Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Call me a contractor, a mercenary, a war profiteer or call me an action figure. Weird.











Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The National Anthem...by Jerry Vale

video

Hello all,

Steve asked me to upload this here for him.

It is a beautiful, patriotic slide show set to my dad singing The National Anthem. A friend of my parent's put it together and it makes me smile.

For those of you that don't know my dad...he is the biggest baseball fanatic and I think his favorite professional accomplishment is probably having his recording of The National Anthem inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

It's really cool...we actually got to go see it hanging in the museum!

Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Afghan Fashion TV

We don’t get a whole bunch of channels here in the “Stan”. AFN, (armed forces network), which bring us sports, a couple movie channels, including HBO, which, over here, has commercials and is censored. CNN, BBC and Fox, which I have grown to really enjoy, a Polish music video station (quirky) and the Fashion TV Channel. Now, I had never seen FTV before and the first time was when I first got here and went to the gym one early morning. There were five of us, five guys on treadmills, all watching the catwalk. It was pretty funny.
So, in honor of fashion, I bring you….

The Fall Line, Afghanistan 2009

In the first shot Steve is sporting the Blackhawk Warrior Wear Desert Ops Boots, Vertx Tactical Pants, Wilderness Tactical belt, Vertx Action Polo, the Suunto Advisor and two handmade parachute cord wrist bands Stevieb.

The next shot features Steve in the Vertx pants, but with the Ultra Club, Cool and Dry Polo, adorned with the logo of and made famous by WPD SWAT. He’s also carrying the Bushmaster M-4 with the Eotech Holographic sights and the Inforce 6V LED light system,(from Inova) using their MIL-STD-1913 mount.

In the last shot, (from an earlier post), Steve’s stylin in the traditional Afghan pakul, perahan tuban and the dastmal. (read as hat, man-jams and blanket). He’s also sporting an AKMS , borrowed from the local Taliban.

Enjoy













Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dasara

Last weekend our Nepalese Gurkhas celebrated Dasara, the Indian holiday of the triumph of good over evil. Starting on Friday, we were witness to an animal sacrifice. This is done by means of taking the Gurkha knife (Kukri), and with one stroke, well, you get the picture. Now, it’s said to be bad luck not to do it with one stroke. Not sure if the dude on Friday was new, but it took two to complete the sacrifice. An audible groan could be heard by those present.
Saturday the ceremony was repeated, but none on Sunday. On the last day, Monday, the holiday culminated with a ceremony of putting crushed flowers on the forehead, during which prayers of long life and happiness are spoken by the leader. They let us participate, which was an honor. Then three goats were lined up and three strokes later they were preparing kabobs.

Video available upon request when I get home.



















Monday, September 21, 2009


I started this post after someone emailed me a story about Senate Bill SB-2099, which would require us to put on our 2010 1040 federal tax Form all guns that you have or own. It may require fingerprints and a tax of $50 per gun. Checked it out and it's false, but I'll post something a friend emailed anyway...


FIREARMS REFRESHER COURSE


"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."
~Thomas Jefferson

“Those who trade liberty for security have neither.”
~John Adams

Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.

An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject

Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.
Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.

You only have the rights you are willing to fight for.

Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.

You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.

Assault is a behavior, not a device.

64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
The Second Amendment is in place in case the politicians ignore the others.

Guns have only two enemies; rust and politicians.

When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.

The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

Friday, September 18, 2009





This is just a little kid, enjoying a frozen pop and a picture of me trying a hookah pipe. Apple, I think.

