Yesterday was a full day out and about in Mazar e Sharif. We visited both of the clinics we work with in the area. All told we spent about 3 hours travelling and 3 hours talking. As has become my rule, I did not exercise after wearing the Body Armor for 6 hours yesterday.
The biggest treat for me was to be the TC, or Truck Commander for our MRAP. You definitely get a different perspective on the 20 tons of rolling thunder that is an MRAP when you get a better field of view. I called in some checkpoints and got to help turn some of the systems on or off. It wasn't really that much like commanding, since the Sergeant next to me who has run this route about 100 times kept prompting me what to do next. Nonetheless I was glad for the opportunity. I think more than anything the soldiers who run this patrol let me sit up front because I do ride with them so often and inevitably end up in the back. I did get some low quality photos of a typical day on the streets of Mazar e Sharif to share.
We went past the Blue Mosque, which based of the dreams of a mullah in the 1100's, is the spot for the resting place of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of the prophet Muhamed. The death of Ali was one of the major factors in the schism of sunni and shia muslims. A shrine was constructed on the spot. The name of the city Mazar e Sharif means "Noble Shrine". Najaf Iraq also claims to be the final resting place of Ali as well. The Blue Mosque, also known in Dari as the Rowza, is surrounded by some gardens, which my split second photo from a moving MRAP does not convey.
We got to meet with two groups of our mentees. We always have a laundry list of issues to discuss. We are making good progress on some building projects with the help of the Engineers in Kabul/HQ. We also plan to start a regional trauma course similiar to one that the US Army has used for years, Combat Lifesaver. The goal is to have the Afghans running this course completely on their own before my tour here is finished. Anything that is of benefit and self-sustainable is a very good thing.
The fields pictured are irrigated, which explains why there are any green plants present. The childrens excitement upon seeing a Coalition vehicle is almost universal. Perhaps in part due to the distribution of Shiryni, or sweets upon occasion.