Sunday, 12 November 2006

Things on My Mind

It's been a while since I posted here but I have some things on my mind. Here I am posting about Afghanistan. For those who have read my profile you know that I'm in the military, been in it for 22 years now, and I've seen my fair share of troubled places. I've enjoyed my time in the service and have gotten a chance to see parts of the world I may not have ever seen had I not joined the military.

I last did a tour in 2003 when Canada decided to go back to Afghanistan for a second time. I spent 2 months there providing a communications link back to Canada for the rest of the troops that were there building a camp in Kabul in preparation for the rest of the Canadian troops to come over. Things were fairly quiet for the most part, the Taliban hadn't been doing much in the first month that I was there. During the second month we experienced our first major disturbance and I'll never forget that day. I had been working the midnight shift and having finished the shift I headed for my tent to catch some rack time before the heat of the day came on. About an hour and a half after falling asleep I wake up to the sound of a very loud explosion. I wait to hear the attack siren and PA system come alive with an announcement to head for the bunkers, but it never comes. The heat is starting to build, it's already around 20 Celsius under the canvas, so I go back to sleep to catch a few more hours before the heat becomes unbearable. Waking up around noon, the temperature under the canvas now up to around 35 Celsius and impossible to sleep anymore, I get up and head for a shower before going to the mess hall for lunch. There's a fair amount of activity in the camp, but then it's mid-day, so I don't think much about it. After grabbing a bite to eat I head for our Internet shop to get some online time. The Internet shop is near our medical section and it's then that I realize what's going on as I note several foreign soldiers with crutches and bandages. To confirm my thoughts I ask around and find out that the explosion I had heard earlier was a bus load of German soldiers getting hit by a suicide bomber about a mile away from the camp. Some of the wounded had been brought to the camp to receive medical attention. The unfortunate Germans had been heading for the airport to catch their flight home after completing their tour.

That was the biggest incident to happen in the short time that I had been there, but that was enough of an incident to firmly put in my mind that I didn't want to be there. Sad to say as I've always believed that Canada can help other countries and people in need, and have always been happy to be somewhere helping a country and its people rebuild itself. Afghanistan and it's people do need the help, but their people have got to do more for themselves as well. The country is desolated from decades of war. Streets are in very poor condition and few are paved. Buildings still bear the scars of bullets and bombs. Driving is a challenge as cars, trucks, military vehicles, animals and people all share the road. Pollution is rampant, the air thick with smoke and dust, the rivers are no more than creeks full of rotting garbage and rusting vehicles. Almost everyone who goes there ends up getting sick at one time or another. I spent a day and a half sedated in sick bay during my third week there because I got sick (no, I didn't eat any of the local food or drink any of the local water).

So why am I writing about this now, 3 years after it happened? Well, I've been asked twice in the last couple months if I wanted to go to Afghanistan. My answer to that was a resounding no, I did not want to go back again. It appears that wasn't the answer they were looking for as on Friday afternoon (Nov 3) I got a call at home ( I had finished working a midnight shift that morning) from my Chief telling me that my name had gone forward to the CO for a tour that takes place in February. I should know more on Wednesday (Nov 8) whether or not I will be going.

I originally did this post over at MySpace. It's early Thursday morning now and I'm still waiting to hear anything. I have to hope that the old saying "no news is good news". Keeping my fingers crossed.

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