Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Because I Have Time To Kill Before A Conference Call

"Now you will tell us of your troop movements, wretched pond dweller..."

"I want the location of the Rebel Alliance!"
"Do you expect me to quack?" "No, Mr. Duck, I expect you to die!"

FROM MIGHTY QUINN: "Lord Vader, we've tried everything, but all he says is 'AFLAC!'"

[As seen on Drudge]

What the Busy Claims Specialist's Cube Looks Like

And this is the best it has looked in months! Good thing you cannot see the floor...

Gee, Thanks Mr. Mayor

Imagine my surprise this morning as I am working out at the "Y" and see Ray Nagin being interviewed on CNN by Soledad O'Brien and he was wearing a 4 star general's DCU top...
He was saying something about wearing it in a parade to honor our military first responders who helped, or somesuch.
Gee, thanks Mr. Mayor. That was five weeks of my life I would love to have back.

And if you really wanted to honor the "military first responder" you should have been wearing one of these:

The US Coast Guard was your true, heroic first responder. It still boils me that they haven't been given enough credit for what they did during Katrina.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Hit Me Baby One More Time..."

I have another story at Another Realm. It's called "Blind Date with a Mad Scientist." It's a comedy.

Please go there and take a look. Leave me some comments on what you think. I got blasted for "Passover" not being funny so I wrote this to see if I should even bother.

What do you think?

A Delightful Piece of Spin

"The 2005 survey results are in. Overall, the news is generally favorable, but there are some key areas of opportunity."

That is just wonderful! "[K]ey areas of opportunity" indeed. I wonder how many people with MBAs sat around trying to figure out a way to say "Most people are happy, but there seem to be some fairly consistent complaints" or "Not bad, but some things are really pissing people off" in weasel words.

I Suspect He is Not Bluffing

Pol-i-Charki Prison has had a wing taken over by prisoners. "We can take all these prisoners in one hour," Mohammed Qasim Hashimzai, the deputy justice minister, told The Associated Press as he traveled to the prison Monday. "But to prevent bloodshed we are trying to negotiate."
I rather think he isn't bluffing.
Past experience shows us that almost nothing is off the table when it comes to retaking an Afghan prison ("airstrikes"?). I imagine that the AQ and TB elements that started this will get their martyrdom handed to them if they don't surrender.

UPDATE: Hmmmm.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Army Girl meets the Kuchi Camel

I think that Army Girl has met our old friend the Kuchi Camel.

Here he is with the Inner Prop:

Here he is with me:

And here is his ID:

More UAE Thoughts

SGT Hook has similar thoughts to mine - but he expresses himself much better (typical, clear speaking, no-nonsense NCO...)

Neptunus Lex takes Lilek's to task and does quite well in expounding in his comments section.

The Counterterrorism Blog has some excellent material too.

I guess I am too tied up and weary to fight this issue much. Fortunately the above folks seem to have done much better than I could anyway.

Thank You - Come Again!

The way the US has strip malls and convenience stores, Afghanistan has these little stands. We called them "7-11s" as they served the same function.
We would occasionally buy a few things - and I think the novelty of having us stop by meant more than any purchase we would make. Tho' I was quite partial to the cookies they sold for 10 afghani (about 20 US cents) a pack. I would draw smiles every time I would buy up 6 or 7 packs and tear into one right away. Naturally, I made sure I shared with the local kids too.

Note the racks of empty Pepsi bottles - Afghanistan is part of Pepsi's international sphere of influence. Kind of disappointing, as I am a Coke drinker, but what can you do 8000 miles from your own hometown 7-11...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pro-anti-war? The Starbucks Empire Drives On

My wife just called me and told me to boycott Starbucks because they refused to send coffee to soldiers in Iraq. Well, seeing as I was a work (and at a much faster connection than at home) I Googled that.

I found that the story she had heard was based on a hoax email (evidence of the power and danger of the uncontrolled internet) that has since been debunked (by the hoaxer).

I was also surprised to find that Starbucks themselves are being protested against for supporting the GWOT and for forcably exporting American culture worldwide (I guess they should put tobacco-esque warning labels on the cups: "Warning! Coffee is extremely habit forming...").

