30 Days Through Afghanistan

30 Days Through Afghanistan

Description

Features stories about life on the front lines in Afghanistan, created by the military men and women who serve. Provided by ISAF Joint Command.

Link: www.dvidshub.net

Episodes

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 34

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

FOB Shank | Day 34 -- There's a very important portion of the Afghanistan story that I feel we haven't told successfully. It's the story of the troops living in holes next to the Afghan National Security Forces while fighting to secure this country.I look back on 30 Days, and the only time we spent with them was at Strong Point Khyber. It was a great day, a great story with great people helping us to tell it, but I feel like we should have done more. Yes, I feel mass media sensationalizes the amount of fighting going on. Yes, I do feel the global view of Afghanistan is skewed towards this place being 100 percent hell hole when it isn't. But there is a lot of fighting going on here and Ken and I did everything we could to get out there to cover the story. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 35

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

FOB Shank | Day 35 -- This is it, the final blog and the end to the greatest military experience of my life. Looking back I hope this project has not only opened civilian eyes to what life is like in Afghanistan, but opened military eyes as to the power of social media.In many ways this project has been a massive success. I still have all of the rank I carried before this project started and none of my words have been censored in anyway. I had the complete freedom to write anything I wanted to as long as it didn't violate operational security and was honest and truthful. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 33

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

FOB Shank | Day 33 -- When times are slow, and missions fall through, I always have our 30 Day visitors to fall back on. In many ways I prefer taking your questions and directly answering them because I know that's exactly what you all want to hear and learn about versus what I'm seeing and bringing to you. I love that aspect of this project.So our plans have fallen through today leaving me with another opportunity to address your questions and ideas I remember one person asking on the forums about how everyday people can help Afghanistan. I had addressed this is a previous blog, but I want to touch on the subject again because I learned one 30 Days participant is really helping, more on him later. ISAF isn't the only organization in Afghanistan. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 32

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

Padkhvab-e Shanah | Day 32 — It was a little strange being out in the province again after we’ve spent so much time in the major cities of Afghanistan. It was actually quite nice. I’m more of a country guy versus a city guy.We headed out with soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team on a mission with a special Agricultural Development Team. It may not sound like a massive forward operation to clear the Taliban from their most well defended havens, but we learned agricultural development missions can be just as important. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 31

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

FOB Shank | Day 31 — We’re in overtime! Due to the travel delays, we weren’t able to get to all of the regions in 30 days, so we’ve extended our trip until Sunday. We are now in Regional Command East, the "bread basket" of Afghanistan, or so I have been told. The goal now is to cover eastern Afghanistan. Throughout the trip we’ve been heavily concentrating on all of the international forces in Afghanistan. Looking back, I wish we could have covered more. There are 44 contributing nations here, and it’s really easy to write the number but it’s really hard to show what that number really means. Some countries are contributing thousands of troops while others are contributing a few. Other countries, like Japan, have contributed more than $5 Billion dollars to various projects in this country. We could spend years talking about all of this, but we’re restricted to 30 days because Ken and I are really looking forward to going back to our families. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 30

Apr 7, 2010

Description:

Bagram Air Field | Day 30 — In honor of our project saviors I’m dedicating, what was supposed to be my last blog, to the aircrew of the U.S. Air Force C-130 who picked us up today. I didn’t have a business card handy when I was on the aircraft, so they may never even see this, but they are awesome.Everything started off peachy keen as Ken and I got all packed up and ready to fly out to Kabul. We check in, throw our baggage in the appropriate area and wait patiently in the terminal for some time. Then tragedy struck, the air terminal man pointed at me and said "Gallahan, you not going." Major Sabula was there with us and immediately asked about Ken and the man said "Raimondi, you not going." Then he walked away.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 29

Mar 10, 2010

Description:

PRT Herat | Day 29 - Afghanistan is such a huge topic across the world, it's easy to forget the individual stories here. So many people are grouped together and called Romanians, Croatians, Dutch or Americans, I tend to forget sometimes there are individual people here with their own individual stories and beliefs. Nazifa's story was particularly touching. To me, these stories highlight not only the caring nature of humanity, but the caring nature of nations. Visa processes are very difficult, I know because I'm trying to navigate the maze right now with my wife. So for a nation like Italy to allow Nazifa in for the medical treatment symbolizes something greater, something I believe hearkens to the soul of nations. Somehow during my thoughts, I remembered talking with the Lithuanians at PRT Chagcharan. They told me how they asked their country to knit 500 caps for them to hand out to Afghan children during the winter. They were very proud to say their country not only knit 500, but knit 5,000 caps. I remembered how proud they were to serve in Afghanistan and help bring peace to a country with a population eight times larger than their own.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 26

