Sunday, September 29, 2013

Boooooored...But That's A Good Thing Right?

It's been fairly dull here at ISAF Joint Command the past few weeks. Busy, but dull. I've mentioned before that I wish I had more to discuss since I have consistent access to the internet as opposed to my last deployment where I had lots to talk about but limited internet access. Assuming all goes to plan, I'll be leaving here and going back to a position in Virginia in a little over a month. It's been a quick year and I hope the last month of it is as smooth as most of the other months have been.

Since I have nothing to discuss, here's a link to a news article stating Tunisia's current by an Islamist political party...will likely be stepping down and a transitional goverment will be established followed by elections. Good to see that Tunisia could settle this without widespread violence like what is being currently seen in Egypt.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Al Shabaab Back From The Dead?

It's been awhile since I discussed Al Shabaab, the Al Qaida-linked, Somalia-based organization. Several times on this blog I mentioned that I assessed the organization to be all but dead. Al Shabaab has been losing territory and towns in Somalia to the African Union and has been unable to really mount any offensive action, although they still control a chunk of southern Somalia. From what I've seen all the group has been able to do is conduct a few terrorist/insurgent type attacks in Mogadishu such as this grenade attack in the Bakara Market.

Well it appears Al Shabaab has upped the ante, so to speak, and launched a Mumbai style attack in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack/standoff in the mall is still on-going as I type this but so far 39 people have been killed and the gunmen apparently are holding hostages.

Does this signal a shift in location and tactics by Al Shabaab? It would be an interesting move by the organization if they have decided to abandon Somalia and focus their attention on Kenya which has contributed greatly to the African Union mission in Somalia against Al Shabaab. However, what is most likely occuring is not a shift entirely of the group per se, but merely an attack designed to shift Kenyan popular opinion against the government's operations in Somalia. If Al Shabaab can force Kenya to re-allocate resources to protecting itself and have less focus on Somalia, then it just might be possible for Al Shabaab to go back on the offensive in Somalia.

It's an ugly world out there.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rockets Make For A Crappy Alarm Clock

Rockets...I hate rockets.

It's the sound they make when they fly in. Nothing else sounds like it and my heart always stops when I hear it. Lucky enough, I haven't heard rockets since 2004 when Camp Victory in Baghdad would get hit fairly consistently and I'd lay in bed wondering if the next one flying over would land in my room. Well...lucky until this morning.

This deployment has been boring for me. As I've jokingly said a few times, I get bored if I'm not getting shot at. Each one of my previous deployments there has either been a threat of indirect fire or I was going outside the wire enough on patrols and convoys that there was a potential for getting either blown up or shot at. Other than one minor incident, in which I was in no real danger, absolutely nothing has happened on or to this base. It's like the Taliban just choose to ignore it.

It took 10 months but some neighborhood Taliban asshole finally decided that we needed some rockets in the morning...5:30 in the morning to be precise. Damnit man, you could at least wait until after 8am when I'm at work!

The initial banshee scream woke me up followed by the explosion. A second rocket jolted me completely awake. I had two choices: rush to a bunker in my pajamas, or roll over and go back to sleep. Damn straight I went back to sleep...or tried to anyway. After 10 months of no rockets or mortars, suddenly having to face the realization that you are vulnerable makes sleep a tad difficult. When I finally went into work I learned that one of the rockets landed 100-150 meters from where I sleep. That's far in the scheme of indirect fire but it's a tad bit too close for comfort.

I'm way too close to the end of my deployment to want to deal with rockets. I feel like PVT Hudson in "Aliens" when he states, "Oh man, I was getting short. Four more weeks and out. Now I'm going to buy it on this rock."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back Into Purgatory

My short hiatus and vacation are over and I got back into Kabul a couple of nights ago. Very little has changed while I was away, not that I really expected some dramatic upheaval. When I came back from leave on my last deployment there was quite a bit to get caught up on, including 700+ emails. But things are way different up here at Corps than they are at the tactical level.

There are a few new additions and subtractions to the office as some folks left country and were replaced while I was away. One of the new coworkers is actually an old instructor of mine from when I was at the military intellligence career course; spent several minutes catching up which was great. Yet another reminder what a small world the intel community really is.

So back to the Afghan grind...for a couple of months anyway. This year has flown by.