Trip to Eye Doctor and Traffic Snarl

Army SSG guiding MRAP.

The past several days I have been penned up in my room on quarters for fear of spreading an eye virus.  At first, this was a great opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest and tidy up my room a bit.  But after a few days of imprisonment, I became bored and edgy.  However, I used some of this time for reflection and contemplation about my future after this deployment.  After 8 ½ months and traveling 3,000 miles through 5 provinces wearing body armor, weapons and gear, my body is starting to feel the effects.  Frequently I wake up sore, especially after a long mission.  Sometimes the pain only lasts for a day, while other times it will persist for several days.  Maybe this is just another tell-tale sign reminding me that it’s time to retire.  In my younger years, I used to compete at sports and martial arts.  I felt almost invincible at that time.  But now as the years have gone by, my youthful appearance and energy have evaporated.  It’s time to pass the torch to the younger generation.

Mission briefing with new teammates.

Part of today’s mission was to visit the optometrist for a further evaluation of my eye problem and get some repairs on our communication equipment.  At the morning mission briefing, there were some new faces that I didn’t recognize.  This would be their first mission through the capital city.  Previously this squad was stationed at FOB Shank and now they are part of our brigade team.

The AF Captain gave the mission briefing and highlighted some of the most recent happenings.  As reported by the local media, thieves or insurgents stole 6 bullet-proof armored vehicles from the Ministry of Defense storage.  A rocket landed near the embassies and the Serena Hotel was attacked again by the insurgents.  So we had to be attentive and put on our game faces.  Despite the massive amount of security in the capital, I know from researching http://www.icasualties.org/ web site that since the beginning of OEF, 104 coalition forces have died in the Kabul province.  So this emerging city of 3 million people is still a very dangerous place and coalition forces are a viable target.

AF SMSgt behind the wheel of RG-31 MRAP.

Our mounted patrol consisted of a combination of MRAPs and HMMVWs.  The newly promoted AF SMSgt would be my driver and I was resigned to sit in the back as a passenger.  This would be another opportunity to see the city from a different angle instead of the windshield perspective.  As we drove through the city,

Kabul city market.

shopkeepers were opening up their stores while merchants set up tables or plastic cloths displaying their wares.  Despite the cooler weather, the market area is still crowded with people purchasing food, clothing, and textiles.  I did make a disturbing observation and my teammate agreed with me too.  We are seeing more and more women

Afghan woman wearing burqa.

wearing burqas throughout the capital city.  Previously we saw more women wearing the Hajib veil instead of the repressive burqa.  Now this could be a coincidence because the burqa is effective in combating the cold temperature or more women are succumbing to the peer pressure and wearing this restrictive garment.

Fortunately for me the eye doctor is a specialist and was able to quickly identify my ailment.  He is supposedly the only ophthalmologist in the entire country for the US military.  He prescribed some steroid eye drops and gave me 48 hours before I could resume wearing my contact lenses.  I haven’t worn glasses this long of a period of time since high school and the “Clark Kent” look isn’t too becoming.

Afghan man on a bicycle.

My team took care of business and we departed Camp Phoenix rather late in the day.  Traffic was a nightmare and there was nothing we could do except creep along with the flow of traffic.  On one route, the traffic became so entangled we inched along for over an hour and a half until we could free ourselves from the snarl.  The root of the

Downtown traffic in Kabul.

traffic problems is lack of traffic control, medians, impatient people, and drivers who just learned how to drive.  All of these factors equate to traffic chaos.  It doesn’t help matters the traffic cops are disregarded and disobeyed in their fruitless attempts to control the disorderly flow of vehicles.  I even witnessed a policeman taking what appeared to be a bribe from a vehicle driver.  The driver was dressed smartly in a suit and the traffic cop had out his ticket book.  But suddenly money exchanged hands and the policeman put the money in his pocket and walked away.  The vehicle owner crawled in his car and drove off.  Corruption….sigh…is a way of life here and intertwined with the cultural fabric of this country.

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5 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AllMilitaryNews. AllMilitaryNews said: (AFG: Last Tour) Trip to Eye Doctor and Traffic Snarl: The past several days I have been penned up in my room … http://bit.ly/5E08dl #SOT […]

  2. Rex i don’t think it’s age at all.it’s a fact that more of are troops are reporting hurt ankles,bad knees,an backs,sore body parts. from all the stuff they carry. body armor,ammo,weapon. it takes a toll. as for the burga seen more.? maybe more Taliban around.

  3. I’m married to that crazy Army Sgt. Major! What a great surprise to find him making an appearance here. I’m so glad to see the photos and read about all the good work you are all doing. Hope your eye is feeling better. You guys take care of each other and tell the SGM that we love & miss him!

  4. The news is reporting new attacks in Kabul this morning. Maybe the burqa wearers knew something was coming.

    Keep safe.

  5. […] the rest here: Trip to Eye Doctor and Traffic Snarl « Afghanistan My Last Tour Share and […]

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