More Pictures

I have some free time waiting for my flight to Manas Airbase in Kyrgyztan so I went through my pictures and picked out a few more to share with you all.

I snapped this on my flight from Manas to Bagram when I first arrived in country. We are flying over the Hindu Kush.

This stuff grows pretty well out here. This was taken in Oruzgan province near Tarin Kowt. This was the only plant in the area. In Kandahar Province, there are orchards with acres of this stuff!

The above picture shows what I recounted in my post titled Afghan Automobile Association.

The authorities wanted to salvage the hull of this downed T-55 tank for scrap but the local villagers protested. They wanted to keep it around as a monument because they were the ones who took the tank down. A turret from another T-55 was less than 100 meters away.

Here I am on my first mission. I helped with administering the deworming meds. On subsequent missions the ANA did most of the wrangling and medicating.

This was my last mission in Oruzgan province before I went home on R&R leave. We were doing a ground breaking for a new bridge to cross the Helmand River in the Deh Rawud district. I am in the center and Kerry Greene, the USAID rep is on my right and Richard “Ruff” Reiter, the State Department FSO, is on my left.

Here I am as the mission commander for a big mega shura that we facilitated in Kandahar City. We flew Dr. Mojadeddi, the national director of Program Takhim-E Sol (the national reconciliation program), to the governor’s compound. The man to my left is one of Dr. Mojadeddi’s aides.

We are getting ready to move out. I am manning one of the air sentry positions in the back of a Bison.

I am standing on top of one of the buildings in the governor’s compound in Kandahar City.

Sergeant, is that MAJ Innis over there conducting an Information Operation? Sir, I believe he is but he must really tone it down a bit.

SSG Raley of the Mobile Public Affairs Detachment is to my right. He pointed out that every time he went on a mission with me he is always miserable. He is smiling in this picture so he can’t possibly be miserable. To my right is Maj “Q” Quentin Innis, my boss at TF Aegis. On the far right is Sgt Lee Baldry.

Hope you like them.

CPT Thomas C. Nield aka “NightHawk”


First Leg

I am posting this entry from Bagram Airfield. I am on my way home.

It felt a little weird leaving Kandahar. The war is still on. Even though Ramadan just started, the Taliban insurgents are still up to mischief. I am still trying to reconcile the fact that I am no longer the J3 Info Ops 3 for TF Aegis. Now I am just one of many GI’s trying to get home

I left behind a good crew to work with. My boss was a blast. He and I share an appreciation for the comedy of Eddy Izzard. We would sometimes interject Izzardisms into our conversations. Some people got it, most didn’t.

I got pretty close with the people I worked with at Task Force Aegis. We shared the same risks and aggravations. We enjoyed each other’s humor. We bitched about the same things. Damn, I will miss everyone dearly, especially “Q” and Lee.

I was asked at a farewell dinner party what is the most vivid memory I have. I said the day I saw a chassis fall from the sky and an armored vehicle drive through a fireball. There are more memories. During breakfast one day we were bitching about ISAF when all of a sudden, the Asst Chief of Operations ripped the ISAF patch off of my boss’s uniform, jumped on it, then picked it up and flung it across the DFAC. The day I was with Grizzly 6 and we were caught in an ambush is another. There are more.

One of these days I will be able to make sense of it all. For now, I am concentrating on getting home. We just completed customs and palletizing of unaccompanied baggage. Tomorrow I have to go to medical and fill out a few forms and clear finance. Saturday we have some briefings. After that, we wait for a flight.

I am kinda bummed right now. I am sure I will be in a better mood the closer I get to home. First leg down, four to go.

CPT NightHawk


Phase 4

I just got back from a mission where we escorted media around. We showed them the areas of the most vicious fighting and a couple of material assistance distributions. Here are a few pictures from the mission.

In this photo we set up a laager (a modern version of circling the wagons) to wait for the contractors delivering the material assistance. The mountain behind me is typical of Afghanistan. They just jut up from the ground.

