Well, I'm finished in Pashmul, and barring any freakish mortar round or crash I should be back in the States in about 9 days. The trip back is somewhat of a journey in itself because the volcanoes in Europe have backlogged all the flights out of Manas AFB in Kyrgyzstan. I'm just hoping we don't get stuck in Kandahar for very long 'cause it's getting ridiculously hot over here. Margaret told me that the high in CO Springs was 73° yesterday . . . bring it!
The RIP / TOA (Relief in Place / Transfer of Authority) process went OK. Today was my last day out of the wire and the Taliban sent us out with an appropriate sendoff of 82mm indirect fire and some small arms harrassing fire. They couldn't just let us go . . . :-) The new unit, the 1st Battalion, 502 Regiment, 101st Airborne, is getting acclimated to the heat and the new environment. They will do fine, but I fear some of their tactics may be a bit too limited. Each counterinsurgency environment is different based on where you are, and Pashmul is simply the “wild west” of the Zhari District in Kandahar. If you like to read you may want to check this article out. It's kinda lengthy but it accurately describes the environment I've spent the last 7 months in: http://www.understandingwar.org/report/talibans-campaign-kandahar <http://www.understandingwar.org/report/talibans-campaign-kandahar> . I pray the new unit can carry on the work we've done and successfully push the Taliban out of this area. It should be an interesting summer . . .
I appreciate everyone's prayer and continue to ask for it over these next 9 days. I'm sure it will be a mixture of excitement and frustration at the same time. Dealing with the Army on mass movements like this requires an inordinate amount of patience, things tend to get really stupid. Anyway, I'll keep you guys updated as I move back.