Immediately following my trip to Chaghcharan I flew on to Kandahar. Along the way I was able to see both the Kajaki and Dahla Dams albeit from 10,000 feet rather than the up close and personal manner in which I had seen the Salma. This was in preparation for my trip back to America for a vacation of sorts. On Sunday the 18th I was given an opportunity to attempt to depart early for my rest and relaxation trip. Jumping on that I went to three different briefings and was told somewhere in the middle to be at the Inbound Terminal at 1430.
When I landed on Saturday I scratched out a list of things I needed to complete before I could leave the country. As you may expect, it grew before it shrank. In between tasks and briefings I had no time to complete the second most important and most time-consuming part of the list--two personnel evaluations. One I had started, but one I hadn't even begun to work on. With 1400 looming I had 75 minutes and these two evals left to complete. Both of them are on stellar performers, including the guy who is filling in for me while I'm on R&R, so they need to reflect the job they do.
In typical form, I was able to complete and send both evals. Less than 5 minutes after I sent them out the power went off. Disaster averted.
I rushed to my room and packed the few things that had been scattered about and made it to the van for a ride just in time to find out that the flight was canceled because of technical difficulties. I'm a big fan of letting them discover technical problems with large military planes on the ground rather than the alternative, so that wasn't the real problem. The problem was I would have to start all over again at 2200. Now I had not only completed my work for the day but I have plenty of day left to not do it in.
I returned to the Executive Office where my boss and the Area Officer In Charge are and discussed the state of things with them. We made a few more calls and went over the goings on. We have had a regular soap opera with one of our projects that I will miss the next episode of. Currently the state it is in is one without the Contractor on site, abandoned. As you might imagine, that begins some calls with everyone's bosses. A pleasant side effect of the conversation was that my boss's boss's boss told me that since missing a day in Afghanistan was like missing a month I should just delete all the emails I miss while I'm gone for 3 weeks. How often do you get such a pleasant instruction?
Since I couldn't go anywhere until after my next briefing, I received the news that a surprise party was planned for that evening in the Moral Welfare and Recreation Room. Unlike the MWR Rooms on Camp Stone, the MWR in the Castle Compound (soon to be re-named) of Kandahar is a hardened structure. What that means is that it is its own bunker. Instead of hanging out in a sandbag covered concrete culvert, during attacks the staff hangs out in the room with overstuffed couches, tables, chairs, ping-pong, puzzles, a full-fledged kitchen and many more amenities. This is the room that is supposed to take our mind off the fact that we are in a war zone. I love the irony.
Right as dinner was finished being cooked, the alarm started going off signaling a rocket attack. Being in the bunker already meant no further action taken to protect ourselves.
It turns out the birthday boy knew about the surprise after all. Someone almost always leaks when they try to do this type activity but all was not lost as some members of the team that weren't privy to the dinner arrived to the bunker for a rocket attack that was timed nicely with the presentation of plates. A fully catered rocket attack.