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Challenge of a lifetime

(For the original posting of this blog, click here.) 

KABUL | T-11 Days - Ken and I are about to embark on one of the greatest challenge of our lives. We're going out on a 30-day mission throughout Afghanistan and I'm personally not sure how it's going to pan out. At first, the idea was great, go out there and talk with Afghans and the soldiers and find out how this counter insurgency is going. I wanted to get some questions answered, such as how the pending troop build up around the country will be affecting the everyday service members on the ground, and how Gen. McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy has changed the playing field since it went into effect into July. 

Now that our plan has been approved, with surprising enthusiasm, the weight of this is on our shoulders. The basic idea is for Ken and I to race around every regional command in Afghanistan in 30 days. At first, this may seem pretty easy. Afghanistan is just a little bit smaller than Texas, and I’ve driven across Texas in less than a day. It won’t be that simple here, especially during the winter. Between each RC we will be taking helicopters or maybe some fixed wing aircraft. We will face delays and many nights waiting for space available flights that may or may not pick us up. From the main forward operating bases we’ll be taking convoys out to the areas we want to cover. While this mode of transportation is less affected by weather, the risks of improvised explosive devices and ambushes are far greater.

We need to get to those areas because that’s where the stories we want to cover are. We want to bring you to those areas with us and share the experience. We want to show you what life is like out there, not just for service members, but for the Afghans we’re all here to free from the grip of war. From past experience, I can tell you the lives of people here are hard. Sleeping in small rooms packed to the ceiling with cots and bunk beds with platoons of soldiers who haven’t showered in a week. But they’re here for a reason; they’re working for a greater good. A greater good I feel isn’t covered enough in the mass media. I want to answer the question, why are we doing this? Why are service members and civilians out there being killed, wounded and suffering miserable lives? And I want to cover it from an “average” perspective, talking about it in normal speak so everyone can see this war as those on the ground see it.

To tell this story, Ken will be uploading daily vlogs, and I will be providing the blogs and photos.  We’re going to try and stay off of each other’s toes as much as possible, because we both want to share as much Afghanistan as possible. While Ken’s goal will be to humanize the people, mine will be to humanize the conflict. But we’re not the only players in this project. The biggest player is you, the reader. This project will not work without your participation. For the next 30 days, we work for you. Please let us know of any questions you have and we’ll either answer them, or find the right people out here to answer them for you.

There’s another player here to, Senior Master Sgt. Jon Nicolussi. He’s the foundation of the team. He’s the one staying back and managing our travel, taking care of us and this Web site. You’ll see him many times responding, chatting and explaining what’s happening to us if we can’t get to Internet. He also has 24/7 communication with us and will be feeding us information from you and the Web site.

I have no delusions of grandeur. There’s no way the three of us can cover every complexity and contributing factor to this counter insurgency. But what we do know is that we can talk about them and try to shed a little bit of light on them.  I simply hope, over the next 30 days we’ll all be able to understand a little bit more about who Afghans are and why this war is so important to the international community.

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