In the photo to the right the locals from the village of Regay are offloading the trucks. This village is sympathetic to ISAF and the central government. They allowed people that were pushed out by the Taliban to hole up there until the fighting was over.
I was an air sentry on the last Bison. We left Regay and moved to Bazaar-E Panjwayi and I was engulfed in a cloud of moondust for the last few kilometers. I dismounted, removed my helmet and ballistic glasses, and walked over to chat with the guys. They all grabbed their cameras and started snapping away. I guess they thought it was pretty funny seeing a staff officer smothered in moondust!

The next day we did another material assistance distro. This one is in Pashmul where we literally blasted the hell out of the Taliban.

In the rural areas of Afghanistan I have yet to see the face of a woman of child bearing age. These women are waiting for the rest of their family before they move out with their assistance goodies (rice, beans, sugar, tea, cooking oil, clothing, and blankets).

I am fielding questions from Susanne Koelbl, a correspondent from Der Spiegel magazine. She and her photographer, Knut Mueller, have done assignments all over the world. Herr Mueller snapped this photo.

I was pulling security for the patrol where Grizzly 6 was showing the media parts of the battlefield. Herr Mueller was walking along and snapped this one of me.

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Herr Mueller snapped the photo above of us taking up the rear. I am second, behind the Canadian soldier. My Info Ops NCO from the British Army is taking up the rear. In the photo to the left you see ISAF at work. I am standing with a Hungarian, a Romanian, and a Brit. We are providing security for the media by preventing the people from walking down the trail.

The photo above is pretty cool. A patrol was coming back to the laager while we were escorting the media around the area. Herr Mueller snapped this one when the LAV was making its turn in front of me. An Afghan National Army truck follows behind.

These photos depict my involvement with Op Medusa, Phase 4 Reconstruction. I hope you enjoyed them!

CPT NightHawk


Tyranny of Bandwidth

When I commanded a Quartermaster Battalion Headquarters company I was in the land of Logistics. It is true that amateurs talk strategy whereas professionals talk logistics. Without beans, bullets, and hay (Class I food/water, Class V ammunition, and Class III petroleum/oil/lubricants) a modern army is not going to get very far. Nowadays we also have to talk bandwidth constraints (the Tyranny of Bandwidth).

Anonymous asked in a comment to my last post “how easy is it to access internet/phones”. One of the men I deployed with was deployed back in 1991 to Op Desert Storm. Communications back then sucked. The bandwidth was anemic and the telephone company’s were woefully unprepared for the demand. Today it is much different.

When I was at the Tarin Kowt PRT we had it pretty good for communications. We had VoIP phones, three satellite dishes for MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) internet use, plus the official US Dept of Defense phone and internet systems. On one of our missions to a Special Forces FOB (Forward Operating Base) I noticed that they had a similar suite of communications systems that we had at the PRT.

Here on KAF (Kandahar Airfield) I have constant access to the internet (both classified and unclassified) and a DSN (Defense Switched Network) phone because I am a staff officer working at a desk. Using DSN, I can call the switchboard at Missouri National Guard Headquarters in Jefferson City and have them connect me to a local number. For soldiers that do not have constant access to a networked computer or a DSN phone, we have a pool of computers and phones that they can use for personal use. If their home community does not have a DSN phone manned 24 hours a day, they can call a switchboard close to where they live and use a phone card.

I mentioned before that the bandwidth at Tarin Kowt was anemic. It was only anemic for the unclass internet because most of the bandwidth for the Dept of Defense systems were dedicated to classified communications. The MWR systems were heavily used so transfer rates were slow for everything except plain text.

I have the luxury of being able to call home practically every day plus the ability to post frequently to this blog. For the soldiers that are involved in operations outside the wire, they have to wait until they get back to KAF or a FOB to communicate with home. I know of at least two soldiers that have purchased their own satellite phones and call home that way but it is expensive.

We all have it pretty good for communications so we are not concerned with the tyranny of bandwidth.

CPT NightHawk


Op Medusa

Here are some pictures of my involvement with Op Medusa.

