Happy Easter from Shinkai District, Afghanistan.
You’ll be happy to know your soldiers got a good meal with pie, turkey and ham at Forward Operating Base Sweeney. There wasn’t much else for the holiday here because most of the American soldiers were coming home from a two-day mission to resupply an Afghan base north of here. They were too tired and dirty for an egg hunt. Me too.
This mission gave me a strong sense of the challenges traveling around Afghanistan presents for U.S. ground forces. I was in one of the latest models of the eight-wheeled Stryker, the main infantry vehicle used at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. One Stryker sank in an irrigation ditch on the way to the destination; another Stryker sank on the way back to Sweeney.
They fell prey to mud in narrow roads. Getting the first one out took the work of two tow trucks.
It took about 10 hours to get from Sweeney to Forward Operating Base Nawbahar, a distance of about 40 kilometers. It’s slow going here because of the rugged terrain, primitive roads and the threat of buried bombs.
These are the same vehicles that were able to virtually cross Iraq in a day to join in on battles as reinforcements while they happened. Iraq, of course, had highways.
Still, the resupply to Nawbahar was a success. No one was hurt and the Afghan army got badly needed materials to troops who hadn’t received a similar supply in six months. Peter is working up a batch of photos and I have a story coming soon that will help you get a sense of how the resupply effort came together and why it mattered.
“If we don’t supply them, they’ll have every reason not to patrol,” said Capt. Joe Mickley, commander of the U.S. troops here. Mickley collaborates closely wit his Afghan counterparts and is seeking to build faith in the Afghan government here. We hope to show more examples of that in stories to come. For starters, he keeps tea in his headquarters to make Afghans feel comfortable when they visit to talk about plans.
We’ll be at FOB Sweeney for the next few days. The soldiers here report to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. Many were assigned to the Cav squadron from one of its sister units at Lewis-McChord, the 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment.