Local Army officer describes conditions in Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan –
Army LTC Jeff Price, of Marlinton, is currently on duty in Kabul, Afghanistan. Price describes conditions in the capitol city.
“A fairly good size,” he said. “I can’t remember, a couple million folks, I can’t remember how many. We’re kind of sitting in a bowl here, so the pollution is real bad in the wintertime and like, right now, the air quality is not that well. When I came here in the end of April, you could see snow in the mountains and you could actually see snow up to almost about July in the mountains. Of course now, with the smog, you can’t see the mountains that well.
“Here, in the capitol, there are paved roads, but you cut off on the side roads and they’re dirt roads. But, you know, it’s a very poor country. You see a lot of kids and a lot of vehicles over here in the city. I guess it’s kind of growing with vehicles. One minute, you’ll pass a new Toyota truck, will be passing you and a new office building and you go down the road and you’ll see, you know, a junkyard and you’ll see goats and cattle and stuff like that.”
Price says friendly Afghan forces have helped improve security in Kabul.
“There’s attacks throughout the country,” he said. “Here in this region, which we call RCE, Regional Command East, which includes the capitol here, every other week or so, there’s different attacks throughout this region. Actually, since I’ve been here, in the last several months, the security inside the capitol, the city here, is actually doing real well. You still have those limited attacks but the Afghan military and police are doing a good job at preventing those.”
The Army put Price in charge of planning operations with other countries.
“I get outside the wire, if you’d have it, outside the fence, probably at least once a week,” he said. “More than I should, but not as much as I want to, if you know what I’m saying. But the reason I go off post, I go to a lot of meetings over at the International Security Force headquarters, where NATO troops are. I’ll go over there, average once a week, go over and work with the NATO troops, you know, troops from different countries, on different projects we’re working on. In the last couple days, I’ve went over to different bases within this area.”
Price enjoys working with foreign officers, but says they’re hard to understand.
“They’re all very nice,” he said. For the most part, we all get along. Everyone’s moving in the same direction. Sometimes, just understanding them, you know, because they all speak English. They accuse me of having an accent, but I also think they got one, but they’re real good officers to deal with.”
The officer says morale is high among his military comrades.
“Obviously, everyone’s got a different opinion about it, but I think the majority of people feel that we are contributing to the success and safety of this country and the safety of our own country,” he said. “Every day, you see the Afghans stepping up and taking more and more responsibility. Obviously, there’s speed bumps, if you’d have it, but I have not met anyone over here who is discouraged about being here or the mission.
“Of course, we all miss our families and miss home-cooked meals, even though the food is good here. As you know, after eating in a chow hall three times a day, you kind of get tired of the food.”
The colonel says front line troops are still making the ultimate sacrifice.
“At our level, we’re doing staff work, as you know,” he said. “We’re not the soldiers or marines who are out on the ground patrolling. Those are the guys who’ve got it hard. We don’t have it too bad in our location. When I spent that night down in Kandahar – that’s one of the hot spots down there – that’s where the 82nd Airborne and the Marines are. About every night down there you hear mortar fire and those rockets going off.
“There’s a lot of progress going on in this country. I would like to say that every day, if not every other day, we lose great Americans over here. They get killed in action by direct fire or IEDs [improvised explosive devices].”
Anyone who wishes to write to LTC Price should call Donna Price at 304-799-4010 to get the address.