Helmand River revisited

June 12, 2007

 A few days ago I wrote in this blog about how the Helmand
River valley was rendered fertile by an ancient irrigation
system built by the Pashtun tribes in the area. As diplomats
here have pointed out to me, thats only part of the story.

“There’s been a fatality.”

June 10, 2007

Those words, spoken by Captain Jim Bewley, our British Army media operations chaperone, are the worst you can expect to hear when embedded with forces in the field. This was the third time I have heard such words while out with British troops.

Cooling off

June 8, 2007

Stewart shook me awake around dawn in the small room where they barracked us on the base in Sangin. The squaddies had made fresh porridge, a rare break from rations. It was in the headquarters building across the canal that runs right through the compound. You arent supposed to go more than 20 metres on the base without helmet and body rmour, so I suited up and hurried over.

Back to the Land

June 7, 2007

Before I joined Reuters I worked in Africa for a while, where I developed a strong sense of how geography shapes civilisation. The quality of land, access to water, distance from markets — all these can sow the seeds of conflict. Nowhere is a better example of this than Afghanistan, and I often try to throw a little geography lesson into my stories.

Back in Bastion

June 7, 2007

    We have hit the ground running. No sooner were we
comfortable in Kabul then we were whisked off in the back of a
Hercules cargo plane to Camp Bastion, the tented camp for
British troops in southern Afghanistans poetically-named Desert
of Death of Helmand province. The camp, as a British sergeant
once reminded me, is not far from where an entire British
brigade was wiped out in the Afghan wars of the 19th century.
The Baluchi and Pashtun tribesmen who first called it the Desert
of Death named it well: it is about as forbidding a landscape as
Ive seen anywhere. Flat and dry as the moon, covered in pebbles
and grey dust like talcum powder. Blisteringly hot in the summer
and (as I learned last December) freezing cold in winter.

In Kabul nothing changes, everything is changing

June 6, 2007

Welcome to the blog of our reporting trip to southern Afghanistan. I’ll be your host, Peter Graff. I’m the Reuters London defence correspondent. This is my sixth trip to Afghanistan since 2001.

From green to black at G8

June 5, 2007

The U.N.’s top environment official flourished a bright green tie to help celebrate World Environment Day.

Home Chicago – journeys end after 2,500 miles

May 25, 2007

Twelve days and more than 2,500 miles ago we left Santa Monica, California, bound for Chicago along old Route 66. That journey ended today as weve arrived at our destination.

One piece of advice for the Dixie Truckers Home

May 25, 2007

Dixie3.jpgThe Dixie Truckers Home in McLean, Illinois, off Interstate 55 and alongside what used to be Route 66, may not be the first American truckstop. But it’s definitely one of the oldest — and one of the most revered among aficionados of the old cross-country highway.

Breezy stroll on Route 66s most famous bridge

May 25, 2007


This bridge was once the point at which Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River at St. Louis. Now there is a picnic table near the middle and the closest you can get to being run over is by a short-sighted cyclist.