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American forces across Afghanistan celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with all the traditional foodstuffs. Generals with U.S. Forces-Afghanistan carved turkey for servicemembers at the New Kabul Compound.
American forces across Afghanistan celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with all the traditional foodstuffs. Generals with U.S. Forces-Afghanistan carved turkey for servicemembers at the New Kabul Compound. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
American forces across Afghanistan celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with all the traditional foodstuffs. Generals with U.S. Forces-Afghanistan carved turkey for servicemembers at the New Kabul Compound.
American forces across Afghanistan celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with all the traditional foodstuffs. Generals with U.S. Forces-Afghanistan carved turkey for servicemembers at the New Kabul Compound. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
In Kabul, high-ranking brass and civilians alike jumped on the serving line -- even if it meant having to wear a beard-net, like Cliff Messman, senior advisor to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan's command.
In Kabul, high-ranking brass and civilians alike jumped on the serving line -- even if it meant having to wear a beard-net, like Cliff Messman, senior advisor to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan's command. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Brig. Gen. James Simpson of Combined Joint Support Contracting Command took a civilian's dinner order at the New Kabul Compound. Navy Capt. Doug Noble, the Defense Logistics Agency Support Team Commander for Afghanistan, said dining facilities can usually improvise and substitute their way through shortages, but holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with a traditional menu are "no-fail meals." For food and supply logistics workers, he added, "They're like our Superbowl."
Brig. Gen. James Simpson of Combined Joint Support Contracting Command took a civilian's dinner order at the New Kabul Compound. Navy Capt. Doug Noble, the Defense Logistics Agency Support Team Commander for Afghanistan, said dining facilities can usually improvise and substitute their way through shortages, but holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with a traditional menu are "no-fail meals." For food and supply logistics workers, he added, "They're like our Superbowl." (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
An Afghan worker sets out corn on the cob. Another local contractor, Nazeer, said Thanksgiving reminded him of national holidays like Afghanistan's independence day, or Eid, the feast at the end of Ramadan. "We get everything from God, so to God we give thanks," he explained.
An Afghan worker sets out corn on the cob. Another local contractor, Nazeer, said Thanksgiving reminded him of national holidays like Afghanistan's independence day, or Eid, the feast at the end of Ramadan. "We get everything from God, so to God we give thanks," he explained. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
An Afghan contractor, Khuja, carries a tray of freshly baked bread rolls. While New Kabul Compound has a relatively well equipped kitchen, many small Forward Operating Bases celebrated Thanksgiving with special pre-prepared Unitized Group Rations, which spokesman Jeff Hawk said included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, a "raisin-nut mix with chocolate discs," cranberry jelly and poultry seasoning, plus some special extras like eggnog and pie.
An Afghan contractor, Khuja, carries a tray of freshly baked bread rolls. While New Kabul Compound has a relatively well equipped kitchen, many small Forward Operating Bases celebrated Thanksgiving with special pre-prepared Unitized Group Rations, which spokesman Jeff Hawk said included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, a "raisin-nut mix with chocolate discs," cranberry jelly and poultry seasoning, plus some special extras like eggnog and pie. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Harees, a local contractor, unwraps a pallet of cakes. Altogether, the U.S. military shipped out 20,000 pies and 1,700 gallons of eggnog, plus, of course, 70,000 pounds of turkey for the holiday. Chief Warrant Officer II Joshua Johnston, a theater food adviser, said about 6.6 pounds of Thanksgiving food were allocated per service member in Afghanistan.
Harees, a local contractor, unwraps a pallet of cakes. Altogether, the U.S. military shipped out 20,000 pies and 1,700 gallons of eggnog, plus, of course, 70,000 pounds of turkey for the holiday. Chief Warrant Officer II Joshua Johnston, a theater food adviser, said about 6.6 pounds of Thanksgiving food were allocated per service member in Afghanistan. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Even not-so-traditional foods were enlisted in the holiday celebration at New Kabul Compound.
Even not-so-traditional foods were enlisted in the holiday celebration at New Kabul Compound. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
The Army's logistics workers also made sure units were well stocked with decorations, although Chief Warrant Officer II Joshua Johnston, a theater food advisor, said some bases were asked to hold onto their holiday decorations from last year and re-use them.
The Army's logistics workers also made sure units were well stocked with decorations, although Chief Warrant Officer II Joshua Johnston, a theater food advisor, said some bases were asked to hold onto their holiday decorations from last year and re-use them. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
At New Kabul Compound, giant styrofoam gourds and an overflowing cornucopia decked out the dessert table. They were constructed by two Afghan contractors, one of whom, named Sultan, is pictured here. The carpenters stacked dozens of layers of packaging foam, then carved, sanded and painted them.
At New Kabul Compound, giant styrofoam gourds and an overflowing cornucopia decked out the dessert table. They were constructed by two Afghan contractors, one of whom, named Sultan, is pictured here. The carpenters stacked dozens of layers of packaging foam, then carved, sanded and painted them. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
A contractor stirs broccoli behind the scenes as servicemembers queue up at New Kabul Compound. Logistics and food supply officers said planning for Thanksgiving started months ago. Fresh fruits and vegetables were some of the last items to move into position.
A contractor stirs broccoli behind the scenes as servicemembers queue up at New Kabul Compound. Logistics and food supply officers said planning for Thanksgiving started months ago. Fresh fruits and vegetables were some of the last items to move into position. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

NEW KABUL COMPOUND, Afghanistan — Months before Thanksgiving, all through Afghanistan, helicopters, cargo planes and mine-resistant vehicles have been hauling turkeys, pies and stuffing between major camps and tiny desert-bound forward operating bases.

“We started really worrying and stressing about Thanksgiving back in the August-September time-frame,” said Capt. Doug Noble, the Defense Logistics Agency Support Team commander for Afghanistan.

Every American unit in Afghanistan received at least a basic package of Thanksgiving essentials, including turkey and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. Tiny FOBs got Unitized Group Rations, and some Special Forces units had to pick them up and haul them back into the field. Noble said that Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is considered a “no-fail meal” among logisticians. For food and supply logistics workers, he added, “They’re like our Super Bowl.”

Finally, after the last perishables were delivered a few days ago, logistics and support personnel can relax today, while preparation crews shoulder the load.

“I guess it’s even better (than Thanksgiving at home),” Noble said, “because I don’t have to cook today.”

Many of the people who showed up around dawn in the New Kabul Compound kitchen were Afghan contractors. As at many bases, they made giant plastic foam gourds and cornucopias, gluing together layers of packing material, hacking and sanding them into place, and then painting them hallucinogenic shades of orange.

At this base, a public affairs worker typed up a history of Thanksgiving and distributed it to the Afghan staff.

“We get everything from God, so to God we give thanks,” one Afghan worker, Nazeer, summed up the holiday. He compared it to the Afghan independence day or the Muslim feast day, Eid.

Now that Thanksgiving is over and done with, work can begin on preparations for Christmas dinner.

standifer.cid@stripes.com

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