FOB Bullard – Shah Joy, Afghanistan

As you enter FOB Bullard you’re welcomed with a sign that reads ‘ OB B llard’. A Soldier somewhere has a good story behind why he, or she, but probably he has an F and a U hanging on the wall in his living room.

I’ve been on Bullard for 3 days now. It’s a small forward operating base. Like the other bases I’ve been on it is dusty, gritty, rocky and busy. Unlike the other bases I’ve been on this one is run by Romanians.

Before I got here I was told by the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers making up ZADT at FOB Apache that the Romanians like meat. I haven’t been brave enough to give it shot yet but they often serve ‘hunk ‘o meat’ for lunch, and dinner. Last night there was a smorgasbord of mammal on display. Hot dogs, bacon, poultry of some sort, and chicken in nugget-form. I saw a Romanian soldier wrapping bacon around a hot dog. I’ll try it when I get home. An risky experiment like that is best not pulled off at a Romanian-run chow hall.

I stuck with the poultry, I think it’s a turkey leg, but I’m not totally sure. I’m confused about the species I was eating because although it tasted and had the consistency of dark turkey meat the bone wasn’t that of a turkey leg. Whatever it was it was, and with the help of Frank’s hot sauce, it was good. For filler I had a Wonder Bread, margarine and honey sandwich. No one is going to go hungry on this base, and I am thankful for the food I have access to; however, when I get home some fresh fruits and vegetables are in order.

My favorite time of day on base is right now. At 4:30 I shimmied out of my top bunk, trying hard not to wake up Ray, the Interpreter. Ray is an American citizen so he lives with the Troops. I heard, what I think was, a call-to-prayer so I decided it was time to hit it. The walk from the tent to the MWR is about 150 meters. At night it is bottom-of-the-ocean dark. The mini-flashlight I stole from my daughter is all but completely useless against this darkness. In the morning however the moon lights the way. An Afghan moon isn’t any more impressive than a Minnesota moon, the stars are a different story. With no light pollution and 6,000 feet of elevation Orion’s Belt, the Big Dipper, and all of the others are brilliant.

The base will wake up in a few hours; the rooster continually crowing from somewhere off-base is trying his best, but the drone of generators drowns him out. This time of day is equivalent to my morning coffee and newspaper time at home. A chance to gather some thoughts, listen to music (today it’s The Black Keys) and see what’s going on in the world.

I’m not completely sure what today will bring, no one is, but it’s off to a good start.


Peering in through the MWR tent this is the first light I see each day on FOB Bullard.

morning face

Morning face


Chow line at Bullard


Exterior of FOB Bullard. Hesco blast barriers, rocks and mountains.

razor wire

Obligatory razor wire shot

razor two

Obligatory razor wire shot, take two


Army soldiers playing touch football on some ankle-rolling rocks. Grass? Who needs it?


Who needs a cube? I'm able to edit photos and look at video from pretty much anywhere. Technology is amazing.

kickin it

Ignore all of my bitching about the food. Life at Bullard can really have some nice moments. Now where's that Lake?