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The Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan, which reported in September 2010, was precipitated by events in August 2008, when US forces bombed the Afghan village of Azizabad. This gave rise to a public dispute between the US Government and the United Nations about the level of fatalities caused by the attack and about whether those killed had been civilians or Taliban-linked insurgents. Allegations soon emerged that the attack had been based on fal ...
 
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FOB Shank | Day 34 -- There's a very important portion of the Afghanistan story that I feel we haven't told successfully. It's the story of the troops living in holes next to the Afghan National Security Forces while fighting to secure this country.I look back on 30 Days, and the only time we spent with them was at Strong Point Khyber. It was a gre…
 
FOB Shank | Day 35 -- This is it, the final blog and the end to the greatest military experience of my life. Looking back I hope this project has not only opened civilian eyes to what life is like in Afghanistan, but opened military eyes as to the power of social media.In many ways this project has been a massive success. I still have all of the ra…
 
FOB Shank | Day 33 -- When times are slow, and missions fall through, I always have our 30 Day visitors to fall back on. In many ways I prefer taking your questions and directly answering them because I know that's exactly what you all want to hear and learn about versus what I'm seeing and bringing to you. I love that aspect of this project.So our…
 
Padkhvab-e Shanah | Day 32 — It was a little strange being out in the province again after we’ve spent so much time in the major cities of Afghanistan. It was actually quite nice. I’m more of a country guy versus a city guy.We headed out with soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team on a mission with a special Agricultural Development T…
 
FOB Shank | Day 31 — We’re in overtime! Due to the travel delays, we weren’t able to get to all of the regions in 30 days, so we’ve extended our trip until Sunday. We are now in Regional Command East, the "bread basket" of Afghanistan, or so I have been told. The goal now is to cover eastern Afghanistan. Throughout the trip we’ve been heavily conce…
 
Bagram Air Field | Day 30 — In honor of our project saviors I’m dedicating, what was supposed to be my last blog, to the aircrew of the U.S. Air Force C-130 who picked us up today. I didn’t have a business card handy when I was on the aircraft, so they may never even see this, but they are awesome.Everything started off peachy keen as Ken and I got…
 
PRT Herat | Day 29 - Afghanistan is such a huge topic across the world, it's easy to forget the individual stories here. So many people are grouped together and called Romanians, Croatians, Dutch or Americans, I tend to forget sometimes there are individual people here with their own individual stories and beliefs. Nazifa's story was particularly t…
 
PRT Herat | Day 26 — Thank you Chris. Your comment and questions to my "Hallelujah in Herat" blog led me on a very interesting journey. To catch everyone up, he basically asked "Why is Herat so nice," and I went out and found some answers. When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about writing about provincial reconstruction teams and what the I…
 
PRT Herat | Day 27 — We’re back! We had some problems with internet, which prevented us from uploading on time. I’m really hoping Day 26 doesn’t get lost in the stack, because I’m hoping it spurs some interesting conversation. I can’t stop thinking about the "Lion of Herat" everywhere I go. So today, Ken and I jumped in an Italian provincial recons…
 
PRT Herat | Day 28 — I love my father and the embroiled conversations that erupt between us sometimes. I cherish the moments where we disagree and we go back and forth on various facts and ideals. I haven’t always listened to him, but over the years I’ve learned that we may not always agree, but his opinions are always based on some founding princi…
 
PRT Herat | Day 25 — The weather here astounds me. Tuesday it was beautiful blue skies and the helicopter left us standing on the helipad. Wednesday it was dark grey skies and pelting down rain preventing any helicopters from reaching us. This morning, we awoke to beautiful blue skies again and we finally made it out of Kabul. We originally planned…
 
Kabul | Day 24 — Societies are riddled with bad people; it just so happens Afghanistan has a lot more of them. We were discussing who the bad people were and how they were harming society here. Since my memory is horrible, resulting in my absolute reliance on my notebook, I decided to look into who the bad people in Afghanistan are. Since weather p…
 
