Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What 2 Euros can buy

There was a choice of two types available under the glass knife counter in the Italian PX store here at the ISAF base at Kabul International Airport. The price difference was two Euros.

Unlike the US military bases in Afghanistan, here at the ISAF base, it is a different world. In so many respects and in attitude, it is like a little European Union and the US Military presence is minimal. We have spent a few days here working with the US Air Force who are training The Kite Flyers (Afghan Air Corps) as I called them the other day.

The commitment to the effort here in Afghanistan of International Forces to actually do anything beyond the wire and barriers is a source of annoyance and frustration. Publicly they cannot say anything critical of these nations. But in private their words are harsh. The base here at the International airport is small and the car park is full of brand new 4x4 SUV’s that have never left the base.

However in the face of adversity, here are some examples of how International troops have embraced their deployment and somehow forgotten what this war is about.

Luke and Orsy have arranged for Salsa lessons for beginner beginning December, twice a week.

There is the tabletop fussball competition beginning soon, and a tribute to Depeche Mode is upcoming. The Beauty Salon is doing a roaring trade and massages are available. Are you the smartest person on the base? well the Dutch have a Trivia Night coming up, then there is the Mini Soccer competition.

The Italian PX store has a range of coffee machines available, and the lack of dress sense they display in the Dining Facility can only make you laugh. Running trainers worn with a full Military uniform seems more than acceptable.

Is the stress too much for the Germans? have no fear in there PX store there are stress balls in the shape of a women’s breast available, to take the tension’s away.

Do you seek “Strength, Flexibility and Relaxation” then sign up for the COMBAT Yoga class, instead of a downward facing dog maybe the upward facing bayonet pose will appeal. Instead of the sound of relaxing Tibetan mantras over running waterfalls, the “Ride of the Valkeryie” will help soothe your spirit.

After all that there is of course the choice of which bar and restaurant you would prefer, Thai, Italian or maybe a cold beer in the “Air Force One Bar and Restaurant”. All troops with the exception of the US forces are free to drink alcohol. If an American is caught drinking then a dishonorable discharge is pending, whilst the Europeans sip chardonnay on the outside tables.

It is not unusual in the evening to see male and female soldiers walking hand in hand around the base, or sitting and looking at each other between a bunch of plastic flowers. Condoms are available readily, (but I should add that they are available in stores on US bases also) there though I think they are used more for keeping dust and dirt out of rifle barrels, well that’s what they say.

It beckons the question of how committed many of the foreign nation’s are to the cause. World leaders like to boast about a coalition and commitment to Afghanistan, the reality is that some countries commit a hand full of troops and then place such caveats on there deployment that the greatest danger they face is a parking ticket on a day to day basis.

Under the glass back at the Italian PX, was a pair of standard metal handcuffs. Plain sturdy and functional cost 7 Euros. Next to them was a pair of Pink Furry Love Handcuffs, a vital piece of Military Equipment in a war zone, cost 9 Euros.


21stCenturyMom said...

Wow - as is the case with almost everything you post about Afghanistan this one makes me want to weep.

About those German stress balls.... hmmm.. there was a thing on the news last night where a(U.S.) female soldier back from Iraq (and suffering PTSD) was saying that one of the biggest dangers facing US military women in Iraq is getting jumped and raped by male US soldiers as they go to use the bathrooms at night. Maybe objectifying women in a military setting is not such a great idea. I doubt allowing the men to drink would help. I wonder if the non US troops have the same problem. Any idea?

Anonymous said...

Dats funny! ok so the difference between being arrested or getting laid is €2 (y€s, I'm showing off).

great posts, comedy/trivia of life lived, observed + sentences like [cutpastesnip]: "The elite nasal senses of these vanguards of virtue can immediately smell alcohol and for a few dollars the young men can excuse themselves from their lack of moral willpower."

Anonymous said...

Tell it like it is Mal. So is anyone in this world serious about this war besides our boys over there and two or three news correspondents? Doesn't sound like it. Maybe the people that think it is okay, that this attitude is real cool, won't think it is so fine when these terrorists break loose in their back yards, and they will if they aren't stopped over there in that filthy part of the world. Thanks for being an honest man Mr. James. Thanks for reporting the truth about what is going on over there because we are fighting this war wherever we live now days, and if we aren't we are aiding and abeting the enemy. Your blogs are enjoyable but they are much more. They are needed to keep what is left of the free world free. For that we are grateful to you and we don't care who doesn't like us saying so. Hang in there Mal and Mr. Lewis.
Annie & Neatie