Friday, September 15, 2006

Old Story - Dignitary Visit

In relation to my time here in country, this is an old entry. I already posted the picture that goes with this entry, but I'll post it again.

Dusty, Paul and I had the opportunity to meet with the Brigadier General of the Afghan Army JAG Corps. His name is BG Shir. His office is in the Ministry of Defense building in downtown Kabul. ‘We went there with our Navy JAG counterparts.

They took us to the various military bases in Kabul. We visited the Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan compound. It’s comprises several city blocks in Kabul. The military went in and rented the houses and buildings and turned them into living quarters, office work spaces, dining halls, PX’s etc. I finally got so see some green as there were beautiful tree-lined streets, fruit trees, flowering trees and bushes. It seems like a great place to work and live.

We also visited the International Security Afghan Forces compound. It’s not the NATO compound, we did see that, but it is a compound made up of many different nations. While there I saw soldiers from Canada, Germany, Italy, Croatia, France and a couple others that I didn’t recognize. Their compound had virtually no green and appeared to simply be a bunch of metal shipping containers thrown together to make a military compound.

After that, we finally got to go and meet BG Shir. His office was on the top floor/5th floor and there was no elevator. It’s an old building that is showing its age. Paint was peeling from the walls, the marble floors were cracked and there was that old building smell. But it was still pretty cool. In my minds eye I could see former British, Soviet, Taliban and other military types walking the halls. It was another of those surreal experiences I’ve been having lately.

The surrealism continued as I sat in his antiquated office. I mean, here I was, a lawyer from Utah sitting in a high ranking government officials office chatting with him, giving him advice and him actually listening to what I had to say. I know it’s a far cry from sitting in some bureaucrats office in Washington DC, but at the same time it was exactly like I was sitting in some bureaucrats office in Washington DC. I mean this is the Afghan government for crying out loud.

So here is the proof. It’s Paul, Dusty and myself with BG Shir. He’s a short man but he doesn’t come across as a short man when you’re meeting with him.

And the visits with the high ranking individuals continues.

I had an opportunity to meet with the commanding general of the Army in this sector, General Mengal. His office is in a building that sits up on a hill overlooking Camp Blackhorse and the valley. It was like walking into a throne room. Furniture is everywhere. Lots of couches, love seats and arm chairs. They are all very ornately carved and painted in pastel colors with gilt edges. It was quite old but comfortable and functional. His office overlooks the valley. The door to the balcony was open and a breeze was fluttering the drape so I could get a great view of the valley and the camp. Sorry, but I don’t have a picture of my meeting with him.

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