Living in the conex, like we do in our little neighborhood, is like living in a trailer park. Except ours are stacked and made of steel. I just hope they can take a hit, just in case. Activity has picked up again since the election results are out. Seems half the population here is not happy with the President. Kinda like back home, I guess. Just that we’re more civilized about the actions of our politicians. Or in-action. Whatever, it’s not polite to talk about religion, politics or money at dinner, right?
Anyway, I used to live in a mobile home back when I was in the Army…uh oh, it’s that time again…wavy lines…smoke…flashback….
It was 1980 or 81 and we were living in trailer park outside Ft. Bragg, I think it was on Yadkin Rd. Me, Dave and my sister, (that’s another story, and not mine to tell), shared a two bedroom bungalow in beautiful Fayetteville, NC. One night we were relaxing watching TV, and I think I was polishing my boots, like a good paratrooper does. Through the window over the television we saw the explosion at the same time that we heard it. Dave and I rushed out of the trailer to find the one next to ours in flames. We rushed to their door to make sure everyone was out and about the time we confirmed it was clear, we heard a car racing towards us. Then the sound of pop, pop, pop. As the car raced past, we saw the muzzle flashes coming from inside the car and we yelled for my sister to get down, because the homes were close together and the shots seemed to be wild. I picked up a stick and ran after the car,(what was I thinking), Dave went to check on my sister. The car took off and after making sure everyone was ok, we started spraying our trailer with the hose till the fire guys got there. We found several holes that went through our kitchen and one that went right over the pillow on my bed. Ended up creasing my helmet liner. We later learned that it was a custody dispute and the estranged father had thrown a Molotov cocktail through his family’s front window, then drove back by, firing numerous rounds from a .22 cal rifle. He then drove north to the Washington DC area, checked into a hotel and ended it with that same rifle. My sister moved back home and Dave and I moved back to the barracks.
Anyway, I hope this box I’m in can take a hit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taken on 9/11 during a ceremony we held.







A lot of people ask how the food is over here. True, when I was working in Logar, we did eat MRE's, (meals ready to eat), when we were out. But even there the food at the DFAC, (dinning facility, damn, the military has a different word for everything) was pretty good. Here's a look at our weekly menu here in Kabul, yum...


Sunday
Chicken Cordon Blu
Chili Beef
Sliced Potatoes
Pasta
Green Peas
Mixed Vegetable


Monday
Smoked Pork
Lasagna
Rice
Roast Potato
Corn
Green Peas
Corn Bread

Tuesday
Mexican Night
Beef Tacos
Chicken Fajitas
Mexican Rice
Refried Beans
Mexican Corn
Salsa
Guacamole

Wednesday
Carving Night
Smoked Turkey
Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Stuffing
Gravy
Collard Greens
Black Eye Peas


Thursday
BBQ Night
BBQ Chicken
Hamburgers
French Fries
Corn
BBQ Beans
Cheese Pasta


Friday
Grill Day
Sausage
Chicken Breasts
Tenderloin Steaks
Baked Potato
Rice
Beans
Mixed Vegetable


Saturday
Southern Fried Chicken
Salmon
Pinto Beans
Turnip Greens
Potato Cakes
Tomato/Onion
Cornbread/Biscuits
So thats it, very tasty and variety too. Also Friday, which is the Afghan's day of rest is our brunch day. Standard brunch menu at 10:00. Bon Appetit....


For you Mr. Shibley. You can't teach it....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Creed







THE PRIVATE CONTRACTORS CREED


I am a Private Contractor…I look out for myself, the operators to my left and to my right and no one else.


I will always take advantage of the fact that I can finally tell military officers to pound sand and will do so at every opportunity…


I care not for ribbons and awards for valor. I do this job for the opportunity to kill enemies of my country, and to finally get that boat I’ve always wanted…


I will be in better shape than most of the active duty personnel, although this is not hard…


I will equip myself with the latest high speed gear, and will trick out my M4 until it weighs more than 24 pounds, not because it works better, but because it looks cool in pictures…


I will carry more weapons, ammunition, and implementations of death on my person, than an infantry fire team, and when I engage I will lay waste to everything around me…


In a combat zone, I will always locate the weight room, beer and swimming pool, because I can…


I will deploy on my terms and if it ever gets stupid,


I will find another company that pays me more…


I swear!!!









My team

The crack logistics team asembled before you is my crew. From right to left,( as is the Afghan custom) is Sameer, Matiullah, Abdul Jon, Mah Afzul, Mr Steve and Allen. Good guys to work with and they get things done.




Monday, August 31, 2009

WPD SWAT


I’d like to Congratulate and recognize the Warwick Police SWAT Team. They competed in the Ct. SWAT Challenge last week. It was their first attempt in such a completion and they placed 10th out of 37 teams from all over the east coast. Most of which have competed before. High marks in Hostage Rescue and Vehicle Assaults and nothing below top 20. Impressive.
I would say former team but I believe that once you’re SWAT, you’re always SWAT. Good job guys.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waiting




Driving around the city a couple days ago, we drove right by a woman sitting in the middle of the road, asking passers by for money. On the way back, she was gone, but this boy was in her place. I can only assume he was under her burkha. This is a familiar sight in the city and often the woman will be holding a baby. Sorry for the quality of the photos, they were taken through a dirty window while speeding past.
As for the elections, there have been no significant incidents reported in the City and surrounding areas. It seems that heightened security measures are paying dividends. However, it is expected that as soon as the preliminary election results are published, supporters of Dr. Abdullah (the main opposition candidate) might take to the streets to protest on what they perceive as massive election fraud. Dr Abdullah and other candidates have publicly accused incumbent President Karzai and his camp of widespread fraud. Possible violent protest demonstrations are possible.
The start of “Ramadan” (Islamic month of fasting) may also have a significant impact on security countrywide. During Ramadan which started on 22 August 2009, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in a spiritual exercise that teaches discipline, self-restraint and generosity. They also pray for forgiveness for past sins, guidance and try to purify themselves through self restraint and good deeds. However, in Muslim tradition it is also perceived as a month of jihad, a month in which Allah grants military victories to his believers," says a report by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
This is your eye in the sky reporter, Gern Blanston, coming to you live from Afghanistan.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mars

So I’m back on Mars. Left Boston Tuesday on Lufthansa, which by the way, is a great airline. Good food, nice flight attendants and a new plane. Flew to Frankfurt then on to Dubai, which is a nice airport. They’re giving away a car, like a lot of places do. But not many places give away an Aston Martin and a V-Rod. Also a Porsche and a Lamborghini. Nice. Then I had a nice leisurely breakfast, Irish at the airport’s Irish Pub. Not very healthy, but when I get back to work, it’ll be back to 2 a days. Then it was onto Kabul. I would suggest Safi to Kam-Air any time. Landed, got through passport control and back to the base no problem. Just a feeling, but at the airport and during ride through Kabul there was a weird vibe, like a collective breath being held. Waiting for something. I can only put it towards the elections and the outcome, which are still pending. Be more comfortable when I get my guns back.
It was great being home, well when I say home, the US, because of my cross country tour, twice, numerous times, various parties and little sleep. It was nice and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Maybe staying longer. Tick tock though. Its ticking and if you keep busy it flies, right?





Sunday, August 16, 2009

August Vacation


Sorry I haven’t been on in a while, I’ve been in travel/vacation mode. After spending about a week at the range, located on the Afghan Army base, which by the way, is littered with old Russian Tanks, my journey went something like this….(wavy lines, smoke…fade to flashback).
I got a ride from our security guys last Tuesday morning at about 6:00 am to the airport. Boarded the local aircraft for the two and a half hour ride to Dubai. After clearing customs and immigration I had to decide what to do for the next fourteen hours. If I took the advice of some of my co-workers and took a cab to explore Dubai, I would have to lug two back packs, (carry-on’s) for the day. Plus I would have to stay away until about two hours before the flight. Anyway, I opted to stay and explore the Dubai International Airport. Did some shopping, had a beer or two the Irish Pub, watched a couple movies and took a nap. There’s a Hotel in the Airport that offers rooms by the hour, not what you think, its for weary travelers to freshen up. There’s also a spa that offers amenities which I used. For $16.00 you can use a private room that has a shower and steam room. It was a nice way to freshen up before the transcontinental flight. Around midnight Tuesday, we boarded and settled in. I had gone for the economy plus upgrade and it was worth it. A little more leg room and a little better service. After two meals, 5 movies and a couple naps we arrived in DC at about 6:30am Wednesday. It was nice to be back in the US and I grabbed a USA Today and a Dunkin Donuts Coffee. Ah.. Americana. Got on the next plane for the four and half hour ride to LA. The family was already out there, enjoying the sunshine on the left coast. Forty hours after leaving my room, I arrived in Los Angeles.
So that’s where I am now, relaxing, chillin and not having to worry about my sectors of fire. Big election coming up and I wish the guys back there safety and smooth sailing.








Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Noises under the bed...

Heard a noise under my bed and thought it might be a creature. Now, I had heard that there were some big bugs and weird rodents over here, but I wasn't expecting a little Afghan guy.

Actually, it was one of the workers putting blocks under my bed to raise it up, for more storage options. (Wonder what he thought when he saw the flash).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living in box and a new job












Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, been pretty busy. After my return from Logar I was asked if I wanted a position as an Advisor, which is different from a Mentor in that instead of going out to the PD’s to monitor how they’re doing, you stay at the base and are basically an Instructor at the training facility, think academy. So I said yes. Then I was told I would be taking over as the Logistics/Advisor Officer for the camp. My main job is running the supply issue for the ANP here and showing the Afghan’s how to complete the necessary paperwork when requesting gear for the police. After that parts done for the different cycles, I can jump in on the classes I want to help with, like the range, handcuffing, baton, car stops, ect. I think I’ll like it.
I also got moved to new living quarters. These metal boxes, conex’s, are generally used for storage. Somewhere, someone came up with the idea of making them into rooms. Mine’s on the second level and it’s actually pretty nice. It’s about 8’ x 16’ with a bathroom and AC. All the comforts of home, minus the kids and my beautiful wife.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Leaving Logar












Had to go back to Logar last week to train my replacement. Basically, like camping out for a week. Then caught a flight back to the city, where I’m assigned right now. I go to various Police Departments, meet with the Chief’s, (each PD has its own Chief or General), and go over the basics. I’m working with another New Englander, a guy from Maine, which is rare because northerners are the minority here.
I’ll miss some things about Logar like being away from the flagpole, the clean air, it stinks in the city, and clear nights when you could see millions of stars. Thing is, when you’re on a FOB its you and one other guy and the Military, which I don’t mind. But here, you’re with Cops, and after being one for 20 plus years, it’s comforting.
So, I’ll say so long to Logar, thanks for the memories. Not goodbye, because you never know…

Friday, July 17, 2009



















I'd like to mention the passing of a dude I had the pleasure to meet and work with. As a matter of fact, I probably spent most my time here working with this guy. He didn't have any rank, just a Patrolman, but he was in charge of his Check Point because of his experience, dedication to duty and the respect of his men. Gul Alam was taken by an IED recently and he will be missed. He is the model of what the Afghan National Police should strive for. (in the photo's he is meeting with village elders and handing out humanitarian aid to a local village).


On another note;

