|Winter wheat in the Khowst bowl is flourishing as the recent March warmup interacts with January and February rains|
Perhaps it's the fact that I've managed to escape the past three Indiana winters, or better yet- the reality that the Khowst Province sits at an elevation of 6,000ft. Regardless, I can't say that I've ever seen such a rapid transition in temperatures.
Throughout the month of March, the mercury has been on the rise here around FOB Salerno. While I would hardly classify the conditions we experienced from December-early March as "winterlike", the rate at which we've seen temperatures increase has been quite dramatic. In the course of just several days, three at most, perspiration levels skyrocketed as the mid-to-low 50 degree temperatures we've all grown accustomed to suddenly shot up into the mid-80's.
This increase in temperature, coupled with scattered rain showers over the past month and half, has resulted in a drastic change of the landscape here in Khowst. A recent mission to a location utilized as a provincial observation center provided a great vantage point of this greening.
Weather is not the only thing changing around here, it seems change is in the air. In my short 27 years on this earth, I struggle to recall a moment in history when so much was going on across the globe. From the horrid chain of events in Japan, unrest across the string of Arab nations, and even the chaos ensuing in Statehouses across the midwest; Fox News and CNN have had plenty to cover in the past month or so.
|Soldiers from the Afghan National Army continue to accompany our convoys|
on nearly every mission, hopefully taking home some valuable lessons learned.
A quick scan of the news coming out of Afghanistan is likely to bring up two key topics, the first of these being "civilian casualties" and the second "transition". While the first is a tragic and unfortunately all too common side effect of war, the second inspires that there might be light at the end of this tunnel that United States servicemembers have been traveling for the better part of a decade.
Commanders and public affairs professionals throughout the Afghan theatre have recently been instructed on the principles and conditions guiding a future transition. The key takeaway from these multi-paged documents is that any transition will be "conditions based" rather than implementation based on any timelines. However, many experts or even critics predict a dramatic reduction in troop levels well in advance of the 2012 election.
What does the future of Afghanistan look like? Well, that's a several billion dollar question... From a security standpoint, Afghan National Security Forces or ANSF (think a combination of US law enforcement and military components) would be capable of defending their own country. Currently, at least one ANSF vehicle accompanies every US and NATO convoy that leaves an installation. While US forces are conducting their standard operations here, a mentorship opportunity is simultaneously taking place.
|Specialist Cadel Crowl and I surveying the landscape from atop the provincial observation point, the Khowst OCCP. Cadel is originally from Angola, Indiana and is currently studying Agricultural Education at Purdue University. Ironically enough, he and I also found that we have some distant relatives back in NE Indiana.|