Bagram and On To Kabul

We arrived in Bagram at 0215 hours.  We bused from the flight line to the terminal.  After processing in (every time one moves in this theater, your CAC card (Common Access Card -- your ID) is scanned.  This way, the military knows where everyone is located for many reasons (feeding, medical, evacuation, notifications, etc.).  I noticed that there were three flights to Kabul this morning.  This is unusual I was told.  Normally there is only one flight per day and one has to wait up to four days to get on it.  Looking at some of the poor tired souls in the terminal who had been waiting that long, I felt more dread.  I'm already tired from my trip and looking at the terminal, there was only one latrine, no beds or cots, stiff chairs, and dirty linoleum on which to lie down.  The irony is that Bagram is only 50 miles from Kabul.

A few years ago, the military would bus everyone down to Kabul from Bagram AFB.  Since the advent of IEDs and suicide bombers, only certain armor uplifted vehicles were allowed to make the drive.  The British still made the run and I was looking for some Brit Soldiers to befriend in order to get down there. 

The first two flights to Kabul were supposed to take off around 0400 and 0430.  Last flight was at 1100.  Our baggage had not arrived at the terminal yet and the time was now 0400.  I'm thinking this was another military SNAFU that would mean that I would have to try to get onto the 1100 flight or be delayed for a day, sitting in the terminal smelling badly and wishing I was somewhere else.

Baggage finally arrived around 0500 but the two C-130 flights were delayed -- I guess to wait for us.  Anyway, we eventually get manifested on these birds and waited in the terminal to board the buses to go back out to the flight line.  Finally, some USAF sergeant shows up and calls out our names and everyone runs to the buses.  Except for me.  My name wasn't called.  The sergeant had my CAC card, hadn't called me out, so I was left standing in the terminal wondering what other bullshit I had to go through in order to get to Kabul.  I ran (again) to the manifest desk and spoke with the reps there and explained the situation.  They told me that I was manifested and that I should be on the plane.  I wasn't I told them.  They now ran out to the line to resolve it for me -- I guess they saw how pitiful I looked and couldn't bear to see me in the terminal for another day or two.

Anyway, I get on, fly the 11 minute flight to Kabul International Airport, and arrive only to be confronted with a sign stating that transportation to the various compounds around Kabul only happens at 0600 and 1500.  It's now 0645 hours.  I coudn't imagine being stuck in another empty marble room with nowhere to go until that afternoon.  Fortunately, I was speaking with a Soldier back in Bagram who had been waiting two days for a flight.  He works the Army communications program that my company supports and he gave me the phone number to the Tech Control Facility at Eggers.  I called, told the guy at the other end of the phone that I was a new ITT guy and asked him if he could provide transportation.  Yep.  30 minutes later I was riding a Disney E-Ticket ride with my Uzbeck driver who made up his own driving laws as he went.  How we didn't kill multiple bicyclists and two donkeys I'll never know.  The ride woke me up and I was ready to report to work -- and find a bed to sleep.

The coalition here truly is international.  I've seen Canadians, Brits, Italians, Mongolians, French, Norwegians, and others that I haven't yet recognized.

Seems like all the coalition forces drive around in armor uplifted Toyota Land Cruisers with a complete array of radio antennas.  It's difficult to pick out your vehicle and driver from every other Land Cruiser driven by a Uzbek.