Archive for the ‘ABOL’ Category

IBOL ]I[

August 5, 2011

I heard from Afghanistan today.  Between IBOL / ABOL, and the Super Secret Projects, the bundle count was about 400.  Well, just shy of 400 right now.  More are en route, I know, but it’s a bunch.

Thank you.  That’s awesome.

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Ramadan

August 2, 2011

Ramadan is here.  The new moon is out, signaling the start of the new lunar month.  It’s been a long time coming.

And with the arrival of Ramadan, comes the end of this round of IBOL, er, I mean, ABOL.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the help with ABOL this year.  It’s been awesome.  I owe you all some more photos, and soon.

What’s next?  Bundles move to Iraq via the US Postal System.  The folks in Afghanistan keep distributing them. And I keep sweating — it’s been 120+ during the day, and a mere 90+ at night.

I haven’t seen a bundle count for Afghanistan, but between the bundles, and the school supplies, and yes, the beanie babies — I would call this year a big, big success.

Maiwand sewing training

July 27, 2011

Got some photos in email today.  Pretty sweet.

But, before I forget, yes — there is still time to put bundles into the mail.  The goal remains to try and get stuff into the mail this month — well, this week.

But now, photos.

One last week

July 24, 2011

Well, good morning.

Back in 2009, during the first go-around of IBOL, my boss use to give me some grief about working on IBOL.  If you have time enough for that, he’d say, you have time to hunt the car bomb makers.  Those were dark days still, a time when some very angry people really were making and setting of what seemed like a car bomb a day.  Truck bombs, too.

For me, though, it wasn’t just about getting to the car bombs before they went off, it was about keeping people from making them.  The bundles were a big part of them.  Reconnect the people to their leaders, re-establish the link between those with grievances and those who are in a position to address them.  Bundles, I saw, were a part of that.

These days feel somewhat like that again.  As the US draws down her personnel, and begins to end the advise and assist mission that brought us here in partnership with the will of the Iraqi Government and her people, it’s time to be vigilant and safely bring our men and women home.

My boss says that when you’ve been shot, it’s not time to cure cancer.  I’m not worried about Iraq; she’ll be fine.  But we will not go gentle into that good night.

Which leaves the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan.  And this last week of putting stuff into the mail, so that it might arrive in our Gregorian month of August, also known as Ramadan.  These bundles won’t cure cancer, not by a long shot.  But they are tools, very simple tools, to help with that.  While I labor away here in Baghdad, helping to close up shop and helping to ward off those who would do us harm, Please put those last bundles into the mail.  Ramadan will be upon us soon, and with it, the goal of using bundles during this, a season of giving and introspection.

The road ahead in Iraq

July 17, 2011

I was hoping to offer up an update on how things are going in Afghanistan, with the deliveries of bundles and super secret projects.  But we’ve been missing each other.

But boy, can I talk about Iraq.  Did you see the news earlier this week, about the new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visiting Baghdad to talk to the Iraqi Government about the road ahead for US/Iraqi relations.  Well, the road ahead for a US Military role.  There are a few other good articles worth reading, too — here and here.  It’ll be interesting to see if this big debate over the road ahead if resolved in the coming two weeks, before Ramadan.  I bet not.

I do thing, though, that we need more cute puppies on the battlefield.  We’ve got a retired military working drop who now ha the mission to visit Soldiers and make them feel better.  That’s about the most awesome job ever.  Good doggie, good doggie.

Tough week here in Baghdad

July 10, 2011

Sorry for being so quiet this week.  Been a tough, tough week.

I had high hopes for the weeks, actually.  Sunday was a nice pre-4th BBQ, complete with a pig roast (we can talk about the appropriateness of a pig roast in Iraq later, ok?).  The 4th was a nice day — I covered down on the office with a few others while my boss and a lot of the Joes headed out for some festivities with our Iraqi counterparts (and no, there wasn’t a second pig roast).

And then the week just got rough, with the low point for me being an attack that took the lives of two Soldiers from 116 Cav.

Like I said — tough week.

It’s Sunday, and that means Skype with the family, and some extra sleep (every little bit counts) and other important things – like dropping off dirty laundry.

Though silent here, I’ve had some great conversations this week with some of you — Super Secret Projects 5 and 6, and the bundles in Afghanistan.  It’s good to hear that people are having fun rounding up bling.  Who knew huh?

So, thanks.  And here’s to a better week.

SSP6 (and some feedback)

July 3, 2011

I think it was the NY Times that described June as having had the greatest number of US Forces killed in Iraq in a while — a couple of years or something.

So, yeah — June has been a tough month.  We fight for king and country, but we also fight for those to our left and to our right.

Buuuuut, I do have to say — bundles have been flowing into AF.  I should see if I can call the AF crew tomorrow, for a check — there are few benefits to being in Iraq, but free calls to Afghanistan is one of them.