There is a magical place full of wonders and excitement filled with international soldiers and rich cultures… it’s known as eastern Afghanistan and I really hope to take you there someday. I’ve been there before, and in all honesty, it’s the one regional command I’m most excited about. I’ve already spent about a month in the east bouncing between v…
 
This morning I got up bright and early, jumped in an armored vehicle, and headed down the street with my new Canadian friends to explore the world of Afghan governance. We entered the district center and it was the biggest one I have ever seen. I’m used to the district centers housing a few buildings behind some barbed wire. This one was huge! It w…
 
When I face a challenge, I have no choice but to stand up, face it, acknowledge it and talk about it. There’s no denying the fact there is a lot of politics surrounding Afghanistan. At the ground level, we are not a political entity; we are simply military service members from a bunch of different countries. With that said, it would be extremely ea…
 
It felt like we were on a safari today and Afghanistan is gorgeous. We rode with the Germans to a place named Tanji Marmor. A German commander went there to talk with the Afghan National Police chief about a bridge that was built there. Ken and I have been looking over at the mountains for days, and dreaming about visiting the place where the two m…
 
It was a little bit of a quiet day today, since Ken and I headed back to the airport. Yes, I admit it, I called Camp Marmal, Mazer-e Sharif in my Day 15 blog. I could have just changed it, but that would be cheating. Mazer-e Sharif is about a 15 minute drive from here. Since we weren’t out on any missions today, I thought it would be a good time to…
 
I worry sometimes that the world looks and sees only four nations involved in operations here, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Afghanistan itself. This is one of the major reasons that Ken and I started this trip. The one thing we have learned so far is that there are so many other countries contributing as well. No, the other countri…
 
Camp Julien is no more than a bunch of little buildings set row upon row. There are no stores, and the dining facility is only open when there are students here, and even when that’s the case, the hot food is delivered from a nearby camp.โดย International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs
 
Today was our second travel day, which basically means Ken and I were stuck in air terminals all day. It did give us a chance to catch up on the Olympics though. Traveling Afghanistan is extremely difficult. I think the only thing more difficult is finding an internet connection. One of the militaries sayings is hurry up and wait. This morning, Ken…
 
Fobbit or poge, either way is a term for those who never leave the wire. There are a great many here in Kandahar. It’s actually quite painful for me to write those terms, because I know how many are grimacing right now reading them. The fact of the matter is it’s a part of military life and there are thousands of service members across this country…
 
Right now, I’m listening to my Top 100 Billboard Hits of 2008 playlist while typing and occasionally looking around at all of the smiling faces surrounding me. People are relaxed and enjoying some downtime. But I can’t, it just doesn’t seem fair. I can’t get the experience of meeting Lance Corporal Edward Swingle, a U.S. Marine wounded in action, o…
 
We finally made it out of Kandahar yesterday and took a 20-minute Canadian Chinook flight here to Camp Hasum Ghar. This camp is nestled into the side of a mountain in the middle of the desert. I can tell security here is a lot different than in Kabul. This is a black out camp, meaning no lights are used at night. You can only use red lights to walk…
 
It was another travel day for Ken and I and as we were flying over southern Afghanistan in a Canadian Chinook, I realized that now would be a good time to talk about my bosses. I’ve been intimately familiar with close air support for years now. I’ve been a public affairs journalist during three of my deployments and each time something would happen…
 
We’re still in Kabul, fighting to escape, calling all sources and pulling all strings to try and get out to the next regional command. Today we watched a bunch of helicopters come and go and we waved bye-bye as they left. The mission continues though! We’ll be out there again! We never give up. If you missed yesterday’s blog, we talked with the bla…
 
We’re in Taliban country. It took us eleven days, but we can now say we’re less than 150 yards from where the Taliban have heavy influence.I always assumed the closer you got to them, the more "war like" the environment would become. I imagined strong points like this to be under regular, heavy attack. Without giving away any specifics, the Canadia…
 
We keep running into these extremely interesting civilians who can never talk to us officially, but teach us so much about counter insurgency and what’s happening in Afghanistan. It sucks for Ken because video cameras scare them away but I can get in there and really get some good information. Today’s secret man was in his late 40’s, wore a black 8…
 
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