Here I am at Patrol Base Wilson. At the moment this picture was snapped, we all heard a boom and wondered "is that ours or theirs?"

In the my post titled “Eventful Week”, I included a hero shot of me and my Info Ops NCO at a material distribution event. The picture above was taken at the same place. I am just watching the Afghans unload the truck.

Today we had our big press event with local and international media at the governors compound. Message was ISAF and the Afghan forces killed lots of Taliban and now we are going to help the people of Panjwayi in rebuilding. I am waiting in the back of the Bison we used to haul all the camera equipment and some media types (the bulk of them were in the other Bison). I pulled air sentry duty again (standing through the top hatch).

I regret not posting pictures before. The bandwidth at the PRT I was previously assigned to was anemic. The bandwidth I have access to here at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) is more robust and I put in some late nights learning how to use the picture feature of Blogger. I hope you like the pictures!

CPT NightHawk


By the Sword

Well, it looks like Pope Benedict XVI is catching a lot of grief for quoting Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire. Back in the 1391, Emperor Manuel II said:

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Here is a quick history lesson for you all. Emperor Manuel II was the father of Constantine XI, the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Manuel II was married to Helena Dragas, a Serbian princess. Serbia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 (to this day the Serbs will argue that their sacrifice saved Western Europe from certain dominion by the Ottoman Empire). Because the subjects of the Byzantine Empire did not wish to abide by the agreement reached in the Council of Florence in 1452, the remnants of the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

I present this brief history lesson to provide some context. The religion of the Ottoman Empire was and is (in modern day Turkey) Islam. The Byzantine Empire was Christian but it was of the Eastern Orthodox variety, a result of its schism from the Roman Catholic faith when the Roman Empire was falling apart. For the Christians of the Byzantine Empire during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, Islam in the form of the Ottoman Empire was something they truly feared. Over the years European Christians clashed with the Ottoman Muslims numerous times. Dr. Hanson highlights two such battles, Lepanto fought in 1571 and Tours-Poitiers fought in 752, in his book Carnage and Culture.

Back to the quote Muslims around the world are having a hissy over. What about the rest of the speech by Pope Benedict XVI? Key excerpts of his speech are on the BBC website. Ponder the following excerpt:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God," he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats….

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

The BBC has listed quotes from Muslims around the world:

This from Salih Kapusuz, the Deputy Leader of Turkey’s Ak Party:

The owner of those unfortunate and arrogant comments, Benedict XVI, has gone down in history, but in the same category as Hitler and Mussolini.

He seems to have a mindset that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world. It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades.

It’s amusing that Salih Kapusuz, an apologist for Islamic Fascism, compares Pope Benedict to two well known fascists, Hitler and Mussolini. It’s interesting that Kapusuz referred to the Reformation and the Enlightenment when the Muslim faith still hasn’t had something comparable.

How about this one from Sheikh Youssel Al-Qardawi, head of the Islamic Scholars Associaton:

Our hands are outstretched and our religion calls for peace, not for war, for love not for hatred, for tolerance, not for fanaticism, for knowing each other and not for disavowing each other.

We condemn this and we want to know the explanation of this and what is intended by this. We call on the pope, the pontiff, to apologise to the Islamic nation because he has insulted its religion and Prophet, its faith and Sharia without any justification."

Instead of condemning an academic speech full of complex theological discourse, Al-Qardawi should spend more time condemning the war that Islamic Fascists have declared on the West. I wonder what specific Islamic nation he is referring to or is he actually referring to the transnational Islamic Fascist community? How about Al-Qardawi apologizes for all the senseless deaths that Islamic Fascists have caused?

The prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has this to say:

The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake.

How will the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church rectify all the property damage and mayhem rioting Islamic Fascists will cause? Offer to take confession? This goes back to the Western idea of responsibility of ones own actions. There are too many examples of Islamic Fascists blaming the West for their own sordid dysfunctional societies. How about looking at the Pontiff’s speech and having a nice scholarly discussion instead of a bloody riot?

