CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – I wasn’t looking for a soundtrack when arriving at this sprawling forward operating base, but it appears I’ve found one.
Traveling to get security badges here this morning in a van, we were treated to the confident crooning of Right Said Fred and his 1990s classic, “I’m Too Sexy.”
The song was playing on a British-run radio station aboard Camp Bastion, which is part of this base. “Forces Radio,” as the DJ called it, is broadcasted to improve morale and keep people informed. It appears to do both of those things – as long as you like British techno music.
In all seriousness, photographer James Lee and I arrived here from Kabul on a C-130 flight run by the British early this morning. There were mostly British troops and U.S. soldiers on board, although a couple of Marines also tagged along.
After our plane landed, we made our way down its back ramp to a bus, which whisked us to a flight terminal. We were dropped at the same large tent that has been set aside for media for at least two years.
This morning, we started to poke around a bit. It has been two years since I’ve been at Leatherneck, and the changes are immediately apparent.
Main thoroughfares are paved. Gyms, coffee shops and a large PX store have been added. In no way is life here like living in the U.S. suburbs, but this base is no longer spartan, either.
It’s uncertain how long we’ll be here on Leatherneck, but the plan is still to push out of here at some point to meet infantry units in northern Helmand province. In the meantime, stay tuned for all your Right Said Fred classics.