Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Land Crusiers and other cool vehicles I’ve seen while in Afghanistan

I’d thought I’d share some pictures of the many Land Cruisers and Land Rovers I’ve spotted while in Afghanistan. The trucks with all the antennas on the roof have ECM – Electronic Countermeasures. The Arctic Truck belonged to the Lithuanian Special Forces. It was fully armoured. Please feel free to ask any questions on the comment page. Mike
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Herat Jihad Museum 8.24.2014

Having been in Herat for several months and with the end of my tour on the horizon, I knew I wanted to visit the Jihad Museum. I had previously invited my friend Colonel Mohammed of the Counter Narcotics Police Afghanistan (CNP-A) to my camp for lunch and introduce him to the Narcotics Interdiction Unit Commander.
After lunch, we went into town to visit the Citadel (already posted on this blog). From there, we went to the Jihad Museum. Once again off we went with me as the only infidel, yet I felt completely comfortable with the Afghans. Looking Afghan helped but my M4 gave me away, not to mention the large security detail for the Colonel and the detail for the NIU commander and me.
When we arrived at the museum it was closed. Having a powerful Colonel helped to open the doors and get a private guided tour for us. I know the Afghans in our group were as excited to visit the museum as I was. They had never seen it before, even the guys from Herat. A former Mujahedeen fighter served as our tour guide. He explained the many battles with the Soviets as well as the weapons displays.
Fascinating parts of the museum were the dioramas. As the local population is mostly illiterate, written descriptions would be useless. So the museum utilizes many different lifelike dioramas depicting major battles to relate the history. Our Guide explained the battles to us in great detail. This museum is certainly a world class war museum. (Links below)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/world/asia/afghan-museum-recalls-a-previous-war.html?_r=0
http://www.stripes.com/news/exhibits-defused-afghanistan-s-jihad-museum-reopens-its-doors-1.250337
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/03/the-jihad-museum-afghanistan-remembers-the-soviet-invasion/100693/
A bonus highlight of the visit was meeting the infamous Bakhretdin Khakimov, now known as Sheik Abdullah. Khakimov first came to Afghanistan as a Soviet intelligence officer and his mission was to kill the mujahedeen. He was wounded in battle, went missing, and ultimately was nursed back to health by an Afghan family. After recovering, he decided to remain in Afghanistan and converted to Islam. Abdullah now works at the museum. (See links below.)
http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130305/179834151/Soviet-Soldier-Missing-for-33-Years-Found-in-Afghanistan.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2288544/Russian-soldier-missing-Afghanistan-33-years-FOUND-living-nomadic-sheikh-remote-Afghan-province.html
http://www.stripes.com/news/thrust-into-afghanistan-by-war-ex-soviet-becomes-a-keeper-of-its-history-1.250308

 

 

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NIU CMD,COL. Faruk, COL Mohammad with me on the first floor of the museum.

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With my two translators. They are brothers and really great guys who helped keep me safe.

With my two translators. They are brothers and really great guys who helped keep me safe.

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A former Mujahedeen fighter served as our tour guide.

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The NIU Commander with me.

The NIU Commander with me.

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Bakhretdin Khakimov, now known as Sheik  Abdullah with me.

Bakhretdin Khakimov, now known as Sheik Abdullah with me.

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This Mujahedeen fighter served as our tour guide

This Mujahedeen fighter served as our tour guide

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The NIU CMD and me. We had to wear booties over our boots to protect the marble floor.

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Captured Soviet PPSh submachine guns.

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Captured Soviet weapons.

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Old British weapons. SMLE Enfield rifles are still found on the battlefield.

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Rolling Block rifles used the fight against Communism.

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Other rifles used by the Mujahedeen against the much better armed Soviets.

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The Herat Citadel

I like to take in the historic sights wherever I go and I won’t let a little terrorism stop me. In talking with the Counternarcotics Colonel, he insisted we go and see some of the most notable sights. Having a six man PSD ,of course, helped with the security situation. The caretaker was kind and took us on a guided tour of the castle.  This was also an excellent trip for the Police  to see a piece of their history that they would not have normally been able to experience. 

The Citadel of Herat, also known as the Citadel of Alexander dates back to 330 BC, when Alexander the Great and his army arrived to what is now Afghanistan. The Citadel was restored between 2006-2011 Herat is on the UNESCO World Heritage site list.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1927/

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/17/world/la-fg-afghanistan-citadel-20111117

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050554/Crumbling-ancient-citadel-Afghanistan-restored-glory.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herat_Citadel

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Herat Afghanistan 2014

I have been in Herat Afghanistan since April; working as a Mentor/Advisor to the Afghan Counter Narcotics Police (CNP-A) special unit, the National Interdiction Unit (NIU).

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/chasing-the-dragon-afghanistan%E2%80%99s-national-interdiction-unit

http://www.examiner.com/article/afghan-national-interdiction-unit-takes-the-lead-counternarcotics-operation

Herat Province is located in far West Afghanistan and is bordered by Iran and Turkmenistan. Most of the influence here is from Iran and there is much commercial and illicit trade with Iran.

Afghanistan exports Heroin and Opium to Iran and Iran returns the favor by exporting
Methamphetamines.

Afghanistan imports 90% off its needs except agricultural products. Imported are oil products, electricity, cement, construction material, carpets, home appliances, and detergents. Exports to Iran are nuts, carpets, agricultural products as well as handicrafts.

Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan has a rich history and was once known for its wine and silk. The city is busy with construction and commerce. Traffic is hectic with hundreds of three wheeled Tuk-Tuks carrying incredible loads of cargo and passengers. There is an International Airport that services domestic flights as well as flight to Iran and Indian.