Witnessed something interesting and disturbing yesterday. I was waiting in line for the DFAC, (dining facility) to open. In line in front of me was an Indian man and in front of him an Army Staff Sergeant. We were in the wash/waiting area with several other people. It was close, but not over crowded. The Sgt turned towards the Indian gentleman and said “Hey, you’re in my personal space, we don’t do that” The other guy just looked at him. He then said “back the **** up” and pushed him back. Nothing serious, the guy wasn’t hurt, it was more a forced step back. I actually thought he knew the dude. Then the doors opened and we moved in to the chow line. I was a couple people behind the Sgt, and meatballs were one of the items available for lunch. There are three or four Indian guys working behind the counter, one behind each section of choices. He hands over his plate and says loudly, “just meatballs, I only want meatballs”. The meatball guy puts one meatball on his plate and the Sgt flips out, steps back and throws his hands in the air, yelling “ what the ****, can’t you people speak English”. He then walks away to the other side of the tent where they serve sandwiches, muttering about how he can’t understand why the people in this country can’t speak English. This guy’s picture should be in the dictionary next to Ugly American.
Several thoughts on this; I’m not sure what kind of training the military gives its guys to acclimated them to the culture of the countries that they may be occupying, but a lot of places in this region of the world don’t have the same views as Americans do as far as personal space goes. It doesn’t mean that much to them. Maybe the Sgt was an FNG to the Stan, didn’t look like it though. As far as the English thing goes, well, do I really need to say that this dumbass is not in Kansas anymore.
It’s people like this moron that are the reason why the US is having such a hard time accomplishing anything over here. It’s the general attitude of a lot of the military. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it, (it’ll be on the test), we are here to mentor and help in the Afghan’s fight against the Taliban. If this nitwit is treating the people that work on our bases like that, you can imagine how he treats the local villagers.
If the Officers here don’t know how their troops are acting, they need to open their eyes. If they do know, they better wake up and smell the Chai, before it’s too late.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wartime Links






















Yes Virginia, there is golf in Afghanistan. But, as you can see, the green is actually a grayish gravel. It was actually a minefield at one time. Now its a nine hole par three. No water hazards, but look out for the little mounds, never know, they might have missed a couple. Four...boom!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Castles






















So I had the opportunity to visit the Queen's Palace in Kabul, (below left). I guess at one time it was quite the place. This is open for us to go inside, which we did. Really amazing. Opposite this is the King's Palace, which you can see behind me and in the photo, above right. That is closed to the public. Back when the Russians invaded, they destroyed both building and they've never been repaired, too bad.

If you want to see them in their original state, you'll have to go online. Due to copyright infringement, I can't show them here. But check it out, they were extraordinary.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vacation

Well after a much needed vacation, I’m back on Mars.

The leave was everything I hoped it would be. Fantastic job by Pam, as always, of planning and mapping out the upcoming events. After the graduation, ceremony and party weekend, we, me, Pam and the boys, headed north to Canada. My daughter had to finish school and would fly up the next week to meet us.
The first leg was from RI to St. Johns New Brunswick. As a graduation gift, Nick and I went kayaking and then went into the Reversing Falls in St John’s on a jet boat ride. No kidding that boat went underwater numerous times, frigging cold water too. Very cool. Then we did some sightseeing around town.
The hotel had a water slide in the pool and me and the boys did things that should have gotten us kicked out if they had seen us. Footage available on Facebook. Two nights there then it was on to Halifax Nova Scotia. It was a whole city like Thayer St and Newport mixed together.
After Halifax we went to a little town called Shelburne where we rented a house. Couple things, it was supposed to be a beach house, it wasn’t. I mean we live in the Ocean State. Beaches are everywhere. We wanted a house on the beach. This was near a beach which was overgrown all the way to the water. That and it rained the entire time we were there. Thank god the boys had Xbox because the only internet we had was if we drove into town. It was nice being together though. We cut the stay short and headed back in the direction of Halifax.
We went back towards Halifax to await the arrival of Mel and found a hotel with another waterslide and broke more safety codes. Mel flew from Boston to Halifax and met and sat with Charles Barkly, not Knarles, on the flight.
We left there and drove to a place called Moncton. Checked their claim to fame, the Chocolate River, and Hopewell Rocks, then dinner at a little Mexican restaurant where we learned of the passing of the late great MJ.
We finished up the trip with a two night stay in St Andrews at a great place called the Rossmount Inn. After about 1750 miles we got home.
That two weeks was great, had some real quality time with the family. The week at home, including the 4th, went way to fast. It was nice to see old friends and look forward to the next time.