Did I mention it was dusty?
The weather turned last night. Somewhere around ď0-Dark Thirty,Ē thatís middle of the night for civilians, a windstorm blew in. The wind howled all night and into the morning. When Jack, my dog, got me up to go outside I found almost a ľ inch of dust on the floor of my room. There was also a gritty feel and taste in my mouth from all the dust in the air. This was inside. Opening the door just a little resulted in it being ripped open and slamming against the wall by the wind.
Remember those old movies of the travelers in the desert hunched forward against the dust and wind? Well, that is a pretty good picture of conditions here today. Venturing outside, I mean dogs DO have to go outside, was an adventure in itself. Jack was none too happy about the wind and dust but necessity or nature calls and he had to bear it. Some things canít be rushed but neither he nor I wanted to be out in this stuff.
Visibility was nil. The fence around our compound was invisible and Jack disappeared at the end of the 30 foot leash. Sort of like the invisible dog. All I could see was his leash going into a wall of dust. Soon he came romping back in a way that told me he had taken care of his business. No playtime as normal this morning. He ran right past me and headed for our room door. At least he knew where it was. I just followed.
As luck would have it, I was not scheduled for the Entry Control Point, (ECP) today and I honestly felt bad for the handlers and their dogs that were. It was simply miserable. Around 0900 I notified the rest of the handlers that training had been cancelled for the day due to weather. No Fooling! Actually there was another word I wanted to put in here, but this is in the paper so I opted for the kinder gentler version.
It was so bad that I opted not to take meals today at the dining facility. Iím sure everything would taste of dust anyway and I have plenty here in the room thanks to my wife Katherine and her care packages.
I was scheduled to be on a Blackhawk today but that was scrubbed. Nothing was flying unless it was an emergency and those folks fly those missions when needed, regardless. Communications were also down due to the weather. Even AFN (Armed Forces Network) was out. I found out later that the main broadcast AFN antenna had actually snapped in the wind and was in pieces on the ground.
Back in my room I could hear the howling outside and could actually see the dust in the air INSIDE the room. What a mess. Like just about everyone these days, I have the normal electronics. My laptop, printer, shaver, and everything else in the room were covered in a fine tan talcum powder-like layer. Vacuuming, yes I have a vacuum, just made it worse. My camera, luckily, is waterproof and therefore dustproof. That was a suggestion from a retired Air Force Colonel who probably spent more time than he would have liked in these types of conditions.
Now I know there are dust storms there at home. When there is a dry season it is even worse but nothing like here. There isnít a tree or bush for miles. All rock and dust, dust, and more dust.
This is just something the soldiers and people in Iraq and now Afghanistan had and have to deal with. Nothing new but it is a P.I.T.A. Iíll let you figure that one out on your own.
From under a cloud of dust in Afghanistan,
Iím Jon Harris and this has been a
Dispatch From (cough) Downrange