A so called MRAP standing just outside Sar Howza on the day we visited the former girls school. I like this one, because it has a somewhat deceptive feel of tranquility to it (Photo: Heimken)
Afghanistan must be one of the most challenged countries in the world, at least the parts we got to see. This is by no means the fault of the general populace, but there are powers hard at work keeping this country down – they’re not just foreigners.
As Staff Sergeant Meredith of Apache Company 2-28 said, there are many men in powerful positions, who are not interested in educating their subjects out of fear they might start to want a piece of the pie.
Finally, the full V.I.P. treatment on our way back through Sharana (Photo: Loesche)
Meanwhile, Axel and I are back in Kabul. We arrived here yesterday at the military part of the airport. We are scheduled to fly on tomorrow in the morning to Dubai. The further we get from our embed, the more we wind down. Now, that we have some time to gather our thoughts, we slowly realise how exhausting this journey really was.
Three weeks were plenty.
We left the COP Sar Howza late on Saturday after we had the encounter with the mullah and mujahedeen Tuti. We were driven to the 172nd’s headquarters by MRAP convoy to Sharana and got there at around 22.00. The brigade’s PAO Major Buccino was waiting for us. He showed us our rooms. I was lucky to get room V.I.P. 2 this time. (About time. Buccino had been promising us the whole V.I.P. treatment since we first got here!).
Bad ideas make for good photos! On the pick up next to the Afghan police gunner (Photo: Heimken)
Our embed with Alpha Company 2-28 in Sar Howza ended with a highlight. On Friday afternoon we found ourselves riding a green Afghan police Ford pickup truck with one of the most respected – and probably feared – mujahedeen of Eastern Afghanistan.
In the early afternoon a convoy of MRAPs left the base in Sar Howza heading down the main road to Orgun. I for the first time was riding in the armoured lorry the soldier’s call a LMTV. It’s more spacious and you have a much better sight out the windows than sitting in an MRAP. The downside is: you have much less protection against IEDs or RPGs.
Our mission was to deliver a metal dam gate to a remote village to the southeast of Sar Howza called Shatowry, not that far from Paktika’s biggest city Orgun. The unit that had been manning the COP Sar Howza before 2-28 took over in July got into a heavy fire fight with insurgents when they attempted to do the same in June.
Welcome to Shangri-La
An elder walks through an orchard in the village of Shatowry, home of mullah Tuti. We actually were given some apples. They were tasty (Photo: Heimken)