I feel the need to insert a brief(ish) note to address the fact that I have not actually told you (dear reader) just where in Afghanistan I'm going, or what I'm doing - sooooo...
As you have likely heard, the military forces in Afghanistan are a coalition, which means there are soldiers from the usual places, UK, Canada, France, Germany etc. and also from some less traditional sources, like Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and South Korea. In some cases they also send civilian/diplomatic folks like me, often together with development experts to form what we call a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), which attempts to assist the provincial level officials of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (aka GIRoA) in their duties. These non-US led PRTs typically have at least a small liaison group from the U.S. military and usually one or more civilians with a similar function in promoting good governance and development.
I had the good fortune to be selected to join a small group of Americans who live and work together with the South Korean led PRT about an hour north of Kabul which began working with the province of Parwan over the summer of 2010, and has a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Charikar (the capital of Parwan).
My assignment was made almost a year ago but I wanted to check in with my hosts first to see if there were sensitivities among my new colleagues before blogging about life here. There are, but they acquiesced when I promised not to reveal state secrets about methods of kimchi production, report how many more pullups the Korean soldiers do than their US counterparts, or provide the precise geocoordinates to the tightly guarded (and very substantial) stash of Cocoa Puffs on base.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming: