Trip to Gardez, 3-4 April 2005
Driving in Kabul
Leaving Kabul
On to Gardez
Gardez Camps
Sp Forces
Random Thoughts


Leaving Kabul

After about 20 minutes into our detour, we were back on our intended route, heading due south toward Gardez.  

This was the first time Id been south of Kabul at all. While Id driven some in the city, my trips past the city limits had mostly been to the east at Pul-i-Charkhi and north to Bagram Air Base, the latter a 2-hour drive north over a deplorable road and through an arid countryside. This road to Gardez showed a different Afghanistan, running past a river, with trees (!) and countless plots of land being farmed.  

Most of the plots were small, tennis court size or less, irregularly shaped to fit wherever possible, with higher footpaths between them. This early in April, it looked like they were growing a lush green grass. In Thailand Id have guessed rice; here, probably wheat. I saw only two small tractors the whole trip. Field work, like almost all work here, is done by hand.  

About an hour later the road passed through the town of Logar, shops lining its length. Obai warned us to stay especially alert in Logar, and to drive through it quickly. Only 23, Obai had seen more combat than most American soldiers. He had secretly studied English as a teenager, dangerous under the Taliban, enabling him to get hired as an interpreter when we Americans arrived. He had worked with the US Special Forces two and three years ago when the fighting was fierce, joining in their combat operations. Though attacks on our forces were now infrequent in most areas, Obai worried about our drive through Logar. Our small convoy could be cell-phoned ahead to accomplices setting an IED or ambush.  

Three weeks after this trip, I happened to pick up The Other Side of the Mountain, a book commissioned by the US Marine Corps to help learn from the Russian experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The book collects first-hand mujahadin accounts of ambushes, raids and battles.  

The very first two battles described in the book were ambushes of Russian convoys, in Logar, on the very same road we traveled.


next: Roads in Afghanistan