Lets see how this goes.. //
INFIL : December 2006 (5 year vision thing)
Dave and Ken go to jalabad ISO a rotary club sister city project, between San Diego and Jalalabad. Somehow, on another track – we get “invitational orders” from secdef, and a 3 month cac, which by the way was done in 1 day, the day of departure, never seen govt wheels turn that quick before – ever. The cacs would be helpful to get us a hop into theater. Daves focus appeared to be public health, stability ops, and almost anything else possible. Guy was on fire. We literally would run around town from 0800-1800 every day for the first 9 day trip. And for the first year, we were guests of the Kiwis @ a UN Guest house called the Taj. One year later, Dr. Dave and I pulled in to the Taj one December night with a supply of the Capn, the UN team – Kiwis had left, but there was a retired marine infantry officer named Tim San, that had his own gig and scope of operations that could provide security and oversight for development work in Nangarhar – Over proper cocktails at the Tiki bar, we decided we would take it over and try to keep it alive.
My focus was mid level geekery. Checking the computer
lab, setting up the first WiFi @ taj, and making friends,
building relationships and trust. Specifically, I was
meeting so many wired, high tech kids in interviews we held
for a Rotary sponsored IT Manager position @ Nangarhar
University. That led to the incubation of the Jalalabad Geek
Squad. The first two primary recipients of the Synergy
Scholarship were two guys @ Nangarhar University, SM and
RL. SSF funded them @ $150. mo. for 18 months to help with
School Books costs, and further education in certain
networking technologies. That expanded to setting up GATR
systems, installing a B4D.. Cisco/Motorolla Canopy WiMax
rig, Node/Spoke Network.. assist in logistics to bringing in
an MIT FABLAB via a grant from the National Science
Foundation… and other incredibly fun stuff, in an
incredibly dangerous place.
POSTED ONAUGUST 22, 2016
POSTED ONMAY 20, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 5 – The Mound
Next to the Taj Plex, there is a man made mound, that probably dates back to the days of Buddhism in Jalalabad, that is a watch tower of sorts, overlooking the Kabul River and the surrounding farmlands. This area formerly called Adina Pur (Pushto:آدينه پور) as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang.
POSTED ONMAY 7, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 7 – Scout, Our Kuchi Dog partner
One thing that will boggle
the mind, is Dogs in Afghanistan, Kuchi Dogs are
treated like dirt, they are the most awesome breed
I have ever shared space with. Loyal, great
climbers, natural herders (there were some bloody
fingers of the kids at the Fablab) which was the
first alarm, but also protective, but need the
Alpha human around to be happy. Tho they play an
important role in defending the camp, or village.
Locals totally freak out at how we americans treat
and love our canine friends. During Ramadan (aka
ramazan) , if a dog touches a Muslim during
ramazan, they are desecrated. Totally freak out.
My heart literally broke when we lost scout due to
mysterious circumstances, Scout was my room mate @
Taj, and my friend, but I was NOT Alpha. I will
also add, having a “pet” dog that you love, in a
war zone, is a very bad idea if you are not 100%
on station with your dog. Nuff Said. But for me, I
slept much better at night knowing that Scout was
Even so, I had a pack of Wild Dogs that I would feed every night off the babadeck, and they were comfortable to occasionally sleep there. A couple wanted SO BAD just to be petted, and loved, taken in, but I knew I couldn’t do that. Best security in the world is the Alert you get from the pack. One year a newbie guard was chasing them off, I went out and told them to stand the fuck down. This pack works with you. You need to appreciate that. Lost in translation. TIA. POSTED ONMAY 7, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 9 – Who Killed Mehrab
In August 2012, the Taj House manager was gunned down near his home in Jalalabad. Afghanistan is a very complicated place, a very dynamic environment. We may never know who did this great dis-service to the people of Afghanistan. Mehrab was a hero seeking peace after 30 years of war. POSTED ONMAY 7, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 6 – Beer Price Indicator of Threat Level
In the early days, we had connections, folks that could roll to Kabul for a night run, main road, or via the ladaban pass depending on the check points, and hit up the suppliers for cases of beer for 30-40. $$ – Then in 2009 – the clamp down happened, our hauls were being shut down by the NDS check points out of Kabul – so we had to go native on beer ops. That basically means, you deal with the beer mafia. So we Did.
Started out around 120. case (4x the normal price) then ramped up to over $200 case as things heated up. Didn’t matter what the price, just that there was availability, gave us hope, a sense of normality in a strange place.
POSTED ONMAY 6, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 4 – Self Dependence for Transport
One of the Many things the I learned from babaTIM was – if you cant roll on your own, then you cant roll. I became addicted to driving around this wild west town of Jbad, and even did the run from Kabul a couple times. POSTED ONMAY 5, 2016
Reachback – Chapter 8 – CIG INT
This will all come around after a few chapters, but want to start with — //
2006. Sitting in the smoking area, of LSA Kuwait, just outside the cyber cafe, next to the coffee joint ~ enjoying a menthol, striking up conversations with total strangers, that had one thing in common, we like to smoke. There are so many situations, drills and real time actions, that taking a smoke break gives the best intel in the world. Black Hat, HOPE, Burning Man, or the Fish Market by the Dam in Duranta.. Brilliant endorphin seeking minds take a smoke break, and we talk to each other – true CIG INT.
Back to LSA, One young grunt exclaims, “man, its so strange being inside the wire ~ we got pizza hut, green beans and civilians hanging out with us, what do you do?”
I am on a 5 year mission to live outside the wire. Find a home, Bring in some phat internet, build a WiMax mesh net for the hospital and schools, put in a few wells, then go home. First trip in, don’t have a funding line, but we are trying to talk our way onto a C17 hop to Bagram, just gotta find some damned body armor. Mission accomplished, From there, we plan to hitch hike to Kabul and find a ride to Jalalabad. And that is exactly what we did.
My geek background is Electronic Warfare and Signal Intelligence with the Navy. That was many years ago, so now I am a Free Ranger – looking to do Reachback and DO Good, … in the words of Dr. Dr. Dave – Save The Willing First !
In the mid 90’s I met a guy named Dave Warner, he was a med student at loma linda ~ he had big visions, and I was very interested in taking part in his visions to better the world. 10 years later, we would be sitting in the Pat Tillman USO on Bagram air field in Afghanistan,
trying to figure out how to get OFF the base.
We were allowed transport into BAF, but that was the end of the line without a funding line – so I took a smoke break with the Afghan that ran the coffee hut.. told him we are two doctors that need to get to the Care Hospital in Kabul stat. He offered us a ride. Sweet.
Five days later, I am in my first Jirga – with local elders to see if they will allow the Rotary School and Computer Lab in Chapahara. UBL’s old stomping grounds. I had to request local clothes because the high speed black on black ssf outfit was very hot that December Day.
POSTED ONMAY 6, 2012
Reachback – Chapter 1 – Relationships and the Social Network
and Im not talking about facebook. The first thing any volunteer citizen supporting stability operations should do is learn the Pah’tan (Pashtun) Honor Code, Pashtun Wali.
Building relationships is very important in Afghanistan if you plan to get out to the villages and help folks. Our main focus was the Public Hospital and Public University, but eventually we learned the Villages are where we could win some hearts and minds. Search for: