August 29, 2003


A couple emails from "D.," a colleague with the Canadian contingent in Kabul, recently received.

In another email, D. also praises the work of National Post imbedded reporter Chris Wattie for coverage of the Canadian contingent. I'd concur. Wattie is actually former CF himself, and knows the score.

Aug. 22:

Had an interesting day today and was out on the range. On the half hour trip there in our armoured personnel carrier, we passed through an abandoned Soviet base with literally hundreds of tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and mine layers, all sitting in the desert with rust. Some had significant battle damage and others looked almost new. The buildings on the base had a lot of
damage, complete with roof plates waving in the wind, almost beckoning, but in a sinister way. There was even a grave yard for the Soviet soldiers, now long forgotten in this spooky ghost town. Lots of caves and bunkers which the Taliban also used.

The whole place is mined, and the range area was in the middle of the desert with a very dramatic mountain as a backstop, also packed with Soviet mines. A few camels went by, pulled along by their nomad masters who looked at us curiously. Some dust devils wandered through as well. They are small tornadoes, and can really kick up the desert floor.

This country is very beautiful, but it is quite haunted. A truly spooky place.

Aug. 28:

All is well here, and this is the land of surrealism and paradox. For example: you are not allowed to take guns to work, while I am not allowed to be without one. You must do up your seatbelt to save your life. For me the extra seconds in getting out of my jeep would mean my life, so seat belts here are forbidden. The dust storms in the late afternoon are so severe that you can not see more that 500 feet, yet at night, I have a spectacular view of the Milky Way. Here's a good one; I am in the middle of an islamic republic (what's left of it), but on Sundays, our padre conducts our church service in a modular tent. (We leave our pistols and rifles at the door). Our padre is a woman - the locals would love that!

I am in a very interesting job, probably the best one here. In the morning, I leave my tent at about 6:30 for breakfast in the mess tent (pistol on, hat off), then go to my office which is in a heavily battle damaged building. The office is air conditioned. I go to the ___ and get the latest threat estimate and then every position reports on their area. It is back to my office for a little organization. I may have several meetings that day - if they are outside the camp, then the flak vest goes on, the combat vest and helmet too, and then I am off in a vehicle - jeep, armoured personnel carrier, or SUV, to meet a Wakil,
another member of the multinational contingent, maybe a war lord or a mullah (all have their private armies - one of them had a stunning collection of Soviet tanks) and then back to camp. In our HQ are military officers from Germany, Croatia, UK, US, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Sweden - you name it. Every once in a while we sit over a coffee and play "my bombed out building is better than your bombed out building" and other amusing games.

Posted by BruceR at 10:46 AM