The Transition Home

First Impressions

Greetings from Kandahar! As I come towards the end of my first few weeks in country, I’m at a loss of words for my initial impressions. The landscape here is absolutely gorgeous; some of the most beautiful mountains and deserts I’ve ever seen. The weather here is disgustingly hot at 110-120 degrees each day. My soldiers and I have been drinking at least 2 gallons of water a day. Our living conditions are far more simple than I expected considering we’re staying on the 2nd largest base in Afghanistan with over 14,000 troops from 42 countries stationed here. There’s no plumbing, or potable water source. Rather, there are truckloads of bottled water sitting around the post. Unfortunately, they bake in the hot sun to the point where you could hard boil an egg with the water. No standard plumbing also means no sewage system. Rather, human waste is deposited into one central deposit affectionately known as the “shit pool”…the smell travels for miles and is absolutely hideous. Access to phone and internet comes short and infrequently, but we make due with what we have. We’re living in a tent right now with a gaping hole at the top. it turns into a sauna by day and icebox by night…at least its the desert and it hasn’t rained quite yet! (knock on wood)

After hearing stories of soldiers coming back from Iraq with their own rooms, constant access to internet and phone, videogames, and mini-shopping malls on post, I’m sure some of the members of our unit were a bit disappointed to see what life in theater would really be like. Despite the mediocre living conditions, there is very little complaining, at least from my platoon. We’re enjoying the sense of adventure as our operational tempo picks up. The cohesion between our team has grown infinitely stronger. We’ve morphed into each other’s family away from our parents, wives, and kids. There is a deeper sense of respect between us which was certainly missing while we were in garrison. I’m not sure how to describe it quite yet, but when I figure it out, I’ll be sure to share it.

Till then, updates to come will include life on patrol, Afghanistan Elections, and Ramadan…it’s going to be a great trip 🙂 Thanks for all the support!

-rajiv

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12 responses

  1. Matt P.

    Thanks for keeping us updated bro. Counting the days to your safe return.

    1 August 09 at 13:11

  2. Cam Srpan

    My God,Jives…I can’t imagine. You and your men are so stong. My prayers and lots of hugs are with all of you.
    Take care, my dear student,
    Cam S.

    1 August 09 at 14:14

  3. MG

    I am surprised that the USACE (at least) has not sent a public works oriented detachment to get wells drilled and plumbing installed.

    Even a handful of hand-pump wells (if the water table is high enough) would give you cool water and reduce the transport requirements. Along with “field-expedient” hygiene.

    Furthermore, there are copious decentralized waste treatment methods that don’t create such a smell. Some of them even create usable combustible gases.

    /snark on

    I would blame it on George W. Bush, but he isn’t the president any more.

    /snark off

    2 August 09 at 02:09

  4. Meredith

    Hey Rajiv! I am so glad to hear an update from Kandahar. It is great that your platoon has grown so close and that everyone’s trust level continues to grow. It sounds like you are taking everything in stride, including the oppressive heat and the ever present stench. Animesh says hi, and we love and miss you!

    2 August 09 at 15:21

  5. Keep the reports coming! With all the money the government spends, they can’t put some of it into sanitation for the troops? Rajiv, excellent reporting. To bad you aren’t on the cover page of the NY Times. Maybe then would someone listen. Thank you for an outstanding job.

    3 August 09 at 14:07

  6. Nelson

    From talking with my NCOs, that sounds about right. I’m sorry about the shit pond. Whatever you do, don’t barbeque! Well hope your experience is as fullfulling as mine is turning out to be. Keep me updated.

    3 August 09 at 16:26

  7. Rajiv, stay safe! How many men are in a platoon?

    3 August 09 at 20:24

  8. Valerie Vo

    I’d follow you anywhere, sir! I’m amazed at everything, lapping up every word – good luck and get your butt home safe after you’re done saving the world. 🙂

    7 August 09 at 00:36

  9. Sabina

    Hey buddy!!

    I miss our phone conversations and do think of you often. I am glad to at least get to read these updates and find out how you are. I see that you’re adjusting well (as expected) 🙂 It is definitely humbling for us here to read these updates and about the living conditions, as it probably is (was) for you all to experience them.

    I look forward to reading more about your stay and experiences, especially Ramadan, and how it is experienced there until these conditions by both sides…. I hope everyone is respected.

    Stay safe, healthy, and strong, inshAllah!!

    7 August 09 at 20:00

  10. Bill Johansen, One First

    Hey soldier. We see your folks quite often. Susan is waiting for a list from your MOM of stuff that you or your PLT might like/need in your CARE box.If you don’t mind, I will share your latest thoughts (First Impressions) at our Lexington Vets meeting of 14 Sep.

    Am half way through HORSE SOLDIERS. Well done.
    Would suggest THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE by Craig Mullaney–USMA, Oxford, Afghganistan. Good stuff.

    Need something, let us know.

    Keep those men out of the hot sun 🙂

    10 August 09 at 20:19

  11. Brian

    Rajiv,

    Great to read your update. No doubt, you will be able to positively affect the situation there.

    Lead your troopers well.

    Brian

    11 August 09 at 15:13

  12. I pray God to keep you safe and watch over you.

    12 August 09 at 15:49

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