What a strange place this life is. This assignment is certainly the last thing I expected, it is yet to be determined if that is a good thing or no.
I am currently assigned to the IJC headquarters at the Kabul Afghanistan International Airport (KAIA). IJC is the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Joint Command. Recall that our operations in Afghanistan are really a NATO mission, led by us. NATO HQ in Brussels has a forward HQ that represents all the partner nations of the alliance. I work in the CJ-7 (Combined Joint-7) staff. We are concerned with all of the pre-mobilization, home station and in theater training and capturing and publishing the lessons learned from units in theater in order to improve the pre-mob training value. As one of two Majors on the staff (I am the others replacement) I am the junior guy in the group. We are all US except the Lithuanian O-6 Colonel who is supposed to be coming in to take over as chief. Our Colonel will then become his deputy. I am looking forward to meeting this guy, since he was apparently here with the Russians in the early ‘80’s.
Living conditions aren’t bad. I am in a hard building, sharing a room with a US LTC. For $80 a month I can get in room internet, still thinking about that. The Dining Facility caters to the international staff here, with the food heavily influenced by European and particularly British cuisine. So, baked beans and stewed tomatoes and orange marmalade are the order of the day for breakfast. Cold cuts and some pretty good cheeses are also common. Otherwise, the food is insipid with lack of variety and no sense of seasoning.
This part of Kabul has a distinct rotten egg smell I am still trying to identify. The weather is relatively cool at the moment and light rain from time to time. I have an excellent view of the surrounding mountains.
We also have access to the other forces PX’s, the Italians run the coffee bar and a pizzaria. There is a very good Afghan bazaar and I found some very intriguing items like a hammer lock from an 1868 Enfield and a bayonet marked Enfield 1864. And, I can get genuine Cohiba’s for 7 euro a stick!
Still a bit jet-lagged. But, we have time to get in two workouts a day and I don’t think I shall be tempted to overeat here, so it looks good for me getting in great shape this year. My biggest downer is it seems I shall not get out much, nor interact with Afghans near as much as I wanted to. But, if I can avoid the staff squabbles and learn as much as I can about how a staff at this level works, it will be a productive year.