Personally, I'm boycotting Starbucks because it's too durn expensive and they can't use regular words like small, medium and large.

Crouching Cheney, Hidden Rumsfeld

Seeing the above photo reminded me of...

("You may have defeated my Southern Hook Palm technique, but can you defeat the 1000 styles of Rumsfeld?")

[Cheney photo as seen on http://www.metafilter.com/ thanks to BoingBoing]

A Picture of a Hero

Yours Truly (L) and a Marine Corps Surgeon (R) meeting with Parwan Province government officials.

I have had a couple of conversations with health care providers recently. It really made me think about what people who have the calling or gift of healing mean to us. I remembered meeting a USMC surgeon who worked in our Area of Operations - not just on US or Coalition personnel, but on plenty of Afghans as well. This man could have stayed safe and comfortable in the US, earning a nice living too. Instead, here he was in his country's uniform, in a war torn country, helping the afflicted and the injured. The Parwan Provincial Ministry of Health officials were deeply grateful to him, and thought him a hero. So do I.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Anti-Protestor Protestors

This group goes to Military funerals and stands between protestors and the grieving families. Sounds like something we talked about doing.

BTW they are anti-protesting that same group that showed (or threatened to show) in Rockford.

I can see where this could get ugly, but my initial reaction is "Hooray for the good guys!"

I hope they keep it civil and respectful.

Is The Speech Over Yet?

The students at the Aibatkhil Girl's School grand opening were pretty well behaved for a bunch of kids being forced to sit through a series of local politicians making speeches...

The younger ones were only a little bit squirmy - I had to smile at their efforts to stay still.

Of course we were a bit of a curiosity too.

I remember how proud the people of Aibatkhil were that their girls would be receiving an education. I think the CERP funds spent on the school were worth it - every penny of them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Scoring cheap points off a friendly nation

Grandstanding politcos of both the Democratic and Republican stripes have decided that letting a UAE based concern run port operations is tantamount to franchising Homeland security to terrorists. Sorry folks, time to throw the Bull$h&t flag on this one.
The UAE happens to be as friendly country as we will see in the Arab world (besides Kuwait). We received valuable help in Afghanistan from the UAE Special Forces troops stationed at Bagram. We were supplied with bottled water, food and dairy products from UAE based firms. We had other critical items contracted for with UAE based contractors. So the UAE is good enough to have troops serve along side our troops. They are good enough to help supply our troops, they let us use bases in their country to support both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it is easier to strut and posture (and frankly, come off like a knee-jerk bigot) and show you are "concerned" for Homeland Security (while scoring cheap grace with the media too). This puzzles me and angers me at the same time. I may have more to follow tomorrow - this is an off the cuff rant, one of first impression, so to speak.

That is all (for now).

UPDATE: OK everyone - I hope it has managed to sink in that security for our ports is a function of the USCG, DHS and the US Customs Service - NOT any contractor who runs part of the terminals of the ports in question. #%$& I am still steaming about this.

UPDATE II: Lileks rebuts my position (mostly on form, but a bit on substance too).

UPDATE III: If you want to void this deal, explain in the comments how you would explain this - both to a UAE Soldier who just rotates back from Afghanistan and to a UAE business leader.

UPDATE IV: See the comment from "Citizen Deux" - I had to call in an expert (Navy) to get the situation laid out proper.

AK in the Army?

When provincial officials would visit us, their bodyguards would come on base with their AKs. Well, they were not allowed to tote their rifles around base - so we would hold on to them. I had to admit that one time I felt the urge to strike a pose...

UPDATE: Afghan AK instructions: Insert 30 round magazine, point weapon in general direction of foe, depress and hold trigger, In'shallah...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another Donut Joins Us

I have added another personality to our box o' Donuts. CSM Bones joins us. I will leave it to him to introduce himself - and tell as much (or little) about himself as he would like. Trust me on this - he is an interesting addition to our humble blog.

