Ok, the first part is the long post which I had planned yesterday and was unable to send due to connection delays. The second part is TK….
This morning was the second in a row with an 03xx show time. In Bagram, that is bad but not difficult since I have an alarm program on the computer and live only four blocks from the PAX terminal. Of course, once I am there, through the extremely tedious manifesting proceedures, it only takes a decision on whether to read, sleep or watch TV while waiting for the flight. In any case, is is all in the same area.
Kandahar, on the other hand, doesn’t even let you in the terminal till show time and you have been listed for the flight. I mentioned the incredibly stupidty and fun of x-raying all the bags, weapons and metal…. doesn’t matter almost what you bring, it all goes through the machine, you pick it up and stuff it back in your pocket.
Bagram – well you can get entertained by the announcements: Now calling ____-79 for Shindad. Will all manifested passengers haul their gear to Gate 1? We will be palletizing bags on Pallet 2. I repeat Pallet 2. If you want to send your gear for an adventure, please feel free to place it on an alternate Pallet.
Obviously, unaccompangied baggage is not an issue here. There is gear, bags, IBA and bodies strewn in the entry tent, the lounge, the gate and the corridors. The only place even marginally free of detritus is the DV lounge.
Bagram – Now calling Flight-xxx for Kandahar, Flight-XXX for Kabul, Flight-xxx for Mazar-i-Sharif. Gate one everyone. Please don’t leave anything behind, police up your trash, get in the right line and follow your guide to your flight after dropping your baggage on the correct pallet. Thank you for flying Air Force – your only choice! (Never mind we are on Presidental Air – a special contractor aka Blackwater).
Kandahar – after going through security, you hang out upstairs in the lounge. A nice AF SSgt comes to get us, quietly telling us to follow her. No loud announcements. If your fellow PAX don’t wake you up, you will be left behind. The DV Lounge is routinely locked to avoid it being used by the undesirables. Turns out we get to carry our stuff to the bus.
Hour in the lounge, hour on the bus (after driving around to the back of the field, we wait on the bus) followed by 50 more minutes on the C-130. TK is not a finished or modern landing place. Since we are neither tachtical or emergency, we can only land in the daylight. Which we do, with a wonderful stand-on-the-wing-tip approach repeated numerous times just for entertainment.
Tarin Kowt – the ISAF camp takes its name from the local town. Internal to it are multiple small camps, and in one is this lovely computer room currently without time limits. Our Navy Role IIe has taken over facilities from the Dutch. It is now manned by US Navy, Dutch and the Aussies. The people with whom I am traveling needed to talk hospital issues. The other two of us are going to do the standard meet and greet on the Prev Med side.
There is more than enough dust and blowing dirt to compete with Kandahar. On a high plateau, it is surround by more bleak mountains. I did see the occasional agricultural and irrigated area as we made the final approach. are Billeting, depending on the internal camp can be anything from UN Container to tent to B-Hut to warehouse. The local DFAC on Camp Holland actually has great coffee, Nutella, and real brotchen.
There are bookshelves, so I can swap out books. Now, all the two of us who are staying here over night need to do is drum up a place to lay our heads….