 Most women are completely covered in burkas. There a very few who show their faces but are covered head down. One can only imagine how confining being a in burla can be. The burka is covering a fully dressed woman (No cute bra and panty sets under there) so the heat must be oppressive. Pedestrian accidents are very common as a burka clad woman cannot see very well in front but have no peripheral vision. All sounds are diminished as well. How to eat and drink?

Some arigcultural projects to help Herat with jobs and commerce.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2710880/Free-Taliban-women-Afghanistan-saving-silk-weaving-tradition-thrived-centuries-oppression-religious-zealots.html
http://www.wadsam.com/sericulture-reviving-in-western-afghanistan-232/
http://www.wadsam.com/afghan-women-engaged-in-saffron-business-78678/

The majority of the people are Tajik so support for the Taliban is not very popular.  That being said the Taliban threat is very real and increasing daily. Recently two female Finnish aid workers were gunned down while in a taxi. NGO are easy targets due to their naive beliefs and lack of basic security procedures.

Herat was recently in the news when the five Taliban commanders were returned to the battlefield. Khairullah Khairkhwa was the Taliban Governor of Herat Province as well as a major drug trafficker.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/la-times-whitewashes-taliban-five_794480.html
https://wikileaks.org/gitmo/pdf/af/us9af-000579dp.pdf
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/05/sgt_bowe_bergdahl_ex.php?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sgt-bowe-bergdahl-exchanged-for-top-5-taliban-commanders-at-gitmo

Herat also has the dubious distinction of having the highest drug addition rate in Afghanistan. One in five households has a drug user compared to one in ten for the rest of the country.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/asia/that-other-big-afghan-crisis-the-growing-army-of-addicts.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/04/30/306590068/an-afghan-village-of-drug-addicts-from-ages-10-to-60

http://www.stripes.com/news/options-limited-for-broke-addled-and-hopeless-on-afghanistan-s-heroin-highway-1.249837

Unfortunately the security situation does not allow for getting out and walking around. So my pictures are from the safety of my armored Land Cruiser. I did get out taking some pictures of the 15 century minarets. The minarets, an UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate is all that remains from a large mosque, madrassa and mausoleum complex.
http://wikitravel.org/en/Herat

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/afghanistan/herat-and-northwestern-afghanistan/herat/sights/architecture/musalla-complex-minarets

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/afghanistan/herat-and-northwestern-afghanistan/herat/sights

href=”https://badlandsexpeditions.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/dscn0436.jpg”>DSCN0436 Ice Cream vendor[/caption]

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Grave on the side of Highway One. Apparently an UKN person was killed by a vehicle. People then entombed the body with rocks. The first few days after the accident you could see the fluids draining from the body staining the earth.

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Trip to Kabul Part two 6.29.14

After my appointment with the dentist we drove to our camp about a 15-20 minute drive depending on traffic.

There are several pictures of burka clad women begging. In Afghanistan, as in most of the Muslim world, women are nothing but property with little or no value. Many of these women are widows and have no outside support system to help them.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and I welcome your comments. Kabul trip 6.29.14 023 (1)

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new apartment buildings

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woman begging

woman begging

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woman begging on the road to ISAF base

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girls walking home from school

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girls walking home form school

girls walking home form school

girls walking home form school

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one of the many new mansions in Kabul

ice cream vendor

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Trip to Kabul Part one 6.29.14

I had to make a quick trip to Kabul and thought I’d better to go to the dentist while there. You would think that being in Herat Afghanistan going to the dentist would be a major problem.
A simple e-mail to the clinic Guardian International (www.guardianmedevac.com) located at Green Village in Kabul and I had an appointment.

I am fortunate to be working under a State Department contract so I am to travel on the State Department Air Wing. With almost daily flights, gone are the days of waiting endlessly for a Military Space “A” flight. An hour and half flight on a Dash-8 aircraft I am in Kabul and get picked up and off to Green Village. During the flight, it is easy to see how vast and rugged the country is. The entire flight was over mountains some still with snow on them. In some of the valleys you can see small settlements completely isolated.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.53313397416167,67.90533238501112

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.21700665305705,63.04381596146811

Green Village is run by a company Stratex (www.stratexfs.com ) and is Western oasis in warn torn Kabul. Green Village is where life support is provided to Western contractors, NGO‘s , UN personnel and EU personnel. The compound is secured by a force of Nepalese Gurkas and former European Military members. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=34.54565587443474,69.23199285572424

In addition to the medical clinics there are a couple of restaurants, coffee/pastry cafe, gym, sauna, shops, WiFI and bar. The atmosphere was akin to that of a college campus. I even saw a couple of woman wearing skirts which is unheard of anywhere else in Afghanistan on or off base.
http://www.stratexfs.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50%3Afeatured-project-green-village&catid=34%3A2008&Itemid=1

The dentist was from Romania she was very nice and efficient she fixed my issue.

The city of Kabul is a city filled with activity; lots of crazy traffic with hordes of white and yellow taxis. Interspersed with this traffic are armored Land Cruisers transporting, NGOs, the wealthy/powerful Afghans, NATO military, UN and me.

The is also a hustle bustle of shops and markets with people going about their business as if there was no brutal civil war of Muslims against Muslims. The Taliban which favors targeting civilians in it’s a struggle to return Afghanistan to the Stone Age.

Here some pictures I took on the way to Green Village from the airport. I hope you enjoy seeing a little bit of Afghanistan outside of the new reports of IEDs.

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Burka Clad woman begging.

Burka Clad woman begging.

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Shopping for meat.

Shopping for meat.

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It is watermelon season here.

It is watermelon season here.

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Fish pet store

Fish pet store

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Kandahar Boardwalk

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