A Small Example of Blogging Helping the Army

Two e-mails I recently received have shown me that blogging is a good thing for the Army. First off, I had one from a fellow Army Major, a staff officer at a higher headquarters that was going to be responsible for a new unit, the same type as mine. He was hoping that I could share some of our procedures with them. We are fairly new, but I will share what I do have. Secondly, I got an e-mail from a Navy officer who was sending people to Afghanistan, and wanted me to talk with one of his people about some things.
How did these two manage to get the idea to contact me? They saw my blog, saw something relevant on it, and went to my profile where my e-mail link is available.
Did I say that blogging helps the Army? Maybe I should have said that blogging can help, at least in some small way, the whole military.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Egyptian Doctor Pickup

In May of 2004, the Egyptian Hospital at Bagram AF was rotating its doctors. The new docs were flying in to Kabul International Airport, and the Egyptians asked for some help in retrieving them and their luggage. Our Task Force agreed and CSM Mark Bowman arranged some vehicles and personnel to go get them. The CSM also had been paying particular attention to what had been going on in our area, and thought that a whole load of Coalition medical personnel would be the highest value target to roll up or down the road in quite some time. So, being a top-notch NCO, he went and coordinated a little helicopter support. Why risk driving back on a highway famous for ambushes, when a Blackhawk could make the trip in very little time, and be much safer?

CSM Bowman - "I have a cunning plan"

The morning of the pick up, we all piled into our vehicles and sped down the main highway (a single lane on each side, not marked, no shoulder) to the Kabul Airport. Not much happened along the way...Well, except for the car that rammed the truck in the middle of our little convoy. Something seemed odd about it. This had been a technique to set up an ambush in the past - but the car was so small, it got bent up and the truck suffered very little. As we were going to shoot the offending car to pieces, it slowed down and went around us. When we stopped in traffic, the SGT driving our truck leaned out the window and put the tip of his M-4 carbine on the nose of the driver of the offending car (he was in an Asian style car - steering wheel on right, ours was a US, steering wheel on left, vehicle) and just shook his head "no". The other driver looked up and shrugged. We moved off, and the car slid back in traffic behind us.

When we got a bit further along, he sped back up and passed on our right. Ok, this time I was going to shoot him - but he stopped, hopped out of his car and went over to some bored looking traffic cops, who were waving at traffic, in a dulsatory manner, by the entrance to the Airport. It was a set-up alright...the driver had heard that we solved accidents by flinging wads of money and driving off, and he thought he could cash in on that. Damned fool almost got killed for his trouble - he ended up with a dented car and no side mirror (we found that lodged in the side of our truck, heh heh).

Hey, we made it to the Airport!

Non-Stop to Bagram

So we made out way to the flight line, picked up the Egyptian docs, and I accompanied them in a Blackhawk back to Bagram AF.

View from the Blackhawk on the way back to Bagram.

The CSM took the vehicles and luggage back up the highway.

Oh and his feeling about the highway being targeted? See the entry for the Norwegian soldier on page 5 of this link (May 23, 2004) and - Judge for yourself.

UPDATE: I added the date of the attack. We made this pickup on May 22, 2004.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Inner Prop, Paging Inner Prop!

The Sheriff of Cook County

I know the Inner Prop has covered this story. But it looks like the comedy is continuing...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Can I Have a Volunteer from the Audience, Please.

Why yes, the helmet is a bit heavy, isn't it? Don't worry, this won't last long...

I was invited by the daughter of a Soldier's Angel to help with her school project. She was doing a comparison of World War I soldiers and those of today. While I talked, I had a young volunteer from the class put on as much of my gear as he could fit. He was a good sport about it.

The whole class was rather good natured about me coming in, actually. The teachers were nice to me, and the young lady's Mom was very kind as well. All in all, I'd have to say it was a very rewarding way to spend my mid-day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oops I Did It Again

I have a new contest story, "Blue Nylon" (hence the photo on left) on Another Realm. It's a ghost story this time. Check out all the other great stories at that site.


And We Thought It Could Only Happen In Afghanistan

Last weekend there was a jailbreak at the Cook County Jail. Now there are alegations of political shenanigans.

I heard an interview with the Richard Remus today. He said that that was nonsense. He said Gater was not trying to get him elected since he didn’t even have a sign in his yard.

He sounded just like Chris Farley and I could have sworn that he was going to wax on about Da Bullsss and Da Bearsssss.

You will notice my friend that this was not Chicago’s Finest involved here. It's the Cook County Sheriff.

Ah, I love this town!

