Whoís in charge here?
Oh, thatís right. Itís Me!
June in Afghanistan in my little part of the world brought big changes. I guess first on the list is how busy we became. Missions and more missions were the order of the day. The military dogs were completely tasked out so we picked up the slack. When I say June started off with a bang, it is not said in gist. Another FOB close to here was hit with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), how the Army loves acronyms. That was a big blast that hit the gate at that checkpoint. The explosion was followed up with a ground attack and several insurgents with suicide vests. The vests worked and they committed suicide. When we were notified, our location prepared to assist the other FOB if needed with medical help. Of course, our location went into high gear. Security, already tight, was redoubled. A few hours later the emergency was over. Good guys 14, bad guys 0. Not a bad score for those keeping track. We were all just thankful none of ours were lost.
Later that night we were hurriedly tasked to respond with a force protection contingent to search a vehicle that had been traveling where it shouldnít have been. That was a little hairy but it came off OK. As soon as that was finished we were contacted to search suspicious items at the gate. I elected not to take that one as it was the responsibility of a different type of unit. As far as I was concerned, the suspicious items could be searched with the judicious employment of high explosives, hey but thatís just me saying.
Yes, up until now the days here had been pretty quiet with the occasional rocket or IED attack, but for the most part, calm. Oh, and there was one other thing that happened that day. I took over the K-9 section here. Talk about a baptism of fire. Yes I have been put in charge of the contract dogs at the FOB. Health, feeding, employment, billeting, training, logistics, all now fall to me. It is a burden I welcome and enjoy.
As I sit in my room and work on paperwork getting things setup the way I want them, Jack is on the bed chewing on his toy. He seems to know Iím pretty busy and entertains himself leaving me to the keyboard for now.
The next few days were filled with administrative tasks as the command handover was completed and the natural adjustments to how it was, and how it is now started to take place, but the mission goes on however uninterrupted. Searching vehicles, packages, buildings, pathways, you name it, we search it.
I wasnít the only one going through changes. The units here are rotating out and the new group has just arrived. Fresh, capable, ready to do their job, the new units hit the ground running. It wasnít hours before the chaos that we have grown accustomed to as normal impacted the new units. Now understand, one doesnít leave and another show up cold. There is a well-practiced handover and familiarization period before the old unit leaves. It was during this handover time that we had been so busy.
Today, while I was at the front entry gate with one of my new handlers searching the pedestrian entryway, I was called to hurriedly return to the main gate. Seems the outgoing commander had something up his sleeve that I needed to assist with. I traveled the approximately Ĺ mile at a VERY slow jog with all my gear and a dog to see what was up. I donít mind saying that I was somewhat out of breath when I arrived. 8200 feet, 65 pounds of gear and 90 degrees will task the body regardless of how good, or bad, of shape you are in.
When I arrived the OIC (thatís Officer in Charge) met me and told me about an impromptu search on the guard force compound he wanted to make. He had developed Intel that there was some questionable activity going on within the guard force. These are not soldiers but local guards.
After a contingent of US security was in place, we, the OIC, several soldiers from the old and the new units and I entered the compound. It took only moments until Jack was pulling me to a water storage building. As he pulled, his nose was high in the air. I knew he had an odor and was tracking it in the wind. Fifty feet later he stopped at the rear corner of a little wood shack, he stuck his nose under the edge and immediately alerted. Jack has a habit of alerting by sitting, staring at the point of the odor and then if Iím not quick enough to reward him, he will turn and stare at me as to say, ďHey. Itís here. I did my part now do yours.Ē
I rewarded him by throwing him his toy and bent down to look at what he was so excited about. I had to push him away as he always tries to be in the same place I am trying to get to. Looking under the corner of the shack I could see a white plastic bag that was halfway covered with rocks. There was no dust on the bag so it couldnít have been there very long. I reached under the edge and pulled it out and pitched it to the OIC who was standing a few feet away with several other soldiers anxiously waiting to see what Jack had found.
The bag contained over a pound of Hashish. This was the largest find of hashish on the FOB that anyone could remember. It was a real good find. Jack was petted vigorously and the OIC took the bag to be processed. It was all in all a busy day but one with a pretty nice conclusion nevertheless.
Later that evening as I wrote up my report in the room Jack laid under the desk with one paw on my foot. I reached up and got a small dog treat from a bag and gave it to him. As he chewed the small piece of dog jerky I stroked his head and told him.
ďThatís a good boy!Ē
Still here in Afghanistan,
Iím Jon Harris and this has been another
Dispatch from Downrange.