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Welcome to Mizan!
By Michael Fumento
FOB Lagman administers four other, smaller FOBs. Mizan is one of them. I wanted to come to this one because so far this year it's the only one that's gotten in a fight with the Taliban -- although that will change as more of the bad guys start coming over the mountain passes. It's about a 20-minute helo ride from Lagman; isolated in a sense but not really.
It's true that for a month they had no internet connection because lightning fried an antenna, but a techie came on the same helo I did and got it back up. Now he's my roommate until he can catch a flight out.
They have showers from water pumped in from a well dug two months ago, although it may dry up in a few months as the dry season continues and the water table drops. And -- woohoo! -- the water is heated. Foodwise, I was expecting little more than MREs but they usually have hot chow. It was pretty bad tonight, but I'm told that's by no means always the case.
My quarters are somewhat lacking in that they're a room that's really part of a hallway. So men tromp through constantly during the day and evening but when it's time for beddy bye they've pretty much stopped. Bathroom facilities are crude, as would be expected, but no big deal. You urinate into tubes dug into the ground and you do Number Two in an outhouse. The feces is then burned daily by some Afghans that were recently brought in.
That's the mistake the French made when fighting the Viet Minh. They built Dien Bien Phu in a valley, thinking the enemy couldn't bring artillery tubes up the sides of the mountain. Wrong! War over.
But the Taliban have nothing heavier than small mortars and RPGs that theoretically might reach the camp but are far beyond aiming range and in any case this place is well protected against incoming fire. I'm told the camp, which was begun by the 173rd Airborne, is far better than just a few months ago and I believe it. They're building here all day long.
I spent some time with the Afghans here, beginning when I was watching them burn the feces. That's always a great way to meet people. They invited me to their very nice quarters for some Chai tea. One spoke English passably well but another was an interpreter who came here from his home in California. He was, however, born in Afghanistan. They taught me some words in Pashtun and we discussed the war.
Pakistan will almost certainly continue to provide safe haven for the foreign Taliban. (By the way, one Taliban is a "Talib;" "Taliban" is the plural form.)
But to the extent the economy provides good-paying jobs to the locals they will be able to resist being paid to fight the coalition forces. The Taliban will probably always be able to offer tempting payments to fire at Coalition forces, but not necessarily enough to make it worth a Pashtun's life.
This is a truncated blog and I'll have more to write about Mizan; but I've got a computer ace now and am going to take advantage of it.
Later today I go into town and meet the locals. Should get some good stuff and pics.
Michael Fumento has paid for this trip entirely out of pocket, including roundtrip airfare to Kuwait, war insurance, and virtually all his gear. Please support him via PayPal Donate or Amazon Honor System via the logos below.