Thursday, 24 June 2010

Everyone Hates BAF

In my total of 18 months in Afghanistan I have learned one universal truth: Everyone Hates BAF.
Why, you may ask, does everyone hate BAF?
I have pondered this question and come up with the following three answers:

One reason people hate BAF is because most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines experience BAF as a transient, and BAF is a terrible place for transients. As a transient you are tired, hungry and unsettled and the facilities at BAF are not well suited to caring for transients. The passenger terminal is small and overcrowded. The USO is small and overcrowded. The dining facilities are far away. If all you see of BAF is the passenger terminal as a transient you will not be impressed.

Another reason most people hate BAF is because BAF is overcrowded. BAF has grown in size since I left in 2008, but it's population has outpaced that growth. Take a walk or drive down Disney Drive and you will know that BAF is overcrowded. Barracks, dining facilities and offices have sprouted like weeds, but they just can't keep up, and that was before the Surge. No one likes living and working on a crowded FOB.

But the main reason people hate BAF is because they think BAF is too far from the action, it's not a place to fight the "real" war. While the first two reasons are undoubtedly true, this last reason is certainly not. For security reasons I can't talk about all the things that are done here at BAF, so I won't talk about any of them, but suffice to say that there are many activities here at BAF that are critical to the war effort. I have found my time here at BAF to be more rewarding than I thought possible. During my first tour in Afghanistan I avoided BAF as much as possible (for the first two reasons above) but during this tour I've seen the variety of important missions based out of BAF. I've met Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who are doing great things. Without BAF, or somewhere like it, nothing else could happen happen.

Do you have your own BAF story? Whatever your opinion, I'd love to hear YOUR story of BAF.

Phillips, out.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Battalion among hardest hit in Afghan war

Hello faithful readers and friends.

This is a great article. And I've heard this statement many time, from many different Soldiers:

"I feel like when we're back, I'm going to want to be over here and I don't know why," Cortese said. "It will be hard to watch the news and not be here."

May God bless our Soldier, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and their families.

Phillips, out.

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Crazy Day at Kabul International Airport

Today was a crazy day at Kabul International Airport.

I flew on a commercial flight departing from Kabul International today on a rare trip out of


We loaded the bus and headed to our plane. As we pulled up to the Safi Airways plane the motorized stairs pulled away from the plane we were heading toward and drove away! The bus followed the stairs, and then the plane was pulled away by a tug. Soon the stairs, the bus and the plane were following each other around the taxiway in a merry parade. Finally, the plane stopped, the stairs pulled up and the bus unloaded the passengers and we filed on to the plane as if nothing had happened. I can't remember ever seeing anything like it at an airport in all my travels.

On the plus side, the Kabul airport functions quite normally (in most respects) and appeared safe as we made our way through security, to our gate and onto our plane.

I did enjoy the views of old, but still functional, Soviet aircraft on the airfield.

Now I am in Amman, Jordan on business. It's my first time in Jordan so I will take lots of pictures and let you know how it goes. Of course, I won't have much time off since I'm here on business, but I will squeeze in some time to relax and tour. :-)

Until my next post,

Phillips, out.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Life on base


Well, 1 May has come and gone and all the local vendor shops are CLOSED!
And Subway, Popeyes, Burger King and Pizza Hut are CLOSED!
At least here on BAF. I don't know what is happening on other FOBs but this mostly affects BAF, Kandahar and Salerno.

The lines at the dining facilities are longer, but Soldiers are probably already saving money and losing fat. Personally, I tried to avoid the fast food places anyway and it has helped me with both; saving money and losing weight. :-)

I was not consulted on this decision (I'm not consulted on any, really) but it seems like a good thing. Less amenities makes more room for more Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to do the work. And we definitely need more room, at least here on BAF!

Thankfully, they did not cut to the bone. We still have the PX, and the internet provider and Green Beans Coffee (a local coffee shop in the deployed areas, I sure wish I had thought of the idea).

