Not Going Away Soon
This picture is from inside the infamous Taliban's Last Stand. Those that have been to it know what it is and probably don't want to go back--unless they've been there an uneven number of times. An even number of visits is best because that means you not only landed but also took off from Kandahar Air Field, Kandahar Afghanistan.
As the name implies, this was the last place in Kandahar the Taliban were before being removed. The walls and ceilings have huge chunks of plaster and rock missing from them from the battle that dislodged them. It is impressive and a testament to the construction that the building is still standing at all. This particular picture is over a door to the exterior.
The door itself used to be a bigger, perhaps even a rollup style door and as the mission began the cables and wiring needed for operations in the building were run inside the PVC conduit which was run around the larger door and its mechanisms. Then upgrades were made. The door was removed and reframed for a smaller, person-sized door (actually a double door). When the need for more data lines became obvious they were run close to, but not in the conduit. The first few were more closely following the conduit alignment but then not so much. The attitude of "we'll fix it later but for now" may have been expressed. Then more expansion, more cables, this time just grouped together with zip ties. Again, run near the original conduit as much as possible. Then just run in the vicinity but still zip tied neatly (?) together. Then some lines just run the shortest distance possible, never mind the old conduit and cable runs, but still grouped and zipped. Finally a few lines were run without even mounting and just thrown over the light before just pulled and supported at the corners without even the fixture for intermediate support.
So what does it mean? What started with good intentions, and an attempt to normalize to regular civilized appearances degraded over time while the likelihood of a return to normal operations decreased. A sort of utilitarian approach which, oddly enough is all that is needed, wanted, or can survive in the area. It isn't that Afghanistan is incapable of governing, guarding, or growing on its own. The attitudes of those around it and in it are more concerned with more important things. Like living. And surviving. Less about having a new coat of paint, or faster internet. They do not want to be Americanized or even Westernized. They are happy with the culture they have and have had. The picture doesn’t prove that, but it doesn’t prove anything. It merely shows a glimpse into what started with the best of intentions that over time has degraded to be just what is needed and not much more.
I left Kandahar during a time of drawdown. In one meeting we discussed the particulars of how that drawdown would be. I don’t recall the numbers now, but there was a set number of people that were the maximum that could leave per day. Doing the math it was a physical impossibility for the number of people on KAF to take the regular flights and have the post emptied by the date it was supposed to. Now today, four years later, KAF is still populated, still going strong, and I imagine that this tangle of wires is still there, with perhaps some new additions.