Saturday, September 27, 2014

Southern Afghanistan - Snapshots & Recollections

Pictures and words by Barry Greville-Eyres


Saddle-bagged, Afghan styled bicycle against blast wall

  • Weeks on the hop and fly - half a dozen or more beds to add to the growing tally. Flips on RAF rotary (Chinook) and fixed (Hercules C130) wing aircraft - Deep in the bowels of the C130, with countless British service men and women, incredible sense of purpose and solidarity - camaraderie despite being complete strangers. Silent conversations and thoughts passing amongst one another effortlessly with clear intent and understanding - copy that!

  • Old business and fresh money that is war never stops - a 24/7/365 - more than a decade serving and servicing the insatiable, econo-beast. Landing at Kandahar Air Field in the dead of night - hearing and then seeing, in an eerie darkness, as two USAF F16 jet fighters blast themselves from a standstill into the slumbering night sky - full throttle with after burners blazing away, ghostlike bluey-orange - GONE - a tell-tale signature for those watching and waiting;

  • Deadly drones and Marabou storks - hungry and hateful harbingers  - up to mischief and probably not too much good!

  • Receiving VIP US/UK mil treatment - accepted and respected as a peer and professional - having passed the scrutiny test - personality and credibility. Holding one's own in meetings and briefings - dancing with the  civ-mil connect ....  requiring a fleet footed yet bizarre repertoire of 'moves', growing confidence and pragmatism.

  • Suddenly that's that - moving onto a new 'theatre of war' increasingly real and drama-filled probably nearer than further - when will it ever end? Framed backs moving forward without hesitation or directional glances - certainly not backward! Gone and forgotten by most 

  • Something’s that are said to be true are the case especially when experienced first-hand over a life time - even the modern military - massive, mighty and sophisticated has hardly changed when it comes of the age-old adage of 'hurry up and wait;'

  • Social media - sensation and attention seekers - sheer volume of posts responsibility of individuals to be street-wise, sensitive and discerning with what they post. In relation to FB many tend to get emotional and lose sense of perspective and good common sense -  water of duck's back. Ultimately, individuals represent or are associated with an organization - unless individuals go as far as distancing or 'disclaiming' themselves from this connection or association they are part and parcel of the organization. Including insensitive and thoughtless photos and comments. Rule of thumb - think before you post! Think context - think about messages you are sending out - especially to local / national staff and a, potential, wider global audience. Especially if linked to a global brand or organization. 

Containerized accommodation for the Gurkha close/base protection force in Kandahar with their 'green fingers' handy work of sunflowers in the foreground


Flowering mint and marrows


Grapes and vines on Hescos - blast protection structures


Pre-dawn smiles usher in another day in Kandahar .....  IDG's Gurkha close/base protection force gear up for duty
  • Connecting with my spiritual, Gurkha brothers -  feeling, seeing and sensing their alienation - sharing time, space, stories and good humour with all - acknowledging and appreciating their immense sacrifice; 

An Afghan National Army defensive position overlooking the Helmand River - vestiges of another super-heated summer day


Golden silence with the Helmand River floodplain in the mid-ground
  •  Witnessing, daily, the heat build over southern Afghanistan.... blinding, searing, sapping and white hot - finally dissipating at the day end like a long held sigh;
  • September and the slow, steady slide towards winter - the promise of respite.... taking the sting and fight out of warmongers - slipping back into nature's trusty rhythms   




Persian garden on the bank of the Helmand River - legacy of Helmand Valley Development Authority or 'Little America' dating back to the 1950s


A day well done - upper reaches of Helmand River from Lashkar Gah


Riverside Helmand - Lashkar Gah Health and Racquet Club - a work in progress! 


Kandahar desert garden 


A rather pointed, ladies' finger - the commonly used okra vegetable valued for its edible green seed pods


UNDP compound - Lashkar Gah - Helmand Province pioneering regionalization and deconcentration in southern Afghanistan


  • The sum of some very good men is infinite. Met and work with some exceptional US/UK military men - many will be leaving the Afghan theatre within the next month or so as the ISAF/NATO drawdown is completed. The same can be said about the new generation of young Afghan men and women, particularly our colleagues in the Lashkar Gah office, that are enthusiastic, energetic, highly committed and are desperate to see Afghanistan succeed and prosper post-2014.   

Added spice to our lives


Meeting with Governor Naeem - Lashkar Gah - Helmand Province


Flowered sun! 
  •  Flowered and nurtured by Nepalese tender loving care under a relentless summer sun…..



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