Go Behind The Scenes At A Key Afghan Military Base

Afghanistan Behind The Scenes

Photo: Geoffrey Ingersoll

A while ago, we featured a cast of characters that our contributor Geoffrey Ingersoll is following while embedded with Marine units and Afghan forces in Helmand province. This photo feature takes you right into the day-to-day actions and conversations of Afghan forces as they shoulder a leading role inherited from their American mentors. See the pictures >

Have a look at Geoffrey’s intimate portraits of military life in Afghanistan — from the office of a stalwart General, to an urgent medical mission, and the faces of the counterinsurgency. The full text Geoffrey’s accompanying story will be released as a four-part series featuring The General, a legendary Afghan officer. 

Brigadier General Abdul Wasea (pronounced, “Wa-Say”), commander of the 2nd Afghan Army Brigade in northern Helmand and Nimroz, is sitting next to me on the couch, one leg folded up underneath the other.

He issues a few orders, and the last remaining officers scurry out the door.

Then he turns toward me. 

“So?” He says.

U.S. Marine Colonel Jon Shafer and General Abdul Wasea receive a salute from a recent C-IED graduate

General Abdul Wasea and Marine Lt. Col. Tom Przybelski eat together at the Marine chowhall on Delaram II — every other Thursday the Marines and Afghans eat lunch together — switching between the Afghan chow hall and the American's

General Wasea speaks to a local clinic worker and an aid worker in his office about the medical partnership between the Army and local clinics

He has also developed a close relationship with Marines over the last two years at his appointment as commander of the 2nd Afghan Army Brigade in northern Helmand and Nimroz provinces

One of many door-knockers on Colonel Abdul-Hai's office door, looking for guidance on one thing or another. In the 5 or 6 hours I spent in Abdul-Hai's office, I think I spent no more than five minutes with him uninterrupted

Colonel Abdul-Hai requests coalition air support when he gets news of an assault, but Marine Capt. Charles Arvisais had to advise him of the bureaucracy he would have to navigate in order to fulfil that request — as precious time ticked on

Col. Abdul-Hai stepping out of the radio operator's office — American forces were unable to provide air support. Two reasons: U.S troops are attempting to hand off control to Afghan forces, and American air support is hard to come by even for Americans due to a continuing military draw down

A mass casualty situation arises off-base and ambulances pull out to help. Civilians often request the help of the Afghan Army because Afghanistan's medical infrastructure is still largely undeveloped

American Military medical workers struggle to save the life of a young boy after a devastating road accident. Afghanistan isn't known for traffic laws or highway safety, especially in rural areas. There is also no emergency room

An entire platoon of medical personnel struggle to keep the most injured patients alive. The U.S.-provided medical assistance is not going to last forever — how with the Afghan forces cope beyond 2014?

The Afghan Shock Trauma Platoon is alive with activity, but the most urgently injured casualties are taken to the American platoon

Every patient who enters the American Shock Trauma Platoon is thoroughly searched and cleared prior to entering for treatment. It is well within insurgent tactics to wire explosives to injured locals

Blood streaks the floor

Because the Afghan Army is ill-equipped and inadequately trained for mass casualty situations, the responsibility falls on Navy surgeons and corpsmen, who by their nature will not turn away any injured patient — even enemy fighters

A soldier takes a midday break inside one of the large Conex boxes used for storage. Troops are required to take a three hour break during the day to avoid heat casualties

As it is now, there is no shade where soldiers work on their trucks, and they're finding it exceedingly difficult to work around the hot engines as summer approaches. The Brigade is building facilities to combat this hardship

Oshkosh is a major supplier of Multipurpose-All Terrain Vehicle's to the Military and they're vital for travelling around Afghanistan's rough terrain

Soldiers hang around one of many Ford-built Light Terrain Vehicles the Afghan Army uses on patrols. Some soldiers think they should be equipped with Russian made tanks, something they're used to handling

A soldier's bunk: a mirror on the wall for uniform checks, a letter from home, a drawing from the kids, a rifle leaning next to a well-kept bed, and a tea tray for serving guests — something Afghans love to do

Haircuts last long into the night every Friday on Delaram II — Marines also get their haircut at least once a week, but some Afghans maintain an abundance of facial hair

Junior Afghan officers take it easy during their one day off a week, Friday: Haircuts, gear prep, and prayer are the main activities during the day, not to mention the large amount of tea drinking

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