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4388Livin in my own private Idaho

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  • John Patten
    Oct 1, 2004
      Hey folks,

      I'm in Kandahar at my new job. Thought I would pass
      along the update I sent to my family if you are
      interested. Too bad I missed that reunion! JP

      Hi everyone,

      Greetings from Kandahar, spiritual home of the
      Taliban. Everything is here, hope you are beautiful.
      I�ve already gained five pounds, but just from dust in
      my lungs. I�m a Field Officer at the Kandahar
      Provincial Reconstruction Team with USAID. It�s kind
      of like Peace Corps with lots and lots of heavy

      We finally got here after waiting a day for Force
      Protection to pick us up from KAF (Kandahar Air Field)
      where we stayed with CTF Bronco, the Taliban hunters.
      We had no gear or blankets and stayed in an icy tent
      awake most of the night. I used to complain about the
      dogs in South Africa keeping me awake, but because
      you�re given back karma in small doses sometimes, my
      tent was right next to the massive helicopter gunship
      and Chinook field. All night long it was like the
      airlift out of Saigon in the last days there. My
      dreams were like a Pink Floyd movie.

      I have a secret clearance now and am routinely in
      classified discussions and see classified documents.
      Since all communications are monitored on both sides,
      it seems odd I have to say there are many things I
      can�t tell you, it sounds pretentious. But in lieu of
      that, I put together a small list to answer some
      FAQ�s. Please ask any question and one of the six
      should cover it.

      1. Sometimes, but only when absolutely necessary.
      2. If I knew that we wouldn�t have to be here.
      3. I ask what would Jesus do?
      4. I ask what would Jackie Gleason do?
      5. 42.
      6. It�s certainly not one of my favorites.

      The PRT itself is actually an old factory. I don�t
      have a bed or a desk yet until the old guy leaves
      Sunday, but I think my room used to be storage judging
      by the bare concrete walls. Mostly military live here,
      with lots of towers and barbed wire and bunkers, but
      also a few of us civilians from various big donor
      agencies. There�s a lot to tell there for future
      correspondence. There is even a roving minister that
      showed up for mass in armoured vehicles. I thought
      Robo-Pope was going to get out (�You are violation of
      John 3:16�). But all in all it�s home for awhile. It�s
      just hard to breath through the dust.

      We�re starting to get outside the wire more, but are
      waiting again until after the Oct 9th election as
      there is a big final push by the opposite side to bomb
      stuff and wreak general havoc, which is happening
      everyday, but we�re ok and well protected. They�re
      trying hard to disrupt the election, so be warned that
      coordinated attacks are most likely to happen. If
      people vote normally and support the government, then
      the Taliban will become irrelevant in the eyes of the
      population, which is what they are trying to prevent.
      The Taliban are a bit wussy actually when it comes to
      direct confrontation, so we have to look out more for
      IEDs and such. We went on a mission deep into
      Arghistan the other day with five vehicles and were
      fine, although some of the guys could �smell the
      Taliban,� judging by where the elders said we should
      quit. Actually, a lot of conflict is tribal, but will
      often be attributed in the news to Taliban instead.
      Figuring out the players and who is manipulating who
      is a big issue for program implementation. But we�re
      going where other people do not because that�s where
      the change in the political situation will occur if
      people come on board and improve these districts. It
      was the anniversary of the Taliban taking over
      Afghanistan and I had strept throat, but there was no
      way I was not getting on that convoy. Good, but
      different photos this time. It was very
      testosternoney. But a lot of the guys are pretty
      switched on and we�re trying to view this PRT as a
      team. I can handle it.

      Please write when you can. I have slightly better
      email access than last time, but remember, send NO
      attachments of any kind due to the very slow
      downloads. No baby photos, no joke of the day, no
      forwards to seven friends in order that you might
      receive a miracle when in reality they are just trying
      to put your friends on spam lists, no political links,
      and especially no cute human interest photos of a
      farmer in Des Moines who grew a rutabaga that looks
      like the latest offering from Volkswagen, or his dog
      that displays human traits.

      My lovely wife is now going into her 2nd trimester and
      doing very well. With all the other things to deal
      with she decided morning sickness was something she
      decided not to do, so all is going smoothly. I should
      see her in December and then again for the birth in
      late March.

      If you want to write to me directly, the best way is :

      John Patten
      Kandahar PRT
      APO AE 09355

      Hope all is well where you are, and don�t worry much.
      I fully expect to walk through the door at home a year
      from now.


      �The less people know, the more stubbornly they know
      it. The intelligent person hesitates, ponders, wavers.
      The unintelligent person never wavers, never
      hesitates. Where the wise will whisper, the fool
      simply declares from the rooftops.�
      From Buddhist book I saw in South Africa.

      So why is there so much talk of waffling on all sides?

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