I did get some feedback from the folks on the ground in Afghanistan.  “Please send bling” was one of their requests.  Actually, the quote was “If available, they suggest sending some bling-bling to fasten to the clothing. The ladies enjoy decorating their clothes with mirrored items, fake stones and sequence.”

I think that’s certainly reasonable.

I also think this should be a bit inspiring:

Other feedback included great cheering over the inclusion of thread and needles “and things,” though I’m a bit unsure what that means.  Perhaps pastries.  “Threads are good, sheer-type fabric is good for head scarves and things, patterns fabrics are good, even velvet-type fabrics are really popular here (even in the summer heat!)  Needles for hand-embroidery, pins, sewing machine needles, and trim (beads, lace, thin ribbons) and bolts of fabric big enough to make a standard shalwar chemise would be great, too.”

More Female Engagement Team news, here.  Very neat article, here.  And a neat video, here.

And last, but certainly not least, if you’re looking for a little something else to do, it’s time for Super Secret Project 6.  Leave me a comment if you need the bundles address, or if you want more details on the SSP6.  It’s gonna be fun.

Sometimes, it’s more than awesome

June 28, 2011

You know, it’s not all horrible over here.

I spent Monday on the road, heading out to go see another unit.  It just so happens that we went by air, and that I got the best seat in the house, and that our path took us over the marshes.  Dumb luck on my part, but it made for a pretty awesome day.

No, that’s not a road but a waterway.

See?  Boats, not terrorists.  Not even speeding boats, just boats.

Want to know the best thing about today?

Ann and Diana (Diana and Ann?) and their nine boxes / 45 lbs of love.  It made my day.

It’s about scale

June 26, 2011

Let’s see.  Some things that I have learned this week.

1.  Treadle sewing machines are in need.  I think that, to a “T”, all of the teams in AF see the need for them.  They are a game changer.

2.  They would need to be sustainable.  I don’t know about you. but I look forward to a time when there are fewer or little or no US Forces in Afghanistan.  So, local parts, local repairs, local services for the machines will be important over the longer term

3.  There are a bunch of others working on putting more sewing and fiber-related goods into Afghanistan, in support of the CSTs and FETs.  Check here to see. They have a whole other scale of effort underway.

4.  And yes, there are folks looking at the economic aspects of it, too.  Like Thunderbird.  Really — that Thunderbird.

5.  it’s way to hot here.  I went for a run last night, leaving around 8pm, and it was still 107 degrees.  10 miles and some time later, after I’d cleaning up, it was still 97 degrees.

So, that’s what’s weighing on my mind these days.  Bundles, super secret projects (#6 should kick off in about a week), and sewing machines.  Oh, and that work these — there are still some angry / pissed off / violent people here in Baghdad, and we’re doing our best to help our battle buddies in the Iraqi Security Forces as they work to advance the security both of the city and the region.  Never a dull day, never a dull day….

Just don’t call me Captain Ahab

June 24, 2011

I love being involved in IBOL.  I really do.

Yesterday morning, in the skies over Afghanistan, someone pushed a rig out of a perfectly good airplane, and used an airborne delivery to put some IBOL / ABOL bundles on the ground in a remote part of Afghanistan.

Just think about that one for a second.  A guy in Baghdad, on a website in America, working with volunteers from all over the place (and not just in America), sending sewing, knitting and quilting supplies to an air base in Afghanistan, to be loaded onto and dropped out of an airplane.

Pretty darn-tootin’ cool, if you ask me.  It’d be better only if they let me jump in, too.

And if yesterday wasn’t awesome enough, I closed out my day with almost an hour on the phone with Jan, one half (the better half?) behind the Lamia Afghan Foundation.  What in the world would we have to talk about?  Wow, what didn’t we talk about — logistics, contracts, tax status, vendors, 4×4 trucks, etc.  But at the root of it all?  My quest for sewing machines.

See, I’m stuck on a problem.  The CST and the FET’s are a great match for IBOL/ABOL, as I see it.  But sewing machines are always an issue — cost, availability, and (yes!) electricity.  I can’t do money, I can’t make electricity, but maybe I can work availability.

So, we’re talking.  I am interested in a solution more than I am in it being my solution.  I am worried about finding a way to get it done, than I am about who does it.  I know we can figure something out — it just takes some more head scratching, maybe some emails, maybe a phone call or two — and, I’m sure, some napkins on which to doodle and sketch.

So, yeah — sewing machines.  Manual, nonelectric sewing machines, like the Janone 712T or something.  Something local in Afghanistan is best — with service and parts and all that being right there, local.

More to follow.  Email me if you have ideas — I’m open to everything.  I’m stalking this like it’s a white whale and whale hunting wasn’t seen as a bad thing like i actually is.  Wow — I just realized that Moby Dick is entirely wrong, in our society today.  Bummer.