I can go on but I think I have made my point. Christianity has had its martial moments (I claim this land in the name of God and Spain!) but like I said earlier, we have had our Reformation and Enlightenment. All these people criticizing the Pontiff should look to their own societies first. These hypocrites are pointing fingers at us but their religion does have a history of converting people to Islam at the point of a sword or a gun. The journalists that were recently kidnapped in Gaza were freed only when they converted to Islam and they did so at gunpoint.

Back in February of this year I commented a little bit on the furor over the cartoons printed in Denmark. In my post titled Dissent and Tolerance, I pointed out that if the West is going to be critical of Muslims, at least criticize on something of substance. Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Islamic idea that God is so transcendent that “He cannot be seen in terms of human reason.” Violent conversion is not acting in accordance with reason which is contrary to God’s nature. That is a statement loaded with substance and pretty darn hefty to boot.

Pope Benedict XVI will probably express regret that the Muslim world didn’t understand what he was trying to say. This is a man who threw down the gauntlet in front of the College of the Cardinals. During the mass conducted prior to the conclave elevating him to the Papacy, he called on his fellow cardinals to “hold fast to the doctrine of the faith.” I don’t think an apology is coming from this particular pope.

The Muslim world will go on and have its riots. Should someone be forced by the sword to profess ones faith or do it after careful reasoned thought? At least they’re rioting over something worth fighting over instead of a stupid cartoon.

CPT NightHawk


Challenge Coins

A comment left by Anonymous posted here is asking about the coin in the picture. Some Brit is selling the coin on E-Bay and Anonymous is asking what it is.

The pictured coin is a challenge coin and because it is being auctioned by a Brit, I have to assume that it was presented to a British soldier by the commander of Task Force Aegis. In Greek mythology, the Aegis is the shield used by Zeus and adorned with Medusas head. I can tell you right now that no American or Canadian soldier would be hawking his challenge coin on E-Bay. Challenge coins from task force or mission commanders are the most prized because they denote you were there.

Challenge coins are typically presented by senior officers and senior NCO’s. These coins are typically presented as spot awards for recognizing good work. Whenever a flag officer visits his aide always asks for a number of soldiers to receive a coin from the general. The staff or senior NCO’s would nominate soldiers to receive the coin.

I have a few coins. I received coins from the commanders of Task Force Orion and the Tarin Kowt PRT, both of which I will treasure for the rest of my life. Another coin was presented to me by the officers and men of the 955th Engineer Company (Pipeline) when I left to take command of another unit in 1998. I and all the other soldiers of the 955th were presented coins by the Korean Service Corps (KSC) for training them on the Inland Petroleum Distribution System back in 1997.

We call these coins challenge coins because we in the military like to drink. Let’s say you decide to pop into the Officers or NCO Club, the Regimental Mess, or any off post drinking establishment. Let’s say that you run into someone that you served with on a previous deployment or you both were in the same unit in the past. If your buddy puts his coin on the table and you don’t have yours, the next round is on you. If you were prudent enough to have your coin on your person, the challenger buys! I typically carry my 955th Eng Co and KSC coin with me on all military related ventures in Missouri. I didn’t bring them with me to Afghanistan because I didn’t want to lose them and there is no booze to be had here anyway. I have an open invitation to visit many of the Patricia’s I served with and should I; I will have my Task Force Orion coin with me! If I am in Texas or the Washington DC area I will have my PRT coin with me for sure.

So Anonymous, I hope I answered your question. I am kinda miffed that this coin is being auctioned because there are many soldiers here in Regional Command South that are deserving of this coin. Oh well.

CPT NightHawk



Two of my aunts commented on my last post directly via e-mail rather than using the comment feature. My aunt who resides in Winnipeg Manitoba bluntly stated that:

“Jack Layton does not speak for mainstream Canada.”

I can tell you right now that Jack Layton doesn’t speak for most of the Canadian military in Afghanistan either. The running joke was that they would be glad to set up a meeting with the Taliban for Layton anytime. He will just have to forego the body armor and armed escort. They will stand by to pick up his body and severed head afterwards!

