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March 17, 2005

News From Afghanistan

Army Public Affairs guy and Castle War Correspondent MSG Keith sends:

14 Mar 2005 Panjshir Province in the Panjshir Valley Our new general is back to doing the Grand Openings of the National Army Volunteer Centers around Afghanistan. There are 10 or so left to open so I'll get to do some more traveling every week or so. Yesterday I went with the advance team to the Panjshir Valley to do final checks on one we will open on Wednesday. It was a four hour drive each way on roads that were some of the most kidney jarring roads I've ever been on. They could have done Jeep wrangler commercials on these roads.

We passed through several small villages on the way. The kids were always waving at us and giving us a thumbs up. Before the Americans arrived in Afghanistan, a thumbs up was a derogatory gesture. Dumb Americans that we are, that was what we use everywhere we go. After a while, the Afghans started using the gesture as we use it, as a good thing. Although some times, I'm not really sure...
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After finally getting to the village where the NAVC was we checked out everything to make sure it good to go. Not a lot of kids around today to get photos of, but maybe tomorrow there will be. We ate lunch with the NAVC commander. It was the typical chicken with rice, Pepsi, and tangerines for desert. Not as good as most, but not bad.

After lunch, we visited the tomb of Mossoud. It was very cool. Mossoud was an Afghan who fought against the Russians, then against the Taliban. He was killed by some suicide bombers on Sep 9, 2001. His history is pretty cool. Do a Google search and read about him.
One of the things that struck me, and something one of the general's security detail talked about on the trip, was how many great armies have had their butt's kicked in Afghanistan. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the Persians, the British, the Russians, the Taliban, although it took our help for that one. The Panjshir Valley is called 'ambush alley' and for a reason. If you look at the photos, you'll see that in parts, the walls go straight up. There are dead Russian tanks and armored vehicles all the way up and down the Panjshir.

Some upside down in the river where Russians were ambushed, a vehicle disabled, and the only way around it was to push it out of the way. That usually meant into the river.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. I'm going to the grand opening tomorrow, but obviously won't take as many scenery shots.


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John | Permalink | Comments (5) | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Observations on things Military
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