• Deploying to the MEAO - Day 27

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Tigger and a purple monkey cling to the medical flagpole at AMAB

    Day 27: Under her wings Our one hour flight from Bahrain to Dubai turned into an 11 hour endurance test. After spending most of the night in the air waiting for a freak cyclone to ease and in the Bahrain transit lounge, we finally made it back to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) safely. Rain is rare in the Middle East, but it has rained in every place we have visited. We seem to be taking it with us. I wonder if it will be raining in Canberra …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 28

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Vanilla slice

    Day 28: Decompression My room mate said to me at 9pm last night: "I feel like I should be doing something, that I should be working! I'm allfidgetyand I can't sit still". She keeps checking her right hip for her pistol and her left hip for her military ID that she had to carry at all times on base. She has just returned to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) after spending six busy months working on logistics in Kabul. She worked 12 hour days that…

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 29

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Discarded, dusty boots at AMAB

    Day 29: homecoming rituals Today was our final day in the MEAO (Middle East Area of Operations) - tomorrow we start the trek home on a chartered A340. One of the homecoming rituals is sorting through your kit and cleaning off the dust of Afghanistan. The laundry whirs as people wash and scrub everything so that it will pass the quarantine inspection. Some boots are too down-trodden to be taken home. Discarded, dusty boots at AMAB …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 25

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Interviewing Danica in my bedroom in Bahrain

    Day 25 - Spooks Danica is a naval intelligence officer. She sniffs out interesting information from a variety of sources and pieces together scenarios. Most of the scenarios involve the possible shipment of drugs from Pakistan along the "hash highway" or the "smack track" to the east African coast. Opium is grown in Afghanistan, processed into heroin in Pakistan and then shipped on small fishing vessels to Tanzania and Kenya where custom…

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 23

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Wooden boats that take about 25 people across Dubai Creek

    Day 23: 1971 After work today, we left the military camp on the moon (aka AMAB, see day 4) and caught the “RR” (Rest and Recreation) bus into Dubai. We went to the old part of the city – Deira, and wandered through the old souk (markets). Before I’d managed to glance at the colourful fabrics and spices, the stall holders were putting pashminas around my shoulders and handbags in my path. I felt I was swotting them away like …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 26

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Archways in the fort leading to the inner courtyard.

    Day 26 - Battle watch We had a few spare hours before our flight departed Bahrain today, so G3 and I went to an old fort. I was particularly pleased to get away from our accommodation, as I felt like I was under house-arrest. Not being able to leave the house without a male escort was stifling (see day 24). Archways in the fort leading to the inner courtyard. The Qal’at Al Bahrain dates to around 2250 BCE. It is on a man-made hill …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 24

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Cranes reach skywards

    Day 24: Bahrain We arrived in Bahrain today. This is my third country and my fourth currency (Emirati Dirham, Euros on the ISAF base in Kabul, US dollars on the multinational base in Tarin Kot and Bahraini Dinar) - I think it’s time for the Arab equivalent of the Euro. Bahrainis an island nation, a kingdom and a city-state. It is ruled by the minority Sunni Muslims and the majority Shia Muslims are, understandably, not happy about …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 22

    Wednesday 2 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Soldiers in uniform eating at the Mess, Al Minhad Air Base

    Day 22: Uniform(ity) Having lived on army bases for the past 19 days, I am surrounded by a sea of camouflage. The uniform for men and women is the same: “camo” cargo pants and long sleeved shirt, boots, t-shirt and a hat whenever you are outside, even at night time. The only thing that makes people look a little bit different is the insignia which tells you their rank, and the patches on their sleeves which tell you the unit they …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO: Day 20

    Monday 31 March 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    The French Quarter where the French forces sleep) at Kabul

    Day 20: Easter without eggs It's Easter Sunday and I am feeling deprived because I have NO chocolate eggs to eat. When we went to the European DFAC (Dining FACility) for brekky, I consoled myself with acroissantdipped in hot chocolate. We have been SO busy in Kabul, that there hasn't been any time to go to the gym. But I have had to wear my bone-crushing body armour every day, which is like walking around carrying 23 kg of weights at …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 21

    Monday 31 March 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Tim Chief Winship handing out Easter eggs on our flight

    Day 21: up, up and away Today we said goodbye to the magnificent mountains of Kabul and flew back to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base). We were supposed to be going to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, but the flight was cancelled. I was a bit disappointed not to visit Kandahar, once the capital of Afghanistan and now the second largest city, but not much. If you’ve seen Ben Quilty’s painting of Kandahar, you’ll know why. On the trip back …

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