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Afghan forces revert to more familiar menu on former US bases

Afghan National Army cooks hand out meat, potatoes, salad and bread to soldiers at a base in Laghman province. The staff in the one-room kitchen prepares food for more than 500 soldiers every day.

JOSH SMITH/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOSH SMITH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2014

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Many foreign servicemembers who served in Afghanistan may have been used to regular steak-and-seafood nights at their base’s dining hall. But at the former American bases now used by Afghan forces, the new inhabitants stick to a more traditional menu.

At the headquarters of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Brigade, 201st Corps in Laghman province, eastern Afghanistan, Capt. Mohammad Aqa leads a team of three cooks who prepare daily meals for more than 500 soldiers.

Flatbread is baked on-site, while supplies like beans, meat and potatoes for other traditional Afghan meals are trucked in from Jalalabad city in neighboring Nangarhar province.

Aqa follows precise quotas when planning his food service. Each soldier is allocated one piece of bread, 140 grams of meat, 25 grams of beans, and on down through a list of various possible fixings that include rice, squash, potatoes and vegetables. Morning breakfasts often feature bread with one egg per soldier.

The meals are cooked over wood fires in large cauldrons, then spooned into bowls. Vegetables are handed out wrapped in the bread, and soldiers use their hands to break pieces of bread and sop up the food.

Afghan soldiers also have a version of takeaway, with food piled into buckets to be taken back to offices or to the men manning guard towers.

smith.josh@stripes.com
Twitter: @joshjonsmith

 

Afghan National Army soldiers pick up their dinner at a base in Laghman province. The bread is baked on site while other goods like meat and beans are trucked in from Jalalabad city and cooked over wood fires.
JOSH SMITH/STARS AND STRIPES