My aunt who resides in upstate New York (originally from Canada) started off by saying that she disagreed with me. Here is her comment:

“I must disagree with you. We should have stayed in Afghanistan in the first place and finished the job there, rather than tilt at windmills in Iraq. Hussein is a bad man but he had nothing to do with 9/11 and no "weapons of mass destruction" have been found. Our incursion into Iraq only fueled the fire and unfortunately also exposed how stretched our forces are around the world. Take care.”

I will rebut her comment point by point.

We have more troops in Afghanistan now (US and NATO) now than we did when we toppled the Taliban government back in 2001. This year is the first real effort at hammering the Taliban in their territory (Kandahar and Helmand provinces). We never left so her comment on staying in Afghanistan and finishing the job is off the mark. As for “tilting at windmills in Iraq”, please reread my post “Stabbed in the Back” to see one of the many examples of how the media is not telling the full story of what is going on in Iraq.

Hussein was a bastard that the United States allowed to live after we defeated him and his military in 1991. Hussein had at his command a nation state. Nation states have the resources and the means to sponsor terrorists by supplying advanced weaponry and laundering money. He may not have been directly involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks, but HE WAS CONNECTED TO TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS! By flouting United Nations resolutions he gave us a reason to invade. Hussein was not living up to his end of the deal and the only way to sort him out was to remove him from power.

As for “weapons of mass destruction”, we did find old munitions and some precursor materials. Was President Bush wrong on emphasizing “weapons of mass destruction”? That was a political decision on how to gain support for the initial invasion. Overall, there were many other reasons to invade. How about all the men and women that his regime killed, raped, and tortured since 1991? Those deaths are partially our fault so I see his removal from power as something we were morally obligated to do. What about the “Oil for Food Program”? The Europeans were debasing themselves in corrupting that program and that sordid mess had to be stopped.

The “fueled the fire” comment is laughable. Like I already mentioned in previous posts, our enemy hates us for what we are. The United States pulled out of Saudi Arabia and we still get grief. We intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo saving many Muslims from certain death and we still get grief. Israel pulls out of Gaza and southern Lebanon and is thanked with rockets. Israel offered Arafat a sweet heart deal and he rejects it! It doesn’t matter what we do, it is WHO AND WHAT WE ARE!

As for the “exposed how stretched our forces are around the world” comment, there is some merit to that comment but not much. NATO has more troops per square kilometer in the Balkans than in Afghanistan. Unfortunately the killing will resume in the Balkans should NATO leave so that is not an option. The United States spends 4.06% of GDP on defense spending and has 2.09% of its fit for service population in uniform (I used the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia for reference). That is half of what we were spending and half the number of personnel in 1991! The United States can easily build up its military to 1991 levels without impacting the economy or increasing taxes. All that is required is a political decision to reallocate government spending and the will of parents to encourage their children to serve. Recently a forty one year old grandmother joined the army along with her twenty one year old daughter. Pvt. Black is a Gen Xer like me. Where are all the Gen Y’s?

Here are some more of my observations that you all can chew on:

  • President Roosevelt led the United States during WWII. Germany never attacked us; Japan did. From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost an average of 112,500 per year.
  • Truman finished that war by authorizing the use of two atomic weapons on Japan, saving numerous Allied and Japanese lives from a costly invasion. Truman, through the United Nations, led the United States to war in Korea. North Korea never attacked the United States. From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost an average of 18,334 per year.
  • John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962 by sending in military advisers. Vietnam didn’t provoke that action by attacking the United States. When Vietnam seized the frigate in the Gulf of Tonkin, Johnson escalated our involvement. From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost an average of 5,800 per year.
  • Grenada didn’t attack us. Neither did Panama. Nor did Bosnia and the Serbian province of Kosovo.
  • In the years since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has not been attacked because the Islamic Fascists have decided to fix themselves in the two countries we invaded. So far we have lost less than 3000 military personnel in 5 years!

