The renowned Kandahar boardwalk is closing,reports Jay Price of McClatchy News.
Along with it, the T.G.I. Fridays (yes, a T.G.I. Fridays, with servers and a nonalcoholic bar) will be shuttering its doors.
The boardwalk. Famous and infamous. If the war in Afghanistan ever gets its own “Apocalypse Now” film treatment, the movie crew will have to rebuild it for that symbolism-freighted scene about the dizzying gulf between the two cultures fighting the war. KFC vs. whatever the Taliban outside the base are eating.
Price even notes that retired general Stanley McChrystal tried to get the boardwalk closed down — when he was running the war — and came up short.
“This is a war zone — not an amusement park,” he writes.
“Supplying nonessential luxuries to big bases like Bagram and Kandahar makes it harder to get essential items to combat outposts and forward operating bases, where troops who are in the fight each day need resupplied with ammunition, food and water.”
Extravagant “morale, welfare, and recreation” facilities are not a new thing. Reporters from Business Insider have seen these facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, ones which include full indoor basketball courts, Olympic pools, smoothies, McDonalds, KFC, ice cream, Frappuccinos, etc.
As the U.S. scales back its presence in Afghanistan, these big-name vendors and their merchandise go with them.
On the flip side, troops who spend the vast majority of their time operating in the field have derided these services, referring often to life of “Fobbits” — a derogatory term combining the acronym FOB (forward operating base) with hobbit — or people who spend their whole deployment inside “the wire.”
(Check out this YouTube video of the boardwalk.)
“It’s a fantasy,” Spec. Michael Renfro of Crestview, Fla., told McClatchy. “People are walking around like they’re on vacation, but while I was there, there was a suicide car bomb right outside that killed three soldiers, and there were rocket attacks all the time.”
Whatever it is, it’s certainly a sign of the times — when the fast food restaurants go, so does America.
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