Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

The changing face of war in Afghanistan



I was embedded with Western troops a few days ago. Beforehand I was warned of austere living conditions at the combat outpost. I thought about the agony — since I suffer from technophobia — of filing stories through a satellite phone in the scorching heat.

As I rolled out my sleeping bag I noticed all the soldiers had mosquito nets over theirs. Actually, they were there to keep camel spiders and scorpions away. It was remote as can be. Grape fields, mountains and villages with mud brick huts with, probably, no electricity.

What about troop morale? A sergeant said one of the problems he faces is trying to help his men cope with their girlfriends breaking up with them and family problems. I thought of that old movie image of the soldier getting his letter from the mail pouch and reading the Dear John notice.

┬áNot here. To my surprise, the combat post had wireless Internet. I walked by soldiers at night and there was that familiar Facebook screen. Love — and no more love — messages carried electronically.