I argue that because we have been proactive in taking the fight to the Islamic Fascists, our combat dead are far fewer than what it would be otherwise. Some people argue that the war started on 9/11. Others argue the war started in 1979 when the US Embassy was overrun in Iran. I argue that this conflict has been going on ever since before the battle of Tours-Poitiers fought in 732 AD.

Political will and the courage to recognize that we are in an existential war with Islamic Fascists are what are needed to win. We Westerners didn’t start it, the Islamic Fascists did, and it is up to us to finish it.

CPT NightHawk


Patriot Day

I am in Afghanistan now because five years ago today the United States was attacked. It was a brilliantly executed plan and extremely successful. Close to three thousand people died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a small patch of land near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Smarter people than me have written reams of material explaining why we were attacked and how we should have responded. I want you all to know what I think.

We Westerners are by and large good people who try to do right by our families. We have a lifestyle that would make Solomon blush because of how we define our relationships with each other and our government. Westerners live with consensual government, free inquiry, innovative enterprise, and rationalism. We place a high value on freedom and individualism.

Our enemy, Islamic Fascists, hate us for what we are yet want the toys we create (cell phones, advanced weaponry, cars, etc). They believe Westerners are decadent and immoral yet the vast majority of Westerners willingly choose to abide by Christian principles. They believe in a government by decree and fatwa and we Westerners prefer the freewheeling mess of a representative democracy. There is no such thing as dissent in their eyes yet we tolerate a level of insult and epithet in order to protect free speech. Westerners believe in civic duty and responsibility and they treat civic positions as a way to enrich themselves and their tribe. They believe if something happens or doesn’t happen, inch’Allah (Allah wills it) whereas Westerners have a more rational and systematic approach to make things happen. Everything that is wrong with them is the fault of the West, not their own sordid and repressive culture. They treat their own women like chattel and keep them under wraps whereas Western women are free and independent. When a Western woman marries she made the decision, not her family.

So who are these Islamic Fascists anyway? They are Sunni and Shia and are found all over the world. Thanks to the Middle East Research Institute we Westerners can read for ourselves the vitriol purveyed to the masses of the Islamic world. Our problem as Westerners is that so many of us don’t believe there is a threat. Amazingly, there are Westerners who actually believe Western society is not worth saving and welcome any attacks from Islamic Fascists as justified.

I have seen the enemy and trust me on this, it ain’t us. I have watched Taliban videos where men who taught at government schools are shown being interrogated and then cut to where they are bound, blindfolded, and lying on the ground. While being held down their heads were hacked off by a man using a small dull knife. On other videos I have seen men sign up for Jihad, do a video will, and then see their pictures with a date and location of their suicide attacks with a claimed number of killed.

Some people like Jack Layton of the Canadian New Democratic Party suggest that we can negotiate with the Taliban. Based on what I have seen, not bloody likely. To an Easterner negotiation is an extension of the conflict whereas Westerners view negotiation as an end to conflict. We Westerners must not be seduced by the siren song of “negotiation”, we just have to kill them.

The last major shooting war where we fought Fascists was WWII. We never negotiated with the Germans, Italians, and the Japanese. The Western way of war is based on killing the enemy on an industrial scale. We have not really started killing Islamic Fascists in large enough numbers to actually change their minds about their Fascist ideology nor have we engaged all of the regimes that promote that ideology.

Therein lays the rub. We are in a war whether we like or not. The Islamic Fascists started it! To all those people in the United States and the Western world who think that we can just pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the problem will just go away are sadly mistaken. The Islamic Fascists will keep coming and coming until we as a society make the decision to finally deal with them once and for all.

Think about that when you are going about your business on Patriot Day.

CPT NightHawk


Eventful Week

Last Saturday I joined a mission that was aimed at visiting some key leaders in an area that was about to be blown all to hell by ISAF forces. The messages we were pushing was that ISAF is capable of killing lots of Taliban, ISAF will stick around when it is done, and that ISAF will help the supporters of the Afghan government out.

