I just received this report from a friend of mine. Because of security reasons, his name and personal information cannot be released, but he is currently with the 4th Infantry Division in Afghanistan. He gives a real, current look on how our Soldiers are living in Afghanistan as they fight the enemy.
He said, “We are spread over several locations in the river valley and the conditions vary from combat outpost to combat outpost. The unit we replaced built our outpost literally from the ground up about six months ago and the living conditions are not the greatest but getting better. We live in what are called ‘Alaskan’ tents. They are about the size of a GP (general purpose) Medium tent but hard framed with no interior support poles. Most tents sleep 10-12 Soldiers.
We sleep on standard issue military or civilian cots. The tents have wooden floors and the temperature is controlled by units that provide both heating and air-conditioning. These units work pretty well and if you are lucky enough to live where one of these units is located, you are lucky. Unfortunately where we are, about half of the Soldiers live in standard GP Medium tents with cheap AC’s that are bought on the local economy. They are horrible and run out of Freon or coolant very quickly and basically blow warm air most of the time. After running patrols it is miserable trying to find relief from the heat in one of these tents. The outside temperature right now is running about 120 degrees each day and has been over 100 every day we have been here.”
He continued his discussion with, “We have showers, toilets, and sinks with plumbing, so that’s good. Drinking water is all bottled. Shower water is contracted in by the locals and is not safe to drink. We eat UGR meals for breakfast and dinner. They are premade meals that just require the “cook” to drop the packages in boiling water. They taste pretty good and haven’t heard many complaints. We usually eat MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) for lunch.
We have washers and dryers for our clothes; however the water pumps usually fail so we end up washing our clothes by hand and hanging them out to dry. Internet access is very limited but we are trying to get a ‘Package’ at the outpost that contains several computers, a few phones, and a satellite dish with all the hardware and electronics for a small internet café.”
As a final though, he added, “The days are long and hot and the conditions are definitely not ideal. Enemy contact happens often with extreme violence. Our time here is and will continue to be a challenge and will forever change the lives of these young Soldiers.”
And sometimes we think we have it tough! Thank goodness for our brave warriors who are fighting to protect our values and our way of life.
Jerry Hogan is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel who volunteers to write this article. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-394-4033/