Mar 9, 2010

Description:

PRT Herat | Day 26 — Thank you Chris. Your comment and questions to my "Hallelujah in Herat" blog led me on a very interesting journey. To catch everyone up, he basically asked "Why is Herat so nice," and I went out and found some answers. When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about writing about provincial reconstruction teams and what the Italians are doing here. Then I read his comments and decided to do a little Herat investigation. When I heared the answers, my ideas for a blog changed. We went into the city and saw some construction projects and when we got back we ran to get some coffee. I walked into the shop and the shopkeeper is a 23-year-old Afghan from Herat. He speaks English well enough that I asked him Chris’s questions. He told me Herat is so nice because half the people left when the Taliban took over. They moved to Iran and learned how nice life could be and when they returned, brought those dreams with them. He told me one million people used to live here before the Taliban, 500,000 left, and since the Taliban have been run out of town, the population has exploded to more than two million. I did a little fact checking with this, and the population may be quite a bit lower than his number.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 27

Mar 9, 2010

Description:

PRT Herat | Day 27 — We’re back! We had some problems with internet, which prevented us from uploading on time. I’m really hoping Day 26 doesn’t get lost in the stack, because I’m hoping it spurs some interesting conversation. I can’t stop thinking about the "Lion of Herat" everywhere I go. So today, Ken and I jumped in an Italian provincial reconstruction team convoy and watched as they distributed food and medical supplies to a local Kuchi tribe. The Kuchi tribe is a nomadic tribe so we anticipated a great drive out to the middle of nowhere where we would see vast fields of tents and Sheppard’s. We were wrong and we learned something new. The nomadic Kuchi tribe also has some permanent homes about 15 minutes from here. They live there for a little while before migrating onto other areas. The only problem with today was the complete lack of an interpreter. It’s a pretty strange experience to be embedded with Italians, where only a handful speaks English, while visiting Afghans who don’t speak any English. We walked around with a desire to talk to any of them, but we were unsuccessful. It was still better than Kabul!

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 28

Mar 9, 2010

Description:

PRT Herat | Day 28 — I love my father and the embroiled conversations that erupt between us sometimes. I cherish the moments where we disagree and we go back and forth on various facts and ideals. I haven’t always listened to him, but over the years I’ve learned that we may not always agree, but his opinions are always based on some founding principle. Since being out in the field with Ken, I haven’t had many opportunities to talk with my father. The time we did get to chat he told me how he had to disconnect himself from this project because he felt as though he was getting too involved. I assured him I wanted him to participate as much as possible in this project, but to also learn from what we are learning out here and not to get stuck in the mud. I’ll admit, the one trait that flows through all Gallahans, is being stubborn. We’ve mastered it.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 25

Mar 6, 2010

Description:

PRT Herat | Day 25 — The weather here astounds me. Tuesday it was beautiful blue skies and the helicopter left us standing on the helipad. Wednesday it was dark grey skies and pelting down rain preventing any helicopters from reaching us. This morning, we awoke to beautiful blue skies again and we finally made it out of Kabul. We originally planned to be in eastern Afghanistan today, but we traveled west so we could get moving. We’ve decided to extend our 30 Days Through mission for approximately five days, to give us a chance to cover everything we need to. The story is more important than the timetable. We jumped aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130, which made a quick pit stop at Kandahar Air Field. When we found out we were going back to drop some soldiers off, Ken and I just looked at each other and prayed the plane wouldn’t break. We made it to Herat this afternoon and were greeted by our Italian hosts.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 24

Mar 5, 2010

Description:

Kabul | Day 24 — Societies are riddled with bad people; it just so happens Afghanistan has a lot more of them. We were discussing who the bad people were and how they were harming society here. Since my memory is horrible, resulting in my absolute reliance on my notebook, I decided to look into who the bad people in Afghanistan are. Since weather prevented our flight this morning, I had plenty of time to talk with an officer from the ISAF Joint Command Information Dominance Center, which is basically ISAF’s memory. I was struggling to find a simple phrase to describe "bad guys" since it’s too generic and Taliban and Al Qaeda are too specific. Then, when we were up north, one of the soldiers called them anti-Afghan fighters. Afghanistan

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 23

Mar 4, 2010

Description:

