KABUL – Well, we made it. I’m outside with a laptop propped on a stack of sandbags at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command’s installation at Kabul International Airport. It’s a dusty, noisy place filled with service members from across the globe, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Portugal and Great Britain.
As you can see from this photo of my ugly mug, the accommodations are minimal. However, for travel-weary journalists, the opportunity to lay our heads down and acclimate ourselves to local time was deeply appreciated. The air-conditioned tent and grungy mattress here are better than some of the places we’ll stay in coming weeks, to be certain.
We’re sharing our digs with about a dozen U.S. soldiers preparing to return home after a year-long deployment with the 10th Mountain Division. They’re in good spirits, and good people. A number of soldiers and Marines stopped by to say hello when they saw me transmitting this blog entry.
As a first-time visitor, Kabul caught me by surprise. The flight aboard SAFI Airlines from Frankfurt was modern and pleasant. The moment we landed in Afghanistan, however, dozens of women aboard our flight draped themselves with the traditional Afghan head covering, and a look out the windows made it clear how different the Kabul airport is from your average metropolitan travel hub.
The flightline itself had dozens of helicopters on it, including many for the United Nations. There also were dozens of military aircraft, many of which appeared to be European.
We eventually made our way to the military side of the airport using a taxi service the U.S. military recommends. We drove about three blocks outside the security buffers from one side of the airport to the other, passing dozens of pedestrians and a wagon pulled by a donkey along the way. The drive was uneventful, a good sign when events like this have unfolded nearby recently.
I just had a pretty good meal from a small Pizza Hut on base, and am preparing for air transportation to Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan. For security reasons, I’ll keep the potential times of those flights undisclosed, but it’s safe to say it’s the best way to Camp Leatherneck, which abuts Bastion and can be reached without leaving the wire there.
Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. All is well.