Filtering by Tag: kabul

The Land of Conexes

Back when I was in the Army, there were these rusted-out hulks of metal containers called Conexes that littered the motor pools.  We stored all kinds of crap in there.  I remember being told that they weren't being made anymore and that we were lucky to have them.

Conexes are a shorter version of Milvans or Seavans.  All of them used to be in high demand since the Army is famous for squirreling away all kinds of stuff, sometimes useful, most of the time not.  Because the Army supply system was sometimes unreliable, every unit Supply Sergeant had a rat's nest of double secret supplies that could be called upon, if necessary.  These supplies also made great trading material for other supplies and materials that a unit needed.

Even in Antarctica, Conexes and Milvans were in high demand, again to store and squirrel away all kinds of stuff where there was no other room for it.  On  the Ice, we stashed away cabling, tires, connectors, antennas, old radios, car parts, basically whatever folks thought they would need in an emergency -- but usually never did.  As a result, all the stuff in these rusted, metal containers usually were covered with dirt, grime, dust, and other filth -- inches deep.

Not until I came to Kabul did I realize that these horrid things had other uses and capabilities.  Here in Afghanistan, people live and work in them!  They provide the raw building blocks for most of the new structures standing up here to meet the coming surge.  When I see how many of these containers have come into country, it makes me wonder why I didn't see this earlier and bought stock in the company.  It's probably not too late to get in on the next wave of profits.

This new barracks is constructed of seven rows of Milvans, two stories high.  There's three guys sleeping in a space of 130 square feet.  Make your buddy smile!!

Here our guards camp out in them.  We plumb them for electricity so there is light and heat.  The Conex next to the guard shack is used for garbage.  The difference between sleeping quarters and garbage receptacles is electricity.

A Friday Bazaar

Most of the compounds around Kabul used to allow its residents to walk downtown to frequent restaurants and shops.  Since the Taliban have resorted to car bombs and attacks on coalition forces, we are no longer allowed to walk outside the compounds.  The local shopkeepers had become dependent upon the westerners shopping in their stalls.  So, in the name of good relations and good business, the bazaar has come to us on Eggers -- but only on Fridays.

Some interesting drawings and paintings.
The usual cloth, clothing, and trinkets.

A gem seller with loose stones.  I'm told the prices are good.

Nothing attracted me except the gemstones.  I'll have to confer with my friend who is a gemologist to see what I need to look for and what prices are reasonable.

The troops were more attracted to the the piles of DVDs that were available.  We get AFRTS here (military television), but most Soldiers pass around stacks of DVDs for their entertainment back in the barracks.

The Alamo

One of the "Safe Houses" where Americans live is The Alamo.  This is where I currently reside, although today all of the techs that were housed with me left to go to a new and much improved Safe House, The Tillman House, named after the professional football player turned Ranger who was killed by friendly fire a few years ago.  I'm now living alone in a GP Medium tent erected in the courtyard of a former mansion.  I'm so lonely and confused...

NOT.  Anyway, I'll figure out what is going to happen to me sometime tomorrow.  I've got to work all night in the Technical Control Facility, where I currently work, to assist with an Authorized Service Interruption (ASI) for some equipment that needs repair and maintenance.

Ah yes, home sweet home.  I'm learning to dig tent living again.  It will be much better when winter comes, dumps piles of snow onto the dirt and dust, and I get to traipse through it going to and from the showers and bathrooms.

We have bunkers to run to should RPGs, mortars, rockets, or bombs go off near our compound.  I've been lucky so far.  But I'm told that we get hit every few weeks or so.


More shots of the Alamo.  It's a pretty good sized compound.  The military have priority for the hard billets.  Sleazy, slimy contractors like myself are relegated to the tents.

Some Sights Around Eggers Compound in Kabul

I took a couple of photos today of some odd stuff at Eggers.  The first shot shows the specific place the military has deemed appropriate for cigar smoking. 

What's interesting about this, and I don't know if this was intended to be humorous, but the Afghan Air Improvement Committee (whatever that is) allows open incineration of paper products every day in metal bins.  Kabul is known to have some of the worst air pollution in the world because of the open burning and the surrounding mountains that keep the smog in place throughout the year.

Adjacent to the cigar smoking area was this remnant of an old Afghan mosaic:

Eggers is located near the old and new US Embassies.  The neighborhood that existed before the Russian and Taliban occupation/destruction must have been a nice area.  The houses were large and had protective walls around the courtyards.  After the destruction (Russian/Taliban/US), the US moved in and created a "Green Zone" just like the one that existed in Baghdad.  The US now leases all of this neighborhood (for millions of dollars) and is free to modify all of the buildings for its use.  Here, an old, traditional mosaic shows the ravages of war and the US presence -- it now is positioned below a row of electrical junction boxes powering this portion of the compound.  When the US leaves, most of this neighborhood will have to be razed and rebuilt by the Afghans who own the property.  No big deal, I think, since they are becoming rich with US lease dollars.