This project focuses on documenting, through art, the trials and tribulations of Canadian soldiers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Friends in High Places

April 1, 2011, South Panjwai Afghanistan.

Today Shaun and myself moved from KAF to a forward operating base (FOB) in the South Panjwai district of Afghanistan. Along the way we ran into our good friend Mike S at the linkup for the ride into the FOB. Its was great to see another friendly face in KAF and indeed, it was because of Mike and others that Shaun and I have the gear we need to be able to operate here. Mike was generous enough to provide our body armor, ensure we had transport to the FOBs and even the day of our meeting he showed up with more goodies. Thanks again Mike.

The ride out to the FOB was quick and efficient. Rotary transport into FOBs is all business and they don’t want to hang around any longer than they need to. After a few quick stops to drop off personal at other patrol bases, we arrived at ours (name withdrawn due to OPESEC). Those who have been here will know it for its high feature that was built by the Russians. We were met by a young MCpl who gave a quick briefing of the base and walked us around the perimeter. Immediately, Shaun and I felt very welcome here. Our accommodation was better than KAF, we were surrounded by cheerful, efficient soldiers going about their business and there is very positive vibe about the entire base. We met the base commander and SgtMaj and again were welcomed and afforded every courtesy. Once we explained what we were doing there (you’re a what??), everybody got it. More than that, they truly appreciate that somebody has come all the way from Canada to document their story. I think they feel a little bit forgotten about over here as they do watch CBC and the only time they are mentioned, is when one of their own is flown back to Canada under a flag.
A word on food. Anybody who has ever served knows the importance of food and when you’re operational, in a theater of war, it becomes more than just food: it becomes part of your existence, your routine and if its well prepared, it becomes a highlight of your day. The food on the large bases like KAF and KAIA is managed by a catering contractors from the US and UK… and it was very uninspiring. Plastic food at its best. In contrast, the food in the FOBs is created by military cooks who take a great deal of pride in work and it shows. The food in this particular FOB is as good as any I’ve ever had. I’ve actually had to cut back for fear of gaining weight. My associate Shaun on the other hand dives right in.