Addendum: Hey I just noticed something. The water is on the wrong side on the patch!
With situational awareness like that it's no wonder the inmates got out (you mean da Lake is dat way?).


I am dismayed when the media uses the term "warlord" to describe various Afghan notables. There are very few that deserve that epithet. Try a Google search of "Afghan Warlord" - 434,000 matches.

Ismail Khan did. Fortunately, he's gone.

Dostum did. But he was co-opted.

People like Mohammad Almos (Below and Left) are often described as "warlords" or "former warlords", especially in press accounts that parrot each other's points about the new Afghan parliament.

The best and truest example of "warlords" was in China, early in the 20th Century. Anybody who commanded troops in the fight against the Taliban doesn't automatically qualify as a "warlord". People like Ismail Khan, that had to be pried away from power - they probably deserve the label. I may be quibbling semantics here, but the press is supposed to convey information - and when you employ a term laden with so much baggage, such as "warlord", I feel you should be very careful in using it broadly. it just smacks of stereotyping and laziness.

UPDATE: Check the first comment out - very insightful. This is why I love the readers of this site... they can correct me, contribute more to the overall knowledge that I am attempting to spread. Good work...I only wish I could credit the person directly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Adjustable Settlement Authority

As you may (or may not) know, I work in the insurance industry. For Zurich, specifically. Today I decided to settle a lawsuit for $10,000. I thought a bit longer, and I e-mailed the lawyer working on our behalf with a proposition. I told our lawyer to propose a cage match between the other lawyer and myself - if he wins, I'll up the settlement amount by $5K, if I win, he'll have to drop his demand by $5K. Funny thing is, I haven't heard back from our lawyer. I wonder why?

UPDATE: No taker on my offer. Darn thing settled for $10K. Maybe next time...

Candy and Flowers?

Candy? Not really - somebody just used a high class (coffee) box to pack some things we took to the Charikar Orphanage.

Flowers? Fake ones - a militia building and they have these fake flowers sitting on the desk for the highest ranking person. Not very militant, if you ask me.

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Gratuitous Dig at the VP

OK, I assume everyone in the blogosphere is going to take a poke at the VP for putting some bird-shot into a hunting companion. I, showing my herd instinct, will do so obliquely.

I summon forth another story from the Oxford Book of Military anecdotes:


Berthier, the great organizer of the marches of the Army-Corps, tried his hand at organizing a shoot in order to please Napoleon. Every detail for the day's sport was worked out with the same meticulous accuracy with which the Grand Armee had been swept from Boulogne to Austerlitz. The carriages arrived on the stroke at the Tuileries, the beaters were ready, the keepers in their best clothes, a beautiful lunch waiting to be eaten, and a thousand rabbits, brought the night before and dumped in the park, waiting to be shot. But poor, ugly little Berthier made one trivial mistake. Instead of buying wild rabbits, he bought tame ones and did not know that they were accustomed to be fed twice a day. When the Emperor took his gun in hand and advanced into the park, the rabbits, all thousand of them, mistook him for the man who provided their daily lettuce, and leapt to their feet and charged towards him. Berthier and his staff beat them off with horse whips, but the rabbits, who were more expert in the Napoleonic warfare than some of the Marshals, wheeled round on both flanks and actually reached the Emperor's carriage before the Emperor could mount and drive off back to Paris.
Another curious incident of the shooting-parties of these splendid days was when Napoleon, who was a better hand with a field-gun than he was with a fowling-piece, accidentally shot Massena in the eye. With characteristic readiness, the Emperor put the blame of the accident on Berthier, who with characteristic subservience accepted the blame, while Massena, who lost his eye, with characteristic tact accepted the transference of blame.

It is my understand that Mr. Cheney is not attempting to transfer blame on anyone - so at least he comes out of the current story a little better for it. Also, it doesn't appear the poor hunting companion is losing his eye either...

UPDATE: OK, so others are doing this in a more visual way... [thanks to the Instapundit]

I was going to defend my non-dorkiness

I was going to post the above photo as an example of how I do not always look like a dork (see posting of 2-11-06). I was going to describe this wonderful civil assistance mission we had - delivering school supplies to a new school building that we had finished for the village of Chobbahksh, and mention how smiling and confident I look, etc., ...when I noticed that the box I am carrying is upside down. Now it really didn't matter, since it was just a box full of notebooks, pens and the like, but it sure doesn't do much to rehabilitate my image.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I am only doing this because the Inner Prop did...

I am not worried about the uniform making me look fat - I am worried that I look like a dork.
Unfortunately, no tailor in the world can fix that...

Ethical Generalship

From the Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes, #79:

The dupties of a great metropolis in Germany, once offered the great Turenne, one hundred thousand crowns not to pass with his army through their city. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'I can't in conscience accept your money, as I had no intention to pass that way.'

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pimp My Ride

Somebody in Task Force Victory (at Bagram AF) tries to upgrade their humble truck. Never let it be said that soldiers cannot keep their sense of humor in a combat zone...

Yeah, what he said.

SGT Hook sums it up nicely.

Afghan Tea Quest

One constant feature of Afghan hospitality is tea. And damned fine tea it is. Afghanistan is a player in the tea market, as they consume so much. Others have noted how the Afghans make and drink it.

AP Photo

I seem to remember only one brand of tea advertised - Alokozay Tea. Alokozay is a UAE based outfit that seems to have saturated the Afghan market (even if they might have to do a little tweaking of their advertising).

I cannot find any and it is driving me up the wall. The nice fellow who runs the Namaste Plaza location near where I work has sold me some excellent Indian loose tea, but says I'd have to try a Middle Eastern oriented (no pun intended) grocery to find Alokozay Tea.


Its a Small Blog World

Via the comments on an earlier post, I found a blog of one of the soldiers from the unit we replaced at Bagram AF - Travels with Shiloh. Go check him out.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coping with Deployment

Please read this article by Jennifer Hicks. Oh, and yes, I am in it. But that aside, it is a well done piece, with some useful advice included. For more about the group publishing this, see this.

Education Oasis

College in Kapisa Province

Afghanistan is seriously short of teachers. Too many fled or were killed during the constant warfare of the 1980-2001 timeframe. The training of new teachers all but ceased under the Taliban. Some people are trying to help rectify that situation.

The college (shown above) in Kapisa Province is almost exclusively dedicated to training teachers. All I can say say is "more please".

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Disheartening News from Bagram

I was reading the Mudville Gazette this morning (you should be doing that too) when I saw a story about rioting near Bagram AF. My old friend Kabir Ahmed is quoted a few times. I did notice that the Washington Post calls him the Bagram Police Chief...er, not as such. He is the District Attorney - granted, their version of the District Attorney has a lot more power than ours, and he can direct police forces - but he is not the district police chief.

Kabir inspecting construction we were paying for under CERP, for the Bagram District government offices.

The most disheartening thing about the riot (after the people being killed, of course) was that the local shops near the first gate were broken into and damaged. This really tells me that outsiders were brought into the area to stage this riot.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Armory Relief

Whenever we have drill MJ puts photos on the blog. I didn't want to be shown up and I thought of a great photo op.

Our amory was built in 1939 and has wonderful architechtural elements. All along the windows are these reliefs. They all depect one or two scenes. Note that both seem to have someone who appears to be using signal equipment.

Also note the cross that the two truckers are sitting on. I think this is in reference to the Golden Cross of the 33rd Infantry Division that was created of the Illinois National Guard and fought in WWI before this building was built (or the Great War as it would have been know then).

You can see a wider shot of our armory in the film Ali (the scene where he was inducted was shot here).

BTW: MJ and I are lobbying to have our new motto be "You'll get nothing and like it!"

Well Put.

Yes, this is old news, but I really like the way this article puts it. Here's what I want to know: Excluding some (allegedly small) subset of the Muslim world, is there anyone on earth who disagrees with the concept as framed here? It seems so simple to me; I'd love to hear a rational argument against it.

UPDATE (and intrusion by Major John): see also.