Life on this deployment is different for me. I'm dealing with issues at a higher level. I'm more removed from the action but I'm learning a lot and I'm busy every day. But for me, I'd rather be closer to the action. Maybe on my next tour...

Well, my posts are shorter, and not really very deep. But hopefully they shed some light on life in Afghanistan. I really miss home, and my family, but I like being here and being part of this mission.

Thanks for all you do to support the troops. I see it every day, at the USO, at the chapel and in individual units. Keep up the good work!

Phillips, out.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

More Photos

I know everyone likes the pictures, so I post them as soon as I can.

Here is a group photo of the Soldiers in our Medical Brigade Headquarters. We chose this spot for the picture because of the mountains in the background.

And here is a photo of our "Command Group", those of us who work closely with the Brigade Commander and Brigade Command Sergeant Major every day. Notice the American flag in the picture; it was a windy day! The Soldier holding the Brigade Colors almost got blown over a few times. We held a ceremony to award the 62d Medical Brigade "combat patch" to our Soldiers (and Airmen, notice the USAF SSgt in our group) deployed with us on this tour.

Enjoy the pictures. I will post more as I can.

Phillips, out.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Here are some of the pictures I promised! Thanks to my assistant editor, Joyce. :-)
And my consultant, Rejenia.

Here is a picture of the warren of B-Huts near my office. If you look closely down the middle you will see b-huts stretching off into the distance. B-Huts are high class living here, but they are really just crowded plywood shacks.

Here is a view of the mountains in the distance (notice the b-huts in the near foreground). Bagram Airbase sits at approximately 5000 feet above sea level, the mountains in the distance reach to over 20,000 feet above sea level.

Here is another view of b-huts on the way from my hootch to my office. The white building in the distance is an MWR for one of the sub-camps within BAF.

Overall our quality of life here is good. We are overcrowded, hot and dusty but there are many others living without some of the comforts we take for advantage.

Personally, I'm working on being content; with my living conditions, my job, and my current situation. I thankful for what I have and I realize what I can do without.

Until next time, keep praying for out Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in harms way.

Phillips, out.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Dirt Roads and Potholes

It's been raining alot lately here at Bagram Airbase (BAF). I guess the initials are BAF because it was originally Bagram Air Field, but as it grew and grew and grew it became Bagram Airbase.

That's funny, because this post is all about how bad the roads are here at BAF. We've been here 9 years and the roads are terrible! Well, actually the road, singular. There's really only one paved road with a few side streets and branches. Otherwise, we walk or drive on gravel or dirt roads. And when it rains, the gravel roads fill with giant puddles and the dirt roads turn to....mud, of course. Walking to work today (I live one mile from where I work) I was circumnavigating puddles the size of hot tubs and attempting to find the narrow dry path down a muddy road when I remembered a tour I took in Seattle before I deployed. The guide described the early years of Seattle, when the roads were dirt and the houses were were wood and just navigating across the street was an adventure for the average person. Of course, it does rain occasionally in Seattle so those dirt roads must have frequently been a muddy mess. In many ways BAF is like a frontier town in the US 150 years ago. I wonder what a new arrival from New York or Philadelphia or Boston thought about Seattle in 1869? It was probably similar to what most of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines think when they arrive at BAF in the middle of the night after a long journey: "What a dump! What have I gotten myself in to now?".

I still don't have any pictures, but I think I've broken the code on that. Thanks to the advice of a friend I think I will have pictures up on the blog sooner rather than later! Yea! Thanks, Rejenia. :-)

And to Scratch, who asked about the American flags we wear on our uniforms; we wear Reverse American Flags so that when we are marching forward, and viewed from our right side, the flags appears to be waving in the wind. I'm not a general so I can't say who came up with that idea. The US Army is the only service that wears the flag in such a manner, I think. I'm sure it does look nice in a parade, but it looks awkward otherwise.

Well, it's time for bed amid the noise of the flightline just a hundred meters or so from my room. And if it rains tonight I will be back on the obstacle course again tomorrow, threading my way through the rocks and puddles to get to work.

Until later.

Phillips, out.