Friday, 11 June 2010


Yesterday we had an afternoon shower that left a rainbow over the valley; altho this picture doesn't quiet do it justice...

Half way point

The 4th of June marked the halfway point in my assignment to Afghanistan. I feel like I should say something profound, so I'll quote Confucius:

If you want to plan ahead for one year, plant rice;
if you want to plan ahead for ten years, plant trees;
if you want to plan ahead for 100 year, educate the children.

Thanks to everyone who has provided support through the marvelous means of electronic communications; your messages and jokes and facebook comments are real day brightners!

Nothing escapes the Afghans' desire to "jingle" - including their tractors. Altho its hard to see, here's a picture of one that has been decorated with fringes, wrappings, etc.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Wheat harvest

The wheat harvest was completed in late May and early June, and corn planting will begin in the second half of June. According to most of the people I've talked to the wheat crop was pretty good this year. Last year they had more rain and problems with rust while this year the lower amount of rainfall led to a healthier crop. The wheat is harvested manually using hand held scythes, shocked, dried, and then threshed. I did see a couple of PTO threshing machines, like the one pictured here. The harvested grain is then piled into plastic bags, taken home and stored.


Many of the influential Afghans from the area were invited to the RIP TOA ceremony as well; they came bearing gifts for the old and new commanders - picoles, plastic flowers to ward off evil spirits, and beautiful full length felt coats. Haji Arif is pictured speaking for the Afghans, basically saying thank you for all your help and wishing success to the new unit. In the other pictures, LTC Pearl and Joe Ryan model their picoles and the coats.

Transfer of Authority

At the end of May the Lethal 2-12 Division ended their tour in Afghanistan, replaced by Bastogne 1-327. Altogether, the miltary men and women spend 9 - 12 months here on their tour of duty and then RIP-TOA (relief in place - transfer of authority). The completion of the entire process takes over a month as the two divisions move in / out. Towards the end of the process comes a formal transfer of authority ceremony, which was held here in the end of May. COL George, (a fellow Iowan and Brigade commander of 2-12) came to Blessing to participate along with his replacement, COL Pappas (from Wisconsin and a fellow Packer Backer, how can we get so lucky twice in a row?!) COL George is shown giving his farewell speech, with Blessing's outgoing commander, LTC Brian Pearl seated beside him. This is both a happy and sad event at the same time; saying good bye to the friends who have protected you from harm and you have worked with for 6 months - yet thrilled for their return home.