(Editor's Note: Bagram Air Base is located at the ancient city of Bagram in Parvan Afghansitan. BAF had a single 9852 ft runway built in 1976. However, the United States spent $68 million dollars building a new 2.2 mile (11,500 ft) long runway for the airbase, which was completed in late 2006. The new runway is 2000 feet longer than the older and is 11 inches thicker, which gives it the ability to handle larger aircraft if necessary. The newly-built runway is capable of serving large military and commercial aircraft. Bagram Air Base has three large hangars, a control tower, and numerous support buildings. There are over 32 acres of ramp space. There are five aircraft dispersal areas with a total of over 110 revettments. )
Right now I am at BAF, waiting to go on my Pass (that doesn't stand for anything). We are allowed a 4 day pass (basically some free time off) to go to Qatar for some R&R, so I am beginning that journey.
(Editor's Note: Here's are some interesting facts about Qatar: Expatriates form the majority of Qatar's residents. The petrochemical industry has attracted people from all around the world. Most of the expatriates come from South Asia and from non-oil-rich Arab states. Because a large percentage of the expatriates are male, Qatar has the most heavily skewed sex ratio in the world, with 1.88 males per female.
The country has undergone a period of liberalization and modernization after the current Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, came to power after becoming Emir in place of his father. Under his rule, Qatar became the first country in the Persian Gulf where women gained the right to vote. Also, women can dress mostly as they please in public (although in practice local Qatari women generally don the black abaya). Before the liberalization, it was taboo for men to wear shorts in public. The laws of Qatar tolerate alcohol to a certain extent. However, public bars and nightclubs in Qatar operate only in expensive hotels and clubs, much like in the emirates and Bahrain, though the number of establishments has yet to equal that of the United Arab Emerates. SO hopefully- as I understand it from friends who have been to Qatar - there is a beer or two in Patrick's not so distant future.)Now a 4 day pass takes at least 8 days when you count the travel, which doesn't count as part of the pass. I left on Saturday from Eggers and convoyed up to BAF and I hope to get a flight out on Monday. Pat Meriwether was able to get the same time off so we are travelling together and hope to relax a bit. So far so good, we got a chance to watch some college football late last night and hope to catch some pro games tonight. It is nice not having any responsibilities for a little while.
Hanging out at Bagram for a couple of days is interesting. I have run into several people I know as many people must pass through Bagram to get back to their FOB (that is forward operating base). Bagram is pretty crowded and you run into a lot of people you don't know and make small talk while dining. Everyone has a story of where they are from and what they are doing in Afghanistan. You could ask the same question of so many people and everyone's story is different, amazing how diverse the group is in Afghanistan and yet how similar everyone's situation is; we are all in Afghanistan. I suppose you could do the same thing at any airport in the US.
So I am here in the computer room at BAF writing my update and letting you all know that I am well and looking forward to some time off. I hear that Qatar is pretty nice even though it is a bit of a hassle to get there. I will tell you about the trip in my next update.
This is a short update and I should have some good stories after my trip.
Peace to you all,