There is a magical place full of wonders and excitement filled with international soldiers and rich cultures… it’s known as eastern Afghanistan and I really hope to take you there someday. I’ve been there before, and in all honesty, it’s the one regional command I’m most excited about. I’ve already spent about a month in the east bouncing between various FOBs and covering stories and to me it seems like a place on the brink of security.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 13

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

This morning I got up bright and early, jumped in an armored vehicle, and headed down the street with my new Canadian friends to explore the world of Afghan governance. We entered the district center and it was the biggest one I have ever seen. I’m used to the district centers housing a few buildings behind some barbed wire. This one was huge! It was more of a secure compound with majestic mountains erupting from the earth behind it. The terrain in this country constantly astounds me.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 7

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

When I face a challenge, I have no choice but to stand up, face it, acknowledge it and talk about it. There’s no denying the fact there is a lot of politics surrounding Afghanistan. At the ground level, we are not a political entity; we are simply military service members from a bunch of different countries. With that said, it would be extremely easy to take our views and opinions and then attribute them, inappropriately, to the political will of an entire country. I hope, over the course of these 30 Days, people across the world will understand that I and the people I’m talking to, have no desire to influence political opinions. I simply want to share the lives and perspective of the everyday service member.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 18

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

It felt like we were on a safari today and Afghanistan is gorgeous. We rode with the Germans to a place named Tanji Marmor. A German commander went there to talk with the Afghan National Police chief about a bridge that was built there. Ken and I have been looking over at the mountains for days, and dreaming about visiting the place where the two mountains meet. There’s a small stream that runs between the two of them creating a footpath that is guarded by the ANP.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 17

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

It was a little bit of a quiet day today, since Ken and I headed back to the airport. Yes, I admit it, I called Camp Marmal, Mazer-e Sharif in my Day 15 blog. I could have just changed it, but that would be cheating. Mazer-e Sharif is about a 15 minute drive from here. Since we weren’t out on any missions today, I thought it would be a good time to talk about development in northern Afghanistan. This story really starts when Ken and I were in Western Afghanistan in January. We were on a mission through these big mountains and we were talking about natural resources in this country.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 19

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

I worry sometimes that the world looks and sees only four nations involved in operations here, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Afghanistan itself. This is one of the major reasons that Ken and I started this trip. The one thing we have learned so far is that there are so many other countries contributing as well. No, the other countries aren’t contributing 75,000 troops towards security, but they are contributing as much as they can. Many of these little countries, like Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Croatia, and Georgia have a population of less than five million, yet they still find a way to support missions like the Balkans, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 4

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

I’m all about eyeballs. There’s something truly beautiful about them. If you give me a good eyeball, I’ll stare at it for hours like it’s a sneak peek at the next big movie.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 1

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

Camp Julien is no more than a bunch of little buildings set row upon row. There are no stores, and the dining facility is only open when there are students here, and even when that’s the case, the hot food is delivered from a nearby camp.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 15

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

Today was our second travel day, which basically means Ken and I were stuck in air terminals all day. It did give us a chance to catch up on the Olympics though. Traveling Afghanistan is extremely difficult. I think the only thing more difficult is finding an internet connection. One of the militaries sayings is hurry up and wait. This morning, Ken and I were in a mad dash to the terminal because we thought we were going to be late for the flight. We get to the terminal and sit for a few hours because the plane was late.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 6

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

Fobbit or poge, either way is a term for those who never leave the wire. There are a great many here in Kandahar. It’s actually quite painful for me to write those terms, because I know how many are grimacing right now reading them. The fact of the matter is it’s a part of military life and there are thousands of service members across this country who never get to experience half of what Ken and I have experienced in the last six days.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 8

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

Right now, I’m listening to my Top 100 Billboard Hits of 2008 playlist while typing and occasionally looking around at all of the smiling faces surrounding me. People are relaxed and enjoying some downtime. But I can’t, it just doesn’t seem fair. I can’t get the experience of meeting Lance Corporal Edward Swingle, a U.S. Marine wounded in action, out of my head. I don’t want to. It’s a rather strange conundrum of emotions I’m feeling right now because I really love music, so while my foot wants to tap a bit, I feel really ashamed at the same time thinking of this young man and his family and how worried they all must be for him.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 10

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

We finally made it out of Kandahar yesterday and took a 20-minute Canadian Chinook flight here to Camp Hasum Ghar. This camp is nestled into the side of a mountain in the middle of the desert. I can tell security here is a lot different than in Kabul. This is a black out camp, meaning no lights are used at night. You can only use red lights to walk around because it’s too risky to use white light. Ken and I are starting to get closer to the bad guys, and you can really feel the difference. Good bye civilian clothes, it’s now time to armor up.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 14

