It’s me, Captain Jason Carter with another addition of my weekly e-mail about what is going on over here in Afghanistan. We got back early today so we were able to eat steak and lobster. Well, we made it another week here and our mission went great. Kind of exciting at the last but I will get to that later.
First, I want to wish the family of Jonathon Christian my deepest sympathy at this time. He died yesterday, Thursday 23 August 2007 in Huntsville, AL in a motorcycle/car wreck. God Rest Your Soul, Jonathon.
Ok. Tuesday morning we get ready to go and we only have enough personnel for 2 vehicles because 2 men are sick and 1 is still on leave. We try to mount the .50 cal machine gun and it gets stuck in the gun mount. Next, we try to take it out and put in a different caliber machine gun but we cannot get the .50 out so we go with it. We have 2 .50 cals on this convoy. Each truck has one. Next, we try commo and it works but when we get out of the gate, we cannot get it to work at all. Since we have had a lot of trouble this morning, some of the men want to abort the mission but it has to be done so we go with it. A while later, we get the commo to work again so off we go.
On down the road a piece, my gunner yells to the driver ‘GO LEFT!!! GO LEFT!!!’ He tells me that he thinks he saw a pressure plate IED so we cordon the area and an engineer group going up to the same place inspects the area with a bomb robot. I did not find out if it was an IED or not.
We make it to our first stop. The Afghan National Police (ANP) station and talk to them about building a new building for them. They tell us that the governor must sign the paperwork for the building. Also, we take pictures of all personnel there. We are trying to eliminate the ‘padding of numbers’. We take pictures of all the men and get information from them. We are going to do this here, the ABP station in Jajii and at BCP 12 and Spena Shigha. This helps to make sure that someone is not getting paid twice or whatever. We spend the night here and watch Wild Hogs on video. It is so funny! The next morning, we plan to leave at 1500 so, since I am the FOO (Field Ordering Officer) and I have the money bag with all that Afghan money in it, we go across the street to the store we call ‘Conoco’. They do not sell gas but we buy drinks and candy from him, 3 can drinks for $1.00 US. Not too bad either. Last week, we asked him to get us a generator, refrigerator, some 5 gallon buckets and a chair. He gets this for us and I give him like $1200 US for this so we can have electricity at the OP.
I also have to go to Chawney to buy some supplies that we need for Spena Shigha. We buy 40 liters of gasoline, some lanterns from Iran, cord to make an extension cord from, some plastic for windows and nails and a hammer among other things. We are planning on winterizing Spena Shigha so we can live there and keep the cold wind out. Remember it is 9300 feet high so it gets rather cold there at night.
While I am buying things, we hear 2 explosions. I run to my gunner and he tells me where they were coming from. I try to call higher to see what is going on but I can’t reach them. When I get back, I find out what is going on. The second explosion was the UN that found a land mine and blew it up. The first explosion was a sheep that found a land mine too. Poor fella stepped on it and blew up! Sheep steaks for supper tonight! Well, in a country of 60 million land mines, there are 2 less now.
We make it to Spena Shigha and start to work winterizing the building. We put up plastic, sweep our rooms out, make the extension cords, and set up the refrigerator and generator too. We have light for the Afghan Border Police and for us!!! The plastic is secure and it starts to rain and with it, colder temps. Brr… It gets much colder here. (Cold for me is anything less than 60). We get the lamps, our bunks and other things set up for our nights here. We are going to spend 2 nights here. Before I go to bed, I meet with the carpenter that will finish winterizing the place. He gets the lumber and I pay him $91000 in Afghan money for the wood that he gets. Easy way to figure the exchange rate: 50 Afghani = $1 US. Each 1000 Afghani is $20 US. So he gets 91, $20 bills. Quite a lot of money for anyone here where $3/day is a great paying job.
The next day, we head out to BCP 12 right on the PK border. We have to get their pictures too. While I am taking pictures and working at the BCP, some men go to Pakistan and give them pictures that were taken last week. Also, more men trade patches with them. I have 1 but want to get at least one of each of them. After the pictures are all taken, we go back to Spena Shigha. I get lucky and pull guard from 10-12 midnight. I was supposed to be relieved at 11 but I let the guy sleep because I was awake anyways. He gets up to help our medic pull guard from 12 to 1 so I go to bed around midnight. I sleep really well. I stay warm too.
I like going to BCP 12. This is where the donkey is and some of our ‘pet’ dogs that are there. We pay a lot of attention to Sybil and to Swifty. Sybil is the head ‘bitch’ because she chases every other dog off except for the ones that are always there. Swifty is always at your feet. Especially if you have food. One night while I had guard duty, Swifty walked back and forth with me the whole night. They had a lot of ticks and fleas on them but we got them a flea and tick collar and they are not bothering them.
Today, we finished photographing the men at Spena Shigha and head back to Gardez at 10 this morning. We go back to Chawney and meet with the sub-governor and he signs the forms to start building the new police station at BCP 12 and the force protection wall around Spena Shigha.
We drive back to Gardez and when we get a few miles from Gardez and with our FOB in sight, my gunner sees this white station wagon speeding up past jingle trucks and other cars trying to catch us. I see the car in the mirror and he is closing fast. The reason of our concern is because of a possible VBIED (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device). Their tactic is to drive up close to a US convoy and then detonate themselves. I call Major Brooks, my boss and he tells me that if he keeps closing I know what to do. I tell my gunner that if he gets within 50 meters of us to engage (shoot) his engine with the .50 cal machine gun. When my gunner takes aim with the .50 cal, that car comes to a screeching halt. I radio and tell him that the car stops. I no sooner tell him this and I see the car coming up again. Fast. I again call higher and he tells me that I know what to do. I tell my gunner that if he comes within 10 meters to shoot and stop the threat. My gunner has already followed 3 of the 5 S’s of our rules of engagement. Shout, show, shove, shoot a warning shot and finally shoot to kill. Depending on the threat, we can skip some of the S’s. Since we are in Gardez by this time, I tell my gunner to use his judgment and to eliminate the threat and to shoot with his M-4 Carbine if he feels our lives are in danger. The car is approaching fast and since I have given the order to fire, the guy has seconds to live when he sees my gunner aiming his M-4 at him and he comes to another screeching halt. This time, he stops completely. Whew! That guy is lucky to be alive right now. Our mission on a convoy is to protect the convoy and US servicemen.
We get back to our FOB at 1600 and for once we get there while the sun is still up. We unload our gear and I go wash my hands. Man, there must’ve been 5 lbs. of dirt on my hands. Running water. Ah… The vehicles are downloaded and we clean them out and stow our gear.
I go to chow at 1745 and get my yummy meal! Man, it is so good. I take my time and enjoy my first great meal in over a week.
Well, that is about all this time. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Talk to you soon!!!
-Major Jason Carter
Jason lives in Hazel Green, AL with his wife, Linda. He has served for 19 years and had a total of 41 months active duty deployed after 9/11/01. He is a senior buyer in the electronic manufacturing industry and serves his country proudly in the Alabama National Guard. In his spare time he likes to metal detect, not only to stumble upon a few treasures, but to learn about the history of a place as well. “My greatest hope is that we all remember the sacrifices soldiers make to each other and their country.”