Thursday, May 16, 2013

Month 9 Day 16

Notebook Entry
No fuel, tow arrangements, Romanians lead, chains, burned out clutch, snapped cable, flipped trucks, stop for water, stop Kandak to run back, flipped high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, Afghan national Army support, combined task force Zabul not providing support, $1 million lesson, get high while waiting.

Journal Entry
We rolled out in the morning pretty tired. We were still having mechanical difficulties with the trucks that we have. 
We moved from Camp Apache to camp Eagle. The ana did not get enough fuel over the night from the Qalat Brigade, so he had to take them back to apache to refuel.  I took some photos while we were waiting of the crazy towing arrangements that the ana were using.  My favorite was the wrecker that was lifting a dump truck, but didn’t move the boom, so it broke the window, but there were also log chains linking a couple of the vics.  The marines gave the ana a couple of mrap tow cables so that they could keep their stuff going. 
We left the gate and a while we were still in sight of the base the tow cable on one of the dump trucks pulling another dump truck snapped.  These things were rated to tow mraps which weight 24,000 lbs. the reason it snapped was th way these guys were driving, dropping the clutch slamming the breaks etc.  hell half of the dup trucks that were being towed were running because the guys liked the a/c but they were not driveable because the clutch was worn out.
The major convinced the kandak commander to send the trucks back because the marines were out of tow cables and straps, the ana had broken them all (my vic had jut linked up our second to last one) We had one left that we would need if any of our trucks broke down.  While we waited for the convoy to get going a truck pulled up on my left and stopped the whole convoy behind him.  He came up to me in the VC seat and asked if I had any water “AUW, AUW, SHUMAH MEKHAHEE AUW, BASEE SHUMA 2 KILOMETERS PESH AST WA SHUMA AUW MEKHWAHEE” [Water, Water, you want water? We passed your base 2 kilometers and you want water!!] he got the hint from my  screaming at him that I was not happy and that he shouldn’t stop the whole convoy to ask me for water when his base when we only left his base an hour ago.
We moved another 2 miles own the road and saw the wrecker/dump truck combo on their side in a ditch.  There was a fork lift out there like it was going to flip them back upright. We waited around until the kandak commander called another wrecker from the base we just left to right the two vics and tow them back.
We told the Romanians to push on, and they were nearly at the link-up point with the us army at this time.  We sped ahead and didn’t see any more crashes for a while, we did see why some of the trucks had flipped, we were doing 40 Mph on a road that could probably only handle 30Mph and the ANA were passing us.
Things were going pretty well we did a good handoff with the US army, they kept the head section going while we were still catching up with the key leadership.  It all seemed pretty good until the kandak commander told us that one of his trucks had flipped and a couple of his guys were hurt.  We stopped on the side of the road at a small compound with some kids and a Kuchi family across the street.  While we were there the marines passed out some MREs and some candy to the kids.  It was all pretty good-natured. We were far away from anything surrounded by wheat fields.  A few afghans prayed, the marines played with the kids. The doc had to open an MRE for an old man (he was probably 45) who was too weak to do it for himself.
The us army delivered the main body to the base and we asked that they come back and start policing up the wreckage from the front while we did it from the back.  They said ok they already knew of one traffic accident and were going to check it out.
They picked up a few vics and returned to base with them, needing more fuel. 
We were tired of waiting for the ana to solve their own problems so we went back to the sight of the rollover that we somehow missed probably because the guy rolled into a ravine.  The ana wrecker had managed to pull him up onto the road and put it on its wheels but that front right tire was so bent that it was untowable and the camber of the back right tire was all screwed up so it probably couldn’t have its front wheels lifted an be towed that way. The wrecker wasn’t able to lift is because the brand new truck had no hydraulic fluid.
I called into CTF Zabul for support.  They said they were in the middle of a RIP and that they didn’t have any assets to support us.  Our escorts confidently relayed the message that Lt Yunis was coming back to help with another wrecker and6 vics. Oh yay we’re saved I thought.  CTF Zabul got wind of this and didn’t want to send anything, but I told them about the $1million lesson that the ANA had from this morning and they relented.  We were waiting for a couple of hours and the major was audiby contenplatin leavin the truck an telling the battlespace owners to come back and deal with it with EOD. I linked up the guys with the wrecker with our escorts so that they could move to our position.  He tried to get the RCT involved to push from RC(SW) the problem is that CTF Zabul is an Army Brigade (therefore brigadier general) command.  What is the RCT going to do, push it to RC(SW) and then laterally to RC(S).  They wouldn’t give a shit either, they would probably just tell us to be patient . basically he was asking General Petraus to get involved and that seems a little unlikely. Oh well, he has faith in rank.
The marines I posted on the hill next to us for security smelled hash and bitched out the ana for getting high and dancing on their trucks while they should have been on post.  I told the major he told their company commander and they were reprimanded, we suggested that they may no have as many accidents if they weren’t high while driving.
Yunis showed up and to our pleasant surprise he was able to rig up the HMMWV with the help of the Marines. 
The Afghans who had learned nothing from the entire experience it seems went tearing away at high speeds. It was about as fast as we went the entire trip, 50 Mph.  we were trying to keep up because the way to Camp Hero(ana) and Lindsay (cf) was supposed to be somewhat tricky. It didn’t seem to be that way at first, but after we dropped the ana off we tried to make it over to Lindsay and went to a tiny special forces baseinstead, had to turn around and work on it again.  All in all it confirmed what we had always thought about Qandahar, what a mess.

We finally found the right spot secured billeting, downloaded some of the gear and put the trucks into maintenance.

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