Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Redeployment Continues…

Well, I finally made it to BAF, the next step in my redeployment process.
In many ways I think this long, drawn out, impersonal redeployment process is a good thing. I only have my personal experience to go on, but for me it is a nice transition from the deployed life to real life.

The process was the same when I left Iraq and now as I am leaving Afghanistan; going from my “permanent” lodging at FOB Apache to temporary, or RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration) lodging at Bagram Airfield. So now I’m living in BAF, in a “VIP” tent with 50 other senior officers and NCOs, waiting for a flight to Manas AB where we will wait a few more day for a flight home.

This is a busy time in Afghanistan, with the RIP in full swing and more and more troops coming in to Theater. KAF was overcrowded, BAF is overcrowded and Manas will probably be overcrowded also. But, that is the price of the ticket home, a crowded tent and a few long, boring days. It’s worth the price to get home to my family.

I don’t have any pictures of the redeployment; there’s really not much to take pictures of except crowded tents and sleeping Soldiers. But, I do have some pictures of my last convoy from Qalat to KAF. I was using my friend’s nice camera with the telephoto lens and we passed a few camel trains close to the road.

Enjoy the pictures. I’ll keep you posted on the process of getting home.

Until later.
Phillips, out

Friday, 28 March 2008

Last Day in KAF

Today, Friday, 28 March should be my last full day in KAF. Of course, around here you just never know how the schedule will work out so it pays to remain flexible. Hopefully, I'll fly to BAF tomorrow to begin another stage of the redeployment process.

All "my" Jordanians are gone. They flew home to Jordan last night. Now I am truly out of a job. The new liaison officer for the Jordanian Armed Forces, LtCol Tom Collins, is in place at FOB Apache and doing a great job.

While I am waiting here I was thinking back over the last 18 months, from Camp Atterbury to FOB Apache. I didn't really start taking pictures until I began the trip to Afghanistan, but once I started I've managed to document the last 15 months pretty well. Here are just a few pictures of me from my time here in Afghanistan.

To me the deployment has been about the people I've met and the things we've been able to accomplish together. And as much as I've enjoyed my time here, it is time for me to get home and get reacquainted with my wife, Joyce and my daughters, Beckie and Katie and my son, Jeremy.

Until later.

Phillips, out.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Redeployment Process

Ah, the redeployment process. Hours and hours of boredom punctuated by....hours and hours of boredom! But that is the price of freedom, enduring the redeployment process.

I can't complain, I'm stuck at KAF with a nice room and a wireless internet cafe' close by. For most Soldiers they get stuck in big "Fest" tents, a silly name for a huge circus tent full of hundreds of Soldiers (no kidding and no exaggeration). There is nothing festive about the "Fest" tent!

Soon I will be at BAF, where I can hopefully avoid the fest tent there also.

I'll try to include some pictures of my redeployment process.

Like this one of me, putting the Jordanians on a Chinook for their ride back to KAF, and then home.
Here's a unique picture, not of redeployment but around the ANA camp.
Check out the writing on the door of the truck....
Well, that's it for now. At my age I can only take so much excitement before I need to rest.

Phillips, Out.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Short Update

I apologize for the extended break. I'm back at KAF now, and I have access to real, civilian internet for the first time in months!

I'm getting ready to begin my trip home, which is really more of an odyssey, really. My journey home will look something like this: KAF to BAF to Manas AB to Pope AFB to McChord AFB and finally, home. I'll fill in the details in a future post. As always, I'd like to use my experience to shed some light on the experience of a typical Soldier deployed to OEF or OIF.

I've been on the road a lot recently,
mostly repeating the KAF run I posted
about earlier. And the sights stay the
same, but never get old. Here a few
from my most recent trip.

Now that I'm at KAF I'll
post more often, and as I travel.

Until later.

Phillips, out.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


One of the more enjoyable aspects of my current job is the opportunity to get off the FOB and see the countryside and the people. Personally, I enjoy face-to-face and in-person. However, if that is not possible, the next best way is from the gunner’s hatch of a HMMWV. Just a simple ride from Qalat to Kandahar is full of interesting sights.
Today was typical of the sights along this road. The nomads were on the move, and we passed several caravans of kuchis, the Afghan nomadic tribes. To me it looked like something out of Biblical times; loaded donkeys, walking women and riding children. Following some distance behind were the men and boys, herding the sheep.

Of course, some kuchis commute in the “modern” way, by tractor. Here, everyone gets to ride, except the dog! You can see these tractors everywhere in Afghanistan, often pulling a trailer. Sometimes I wonder just how much they can carry on one tractor. Whatever the maximum limit, they get that and more, I’m convinced.

And continuing upward on the scale of modernity, we find the bus car-carrier. The bus makes stops along the highway, whenever necessary. I have not seen established bus stops, but I’ve seen bus passengers waiting along the highway for a bus to come along. I think the cars on top are just a way to make extra money. I’ve seen many items on top of buses: cars, bags of grain, farm supplies and just about anything you can imagine. I always wonder how they get the cars on top. Is there a ramp somewhere, just the right height for driving a car on to a bus? Do they use a crane or a forklift? And of course, how do they get them off again at the destination?

And I’ve mentioned before the ‘jingle trucks”, the decorated cargo hauling trucks that run throughout Afghanistan. They vary from plain to fancy, but almost every one I’ve seen is decorated to some degree. This first one is one of the fancier ones I’ve seen, and as you can see it is stacked high with something. The afghans decorate everything: trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and wheelbarrows…I’ve even seen “jingle” rifles!

And finally on today’s trip, not even 10 miles from Kandahar, another kuchi camp, complete with camels. Again, I can’t help but think that these nomads must live like they have for generations. I’m sure some things have changed, you can often see a motorcycle or tractor in camp, but some things are probably the same as they have always been.

And to ride around in this country you have to dress for success. SGT Streiff and I were seen off on this convoy by our friends Joe (the tall, bearded man, a contractor from South Africa) and LT Saef, an officer in the Jordanian Army. Whatever you may read in the newspapers, I think we are well equipped and supplied here in Afghanistan. We don’t have everything we want, but I think we have everything we need. Personally, for the scale of what we are trying to do, I think it’s going amazingly well, all things considered.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. I’ll be going home soon, after 15 months in Afghanistan. It has been a great experience, but I am ready to go home, ready for a new adventure. I will blog until my last day here, but after that I don’t know what I will do. I think going home again after being gone for a total of almost 18 months will be another adventure, but more personal, less public.

We’ll see.
Phillips, out.