From Kandahar, Afghanistan: 90% Boredom, 10% Excitement

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Each day melts into the other. There is no sense of what day of the week it is or even what the date is. Being on duty 7 days a week causes you to lose all sense of time and each day is the same as the last. Regular access to the news (except through the web) or marking what day it is by what television show is on is not a luxury here. Although the work changes and the priorities are constantly in flux, everyday feels like a Monday. For your own sanity it is good to mark each week by celebrating a Friday or the weekend, knowing that you have completed one more week. Thankfully, however, the weeks do go by quickly. In no time a week is over and you’re celebrating Friday again. We get the CBC Radio broadcast here (when it works) and it is nice to hear the shows I am familiar with on the weekends to remind me of the days at home when I enjoyed the Saturday and Sunday off. An average routine for me see me rising early in the morning, put my uniform on have breakfast and report for my shift by 8 AM. The day’s activities involve various aspects of military work, dealing with any issues that need to be resolved quickly and planning for things in the future. My shift is usually over by 8 PM…every day, 7 days a week for several months. When working these hours with others and in close quarters, there is bound to be friction and personality conflicts. Luckily these have been at a minimum for me, but it is part of the experience that is a military tour of duty and I have learned from it. After work I have dinner and there is usually a line up at the dining facility. After dinner I return to the barracks for 2 or 3 hours to unwind before having to sleep. Laundry has to be sent out every few days so you have enough uniforms, socks, t-shirts etc… to wear over the next week. You have to fill out sheets that indicate what articles of clothing you are including in your laundry bag and this also becomes part of the monotony of a routine. The laundry service is quite good and the turn around is only 2-3 days, and your clothes come back neatly folded.

The weather in Kandahar has been quite stable with a slight dip in temperature in July, and now there is significant haze and dust in the air. It is a nice respite as it blocks out the sun and the temperature today was very tolerable – even cool by recent standards. Around this time of the season temperatures are supposed to start decreasing, and I am looking forward to the mid-20’s in a few months. The summer time is often referred to as the “fighting-season” when insurgent activity increases. This seems to have been the case this summer too.

Recently the camp was ground attacked again. This time 10 insurgents attacked with 2 rockets that impacted in the camp (I heard the explosions not too far away) and at the perimeter wire with a tractor-borne improvised explosive device which breached the wire and 2-3 suicide bombers ran in. These bombers either detonated early causing no friendly casualties, or were shot before they came any further. Various rocket propelled grenades and machine guns where fired into the camp, but beyond that it was nothing substantial. I heard the rocket alarm at about 10am, which was unusual as most rocket attacks are in the evening (earlier that morning at about 7am another rocket had been launched into camp as well). At this point in our deployment we are getting complacent about these attacks and didn’t think much of it. When the second rocket alarm sounded a few minutes later we started to think that something was up. Because the first rocket impacted within hearing distance, I went to see if I could see any smoke or indication of where the rocket may have landed but didn’t see anything. A few minutes later the ground attack alarm sounded. We all got a little excited at this because life on camp is usually pretty uneventful. We then adopted increased protective measures so we all had to get our gear: flak jacket, helmet, rifle etc… A few of us were concerned that the dining facility would be closed with lunch approaching. After I put on my equipment a friend and I went to the dining facility to check if it was open and luckily it was. There were few people at the facility so there was no line up and we quickly got our food. Periodically the ground attack alarm would sound. I had a chicken-pot pie with corn fully dressed in a flak jacket and helmet, rifle on the chair beside me. After lunch we returned to our compound to await further direction and see what was happening with the ground attack. Word came down that the threat was now neutralized and the attack was stopped, so we were able to stop wearing all our gear. This little buzz of activity was a nice break to the usually monotony, so I welcomed it.

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