We held numerous shuras (meetings) with local village elders and a member of the Wolesi Jirga (the Afghan legislature). We coordinated for the delivery of American supplied material assistance (the Canadian government doesn’t like to use the term humanitarian assistance) that included basic foodstuffs, blankets, and tractors. In the picture I am on the left with my British Army colleague on the right.

Our mission had American, Canadian, and British personnel. Our mission was the velvet glove wrapped around the iron fist. We were delivering aid while the US Air Force was pounding the hell out of Taliban positions with Canadian troops poised to mop up the remnant Taliban.

The patrol base we staged from was pretty close to Taliban positions. Through the night I would be awakened by 500 and 1000 pound bombs going off close enough that I would feel the shock wave. Apache helicopters and A-10’s would blast the Taliban positions with chain guns and Hellfire missiles. No one got a decent nights rest.

The friendly fire incident you may have heard about happened less then a kilometer away where Pte. Mark Anthony Graham tragically lost his life. The Taliban staged a successful ambush less than 300 meters from the patrol base and were successful. All of the families of those killed in the ambush will mourn their loss but one felt it more acutely. WO Richard Francis Nolan was one of the soldiers killed and his wife arrived at the patrol base that morning because she is also in the Canadian Army. She found out about an hour after WO Nolan died as soon as she dismounted from the vehicle she was riding. They had children.

Our patrol was ambushed also but we got lucky. The Taliban threw mortars, RPG’s, and machinegun fire at us. I was a passenger in the lead vehicle so the Taliban started shooting as soon as we got into the kill zone. I was on the side being shot at so I was calling out targets to the gunner through the vehicle communications system. By the time the gunner got eyes on the target he couldn’t engage because the target left his assigned sector of fire. A mortar position (I originally thought it was an RPG) shot early enough that the gunner engaged the position. The mortar landed three meters from my window.

By shooting at my vehicle the Taliban revealed their positions. The vehicles behind us had better views of the targets and blasted the hell out them. The Mark 19 grenade launcher shot around forty rounds and the gunner was laying them in wherever he saw a puff of smoke from a mortar or RPG position. All the other gunners (M2 .50 cal and M240B 7.62mm) stitched rounds into anyone that was carrying an AK-47 or shooting a machine gun.

When we arrived at our destination we inspected the vehicles and we didn’t find any indicator of being hit. No scratched paint and no injuries. They MISSED! We were lucky because lately the Taliban have been pretty effective with their ambushes.

We ran an impromptu vehicle check point and I damn near blew away a couple of guys. The men had waved a car through then all of a sudden they started yelling at me to stop the car. I waved them to stop but the car kept coming and I brought my rifle up and thumbed the safety. The car stopped and the men surrounded the car yelling at them to get out, in English. I almost yelled at the men to just motion for the occupants to get out but the interpreter arrived and sorted the situation out. The occupants had an AK-47 and an RPG launcher. It turned out that they were off duty police. They were a bit truculent until we explained to them that we just fought through an ambush and that they were not in uniform!

The last couple of days we were staging from the Canadian PRT in Kandahar City. The only interesting thing to note from the last couple of days was that riding in the back of an RG-31 Nyala vehicle with a malfunctioning air conditioner is about as close to hell as I want to go. Every time we hit a bump I bounced so hard that I hit the ceiling with my head (thankfully I had my helmet on) and it was close to 50° C (122° F)! Two hours after dismounting the vehicle I was still soaked in sweat. You can see a Nyala on the left side of the picture above.

All this craziness is going on in the Panjwayi and Zhari districts of Kandahar Province. Kandahar Province is not in flames, only Panjwayi and Zhari. There is no resurgence of Taliban, they have always been here. It is only just this year that we are actively seeking out and engaging the Taliban.

My bride is breathing easier now that I am back at Kandahar Airfield. She wants me to put more effort into buying more carpets rather than going on missions! I am getting pretty short anyway so if they ask for my assistance again I will probably decline unless I am directly ordered which is unlikely.

I had a pretty eventful week.

CPT NightHawk