Air field errand makes for long week in Afghanistan

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This week, for some reason, went by a lot slower than previous weeks here in Jalalabad. When I look back at everything that went on this week, last Monday seems so far away.

My company commander and battalion commander came over for my promotion on Monday afternoon. We did the pinning ceremony out on the Afghan National Army’s parade field, which sits right next to our tactical operations center.

The ANA parade field, first of all, is not an extravagant area where one would normally expect to see troops in a line all ready for inspection. On the contrary, it is a small area where grass is overgrown with a dirt path that cuts diagonally through the field. There is also a little blue stage on one corner of the grounds that has the provincial map of Afghanistan painted across it.

Trees line all around the grassy area making it a nice shady place during the hot summer months. At any rate, this is where I did my promotion, which lasted all but five minutes.

My ANA S2 (intelligence) counterpart made it back from Eid Al-Adha a few days ago. He spent some time with his family in Kabul and also made a point to link up with the Corps G2, which is his higher command amongst the intelligence community. I saw him briefly when he got back, but I found myself getting ready to head that direction myself.

As I may have mentioned before, I have found myself doing many different jobs that I thought I would never get to do here in Afghanistan.

We had to spin up a convoy to go to the Bagram Air Field in order to pick up some MRAPs, which are the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, for our Kandak embedded transition teams. On this trip, I manned a M240B machine gun from the turret of a HMMVW. We made decent time getting over there; but it was the trip back that would take the longest.

Once we got to Bagram, we loaded up the MRAPs on jingle trucks. By the time we got the jingle trucks loaded up, the sun had gone down yet our plan was to get back to Kabul in order to spend the night and then to journey through the mountains back to Jalalabad the next day.

So through the night, we trucked from Bagram to Kabul with 10 fully loaded jingle trucks. Traveling with 10 jingle trucks takes time and patience. Quite often I found myself hanging out of the turret using my arms to signal to them what we needed them to do.

We stopped at a combat outpost along the way back to drop off two of our jingle trucks.

On our way out, we heard over the radio that an Afghan National Police checkpoint was being ambushed just down the road. The outpost informed us to wait until the quick reaction force cleared the way. As we rolled passed the ANP checkpoint, we didn’t hear any gunfire and the QRF was in the process of checking out the situation. We rolled right on through and the rest of the way was a fairly quiet trip.

Our ETT still has several MRAPs to deliver and we head north here fairly soon to do it.

The route takes us through what feels like the road to the "wicked witch of the west". The Pech River Valley has been a constant hot spot of enemy activity and it could very well be no different when we go through there.

I hope that this finds everybody doing well. The Army-Navy football game is next week and I hope that Army will pick up a "W". I can’t even remember the last time was that we beat Navy — it definitely wasn’t while I was at the Academy. Maybe this year will be different.

First Lt. Andrew Plucker is deployed to Afghanistan. He is not an Army spokesman, and his updates from the field are written from his personal perspective as a soldier.

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