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

It was another travel day for Ken and I and as we were flying over southern Afghanistan in a Canadian Chinook, I realized that now would be a good time to talk about my bosses. I’ve been intimately familiar with close air support for years now. I’ve been a public affairs journalist during three of my deployments and each time something would happen where I would have to learn a little bit more about it. Still, I’m not a pilot and I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 22

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

We’re still in Kabul, fighting to escape, calling all sources and pulling all strings to try and get out to the next regional command. Today we watched a bunch of helicopters come and go and we waved bye-bye as they left. The mission continues though! We’ll be out there again! We never give up. If you missed yesterday’s blog, we talked with the black hat man in the air terminal in northern Afghanistan. He is a U.S. State Department employee who couldn’t talk with us because it takes forever to gain the approvals to do so.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 11

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

We’re in Taliban country. It took us eleven days, but we can now say we’re less than 150 yards from where the Taliban have heavy influence.I always assumed the closer you got to them, the more "war like" the environment would become. I imagined strong points like this to be under regular, heavy attack. Without giving away any specifics, the Canadians live in a fort. It has huge walls and barbed wire and enough firepower to keep the Taliban at bay. They live and work with their Afghan National Army brothers and patrol with them daily.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 21

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

We keep running into these extremely interesting civilians who can never talk to us officially, but teach us so much about counter insurgency and what’s happening in Afghanistan. It sucks for Ken because video cameras scare them away but I can get in there and really get some good information. Today’s secret man was in his late 40’s, wore a black 8-point hat, dressed professionally and was sitting quietly before I went outside to catch some fresh air. When I came back in, poor Ken was embroiled in conversation with him. I say poor because I could see how badly he wanted to capture it on film, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 12

Mar 3, 2010

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I would love to say I found the IED today, but I’ll have to wait until I’m an 80-year-old grandpa. For now I have to tell the truth, the Afghan National Army Soldiers we were with found it. It wasn’t much of a surprise, the Canadian Soldiers who are partnered with them told us last night the ANA find nine out of ten of them. It’s because they’ve been doing it for more than six years and they know these roads and the Taliban.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 20

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

Stuck again! We tried to catch a flight out of northern Afghanistan this morning and it was cancelled. The Germans who are helping us did everything they could but we couldn’t get out. It’s life here and the real challenge is overcoming issues like this. The great news is this gives me an opportunity to catch up on some of the great questions we’ve received via the comments. Before I jump into them, I want to thank everyone so much for commenting! Going through and reading them is the highlight of Ken and my day. There are a lot of reasons we wanted to do this and one of the biggest is the direct interaction with all of you.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 2

Mar 3, 2010

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Today I found answers and I can’t wait to share them with you. Ken and I had an incredible opportunity to talk, one-on-one, with U.S. Army Colonel John F. Agoglia the director of the counter insurgency training center here.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 9

Mar 3, 2010

Description:

A Marine, I highly respect, told me before 30 Days started, a massive operation in the South would limit our project and in some regards overshadow it. I told her our project wouldn’t be affected because we weren’t trying to tell the operation’s story, but sideline next to it and share the stories behind the headlines. I never took into account the massive amount of resources an operation can take up.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 3

Mar 3, 2010

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My family probably thinks I’m crazy for what Ken and I did yesterday. We walked through the streets of a Kabul suburb in civilian clothes and no body armor.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 16

Mar 3, 2010

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We’ve had such an interesting day with the Swedish and Finnish provincial reconstruction team, I’m not even sure where to begin. We were picked up by the team at 9 a.m. today and were taken to Camp Northern Lights, which is within the city of Mazer-e Sharif. From the first moment we left the gate, I could tell there was something totally different here. There was construction.

30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 5

Mar 3, 2010

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The best thing about flying somewhere is sitting in the terminal. I’m not a very shy person and I have the ability to walk up to complete strangers and start talking to them. While I do enjoy being a hermit, when I’m in a terminal, all I see are stories surrounding me and all I have to do is find them. Today, I had such an opportunity when Ken and I were sitting in the terminal at the Kabul International Airport. We were catching a flight to Kandahar. The terminal at Kabul is actually very nice, they even have a little coffee shop were I can load myself up on the most powerfull energy drink.

30 Days Through Afghanistan Promo

Feb 2, 2010

Description:

Promo about a show that depicts the lives of the work of the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.