The Stick (and the Rock) is Mightier than the Firearm (maybe tied with the Pen)

One big difference between Afghanistan and America involves sticks, rocks, guns and pens. In America if you are even seen with a firearm, people become, well, more aware of you. If you make a theatening move with one - people scatter and panic. Not the same case in Afghanistan. When our security at Humanitarian Assistance drops, the front gate of our base, or anywhere a group of Afghans (particularly the younger ones) would gather tried to be menacing looking with their rifles - the crowd yawned. If they reached for a rock or a stick, people became more aware of them and the kids would scatter at full speed.
As you can see above, the police officer (who was armed) has a thin switch and is getting results with it. I saw many a time where sticks and rocks were freely employed, while guns and knives sat idle. Low level violence freely used, while deadly force was quite rare.

I will leave it up to the sociology types to explain this more clearly. I am just making an observation.

On the more, er, positive side, I found that the humble ball point pen was a quite effective "carrot" compared to the, um, stick. No matter where I went I would ALWAYS hear the same two word phrase over and over... "pen bahksheesh!" (a request for the gift of a pen). Fortunately word had gotten back home about this phenomenon, so we had boxes of pens mailed to us. I guess the pen is mightier than the sword (and the firearm) but tied with the stick...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Protein Wisdom look at The State of Free Speech

World events have conspired to make Jeff Goldstein's thoughts on the issue of free speech vs. identity politics even more relevant thatn before. Please go take a look at his thoughts on the matter. He is also soliciting feedback and reaction in his comments.

Bye bye 33rd ASG. Hello 108th Sustainment BDE

Bye bye, 33rd ASG...

We deactivated my old unit, the 33rd Area Support Group today. Cased up the colors and gave them back to the 2 star General who commands the Illinois National Guard.

Hello 108th Sustainment Brigade.

Then we uncased our new colors and activated the 108th Sustainment Brigade. Lots of new faces (the Inner Prop and I are anything but new). Lots of Iraq and Afghanistan vets. I think we are going to be just fine.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I don't get this...

Right now I can post on Blogger - but no matter how I try to get in - by AOL, by WestOverWire, dial up or cable - I am told I am not authorized to view this page...my own blog?!


In this article, on the Egyptian ship tragedy, I noticed one horrible little sentence:

Egypt has thus far declined offers of search and rescue assistance from the United States, Britain, and Israel.

What?! Why? Somebody should pay for that decision.

A Jolting Moment of Perspective

School construction in Jangadam - note use of old Soviet fuel drop-tank for water storage.

Ever since I came back from Afghanistan, I find myself caught in occasional "perspective check" moments. Case in point: I was asking my son how his classroom was doing in the school "contest" to collect Boxtops for Education. His school already is supported by Meijer Community Rewards and they participate in Market Day. After telling me they were behind some other classrooms, he mentioned that his classroom wasn't going to have verry many windows anymore. The school is expanding to add 8 classrooms, and the building will branch off of where his room sits.

That's when it hit me - 8 classrooms is what we built for our standard schools we provided under the CERP (Commander's Emergency Relief Program).

Major John and CPT Matt Pintur inspecting Jangadam School construction.

My thoughts about extra fundraising for my son's school, and hoping the expansion will go quickly and smoothly butted up against the memories of Afghan kids using tents as schools, sitting out under the open sky and being taught...

"School" in Shaka village. We built a brick one to replace this tent.

I feel very fortunate that my son has a very nice, modern school with excellent teachers, plenty of resources and committed parents who seek to help in every way (my wife is a "Reading Mom", for example). Ask yourself if you feel the same.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Venturing Where Inner Props Once Tread

I found a new blog - Afghanidan. It appears that he is where the Inner Prop was Base Operations Commander... go look already!

My Afghan Parliamentary Hook-up

I was not too surprised to see that Mohammed Almas won a seat in the lower house of the Afghan Parliament (the Wolesi Jirga). He is a very wealthy and influential man, and he had made sure there was enough good will toward him in his district.
The first mention I can find of Mr. Almas was in an article from November 2001 in the LA Times, briefly mentioning his role as a General in the Northern Alliance. He was happy enough to dump the General role and get back to what he did best - make money. He has extensive interests in construction and a surprisingly good restaurant in Kabul. Of course, some of his enemies believe his fortune is based on, er, certain commodities and other activities...
My dealings with Mr. Almas were fairly genial. He was keenly interested in what the US was doing in his district, and how our relations with the local leaders and the central government were coming along. I will follow his career with interest.
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