Reporter's Notebook: Afghan winter as dry as Bagram DVD selection
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — It looks like the heavy amounts of snow and rain that fell last year in Afghanistan aren’t the start of a new trend. So far this February, military weather forecasters at Bagram Air Base have recorded less than half an inch of precipitation — and absolutely no snow.
That’s a change from last year, when more than 3 inches of rain fell during the month, according to Tech. Sgt. Randy Burk of the Combat Weather Team.
“We’re well below last year,” Burk said. The precipitation last year was well above normal, though, and ended a seven-year drought.
The totals this year are also about three-fourths of an inch below the seasonal average since the service began keeping records at Bagram after the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001.
Not only has there been less rain, there’s also been less snow. February is traditionally a month for cold temperatures in many parts of Afghanistan. But there were three days with highs of 61 degrees in the first week of the month at Bagram.
“Temperatures should stay warmer,” Burk said of the service’s current forecasts, which project about a week.
Less snow and less rain should be good news for residents in some villages, devastated last year by flooding. As a result, the military conducted numerous humanitarian drops and rescue missions last year.
“Salute alley”Disney Drive, the main thoroughfare that runs through Bagram Air Base — and for a while the only paved road on base — is closed early each morning so servicemembers can do physical training.
But a narrow strip of asphalt that parallels the road, usually separated by a drainage ditch, carries its own brand of PT. Since it’s the easiest and quickest way to travel from one end of the base to the other by foot, traffic can get heavy — especially during lunch time.
That means there’s no shortage of saluting going on. In fact, there might be more salutes-per-square-inch given on the walkway than anywhere else in the theater — if not around the globe.
That’s led to nicknames such as “salute alley.” Some of those walking along — such as lieutenants — seemingly salute or return salutes from everyone, leading some to think they should just maintain a continual salute while strolling along.
At the moviesThe Army and Air Force Exchange Service is a frequent target of complaints by servicemembers.
But those stationed in Afghanistan at such places as Bagram Air Base, Kandahar Airfield and Forward Operating Base Salerno have it much better shoppingwise than at some other bases. Those stationed at some bases have either no exchanges or very basic ones run by individual units.
Still, the selection offered at some of the big exchanges can be puzzling at times. Take the DVDs offered for sale at the Bagram base exchange/post exchange. Among the titles for sale currently are season compilations for “The Golden Girls,” a television series that probably doesn’t appeal to the typical military demographic. Even more interesting: “Pilates with Pregnancy.” You’re likely to see more Taliban supporters of President Bush than you are pregnant servicemembers in Afghanistan.