the rest on my time here is finally locked down.

For a change I "dined out" tonight. Someone told me about a Greek restaurant on base and their pizza. Sooo, I tried their pepperoni pizza. It was GREAT, ranks up there with Regina's in Boston’s North End and Reykjavik Pizza in Iceland.

The taxi ride to Bagram and back would be a book in itself. It will take me a couple days to write it up. Suffice to say any American driver would have been apoplectic or had a heart attack with the way they drive. This includes New City and Boston drivers.

And, to make things more interesting, the Afghans drive like we do on the right side of the road however, the driver sat on the right like the British. To add to the excitement, the taxi driver didn’t speak English and we had a flat tire on the way up. Details to follow in the next SITREP.