Local Army officer on-duty in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan – Army LTC Jeff Price, of Marlinton, is currently on-duty in Kabul, Afghanistan, working on the mission to defeat terrorist forces and restore peace to the beleaguered Asian country.
A joint headquarters commands a force which includes multiple branches of service, such as the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy and often, allied forces. A military headquarters is divided into four primary functional areas, operations, intelligence, logistics and personnel – commonly referred to as “shops.” The operations shop, designated the J-3 in a joint headquarters, manages day-to-day operations, plans future missions and is normally the busiest shop in the headquarters. Only the most highly-capable officers and NCOs are assigned to the J-3 /operations shop.
LTC Price called the Frost studio Thursday afternoon and reported that he is assigned to the highest-level American headquarters in Afghanistan.
“I’m assigned to the U.S. Forces Afghanistan headquarters, which is General Allen’s headquarters here in Kabul, Afghanistan,” he said. “I’ve been here since the end of April. In my office, I work in the J-3, operations. All four services are represented – Marines, Navy, Air Force and, of course, Army. My position in the branch I’m in is future operations. So, we’re looking at stuff anywhere from 30 days to six months out. I’m at the New Kabul Compound – NKC. There’s about 1,100 soldiers, airmen and marines here. We do have a lot of DA civilians, contractors and Canadians here.”
Price traversed most of eastern Afghanistan to get to his post in Kabul.
“Actually, on my birthday, April 30th, is when I left Kuwait to fly over to Afghanistan,” he said. “We got lucky. They said, ‘well, we got a C-130 going from Kuwait over to Kabul. They have that once a week and we have about 15 of you on this flight.’ Well, you know how dependable aircraft are – C-130. So, we sit on the tarmac at Kuwait for like eight hours waiting to get on this aircraft. Well, we finally got a different one and we flew over, but they re-missioned the aircraft, because we had a Navy admiral get on, and took us down to Kandahar. We got to Kandahar about 11:30 at night.
“Well, we got to Kandahar and the Air Force just dropped us off there and there’s like 14 of us, that were on our own to get from there here to Kabul.”
From Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, Price caught a flight to a U.S. base at Bak, near the Pakistan border and still more than 100 miles from his destination.
“The next day we caught a flight up to Bak,” he said. And then from Bak, they closed down the air strip after we got up there. At the time, we didn’t know why, but the reason was May 1 was when the President came over for a visit and, of course, they shut stuff down and tighten security up. Couldn’t get a flight out. So, we ended up taking a convoy and we traveled about two hours to get down here to the capitol.”
Price had to deal with a less-than-efficient bureaucracy to get to his post at New Kabul Compound.
“I ended up at a base only about three-quarters of a mile from the base I’m at right now,” he said. “There’s 14 of us and 10 of us is supposed to be there. So, they check in – ‘yeah, I got your name, you’re good to go’ – and they came to four of us and they’re like – ‘we don’t have our name in the system.’ And we’re like, ‘well, I don’t think we’re supposed to be here, we supposed to be over at the place called NKC.’ And they’re like, ‘well, we don’t have you in the system, we’re going to have to send you home. They’ve off-ramped your position.’
“For two days, I was stuck over there trying to tell the staff sergeant, ‘We’re supposed to go to NKC. Can’t you call the personnel person over at NKC?’
‘No, we don’t have the phone number.’
“Any way, I took it upon myself. I went to the mayor’s cell, which is actually the place that runs the base. I ran into a major and he called over here. Within five minutes, over here, they’re calling me back going, ‘hey, we wondered where in the heck you been.'”