An Afghan Morning

Thursday, April 12 started early in the morning.  My alarm went off at 4:10am.  I packed my gear and was out to meet Lt Fischer at 5:10.  We were on our way to FOB Bullard up in Shah Joy.  When we got there it we loaded up for a patrol to a village in Shah Joy.  We were back to base in time for lunch.

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Sunrise at FOB Apache looking out across the HLZ (Helicopter Landing Zone)

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We climbed aboard a Cobra.

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Flying in a helicopter provides an incredible view of the surrounding area. Along this route I saw more fertile land than I had in previous flights.

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We're on the board. The crew at FOB Bullard is expecting us.

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More from the air above south eastern Afghanistan

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When we arrived at the FOB prep began for a mission to a village in Shah Joy. Some sobering messages were delivered. Pressure plate IEDs...not bunching up while on patrol...looking for disturbed soil. SFC Brian McFadden discusses the mission.

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Lt Davin Fischer on his way to a Maxx Pro.

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Snapped a photo through the bars of the Maxx Pro. Here's a scene from the Shah Joy bazaar. Shah Joy is the largest city in Zabul Province; it is located right off of Highway 1. Shah Joy's population and location make it one of the less stable areas in the province.

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SFC Brian McFadden as he and the unit dismount and prepare for the foot patrol to the village.

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Children are held in very high-regard in Afghanistan. I'm told that having children around us is a good thing. Through a translator the children are asked us to bring us to the village Elders.

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The point of the foot patrol is to gather information about how the village farmers are doing. Questions are asked about their crops and whether they're interested in working with the Afghan government's Director of Ag, Irrigation and Land. (DAIL). If there was Taliban presence in this village the Elders would have dismissed the Troops and told them everything was 'just fine'.

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It was a lengthy meeting, perhaps an hour, tea was served. The ZADT gathered information about their crops & livestock which consisted of: alfalfa, almonds, chickens and a few cows.

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There were a lot of children around. SFC McFadden told me, "they are why we are doing this."

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We were back to the Maxx Pros and back on the FOB in time for lunch. Now that's what I call an exhilarating morning.

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