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Challenge of a lifetime
Written by Nathan Gallahan   
Thursday, 28 January 2010 20:56

(Nathan Note | This is the first of 37 blogs. To read the rest of the blogs and watch the rest of the vlogs, click the links at the top of this page.)

KABUL | Days -11 - Ken and I are about to embark on one of the greatest challenge of our lives. We're going out on a 30-day mission throughout Afghanistan and I'm personally not sure how it's going to pan out. At first, the idea was great, go out there and talk with Afghans and the soldiers and find out how this counter insurgency is going. I wanted to get some questions answered, such as how the pending troop build up around the country will be affecting the everyday service members on the ground, and how Gen. McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy has changed the playing field since it went into effect into July.

Now that our plan has been approved, with surprising enthusiasm, the weight of this is on our shoulders.

 
Understanding & Importance

KABUL | Day -4 - One of the greatest aspects of Web 2.0 and the reason I’m so excited about this project, is it’s conversational and interactive nature. I’ve been writing and shooting photos for the Air Force for more than six years and it’s been great, but I have always dreamed of being able to get honest and candid feedback on the stories I’m telling.

I’ve always believed that my ultimate bosses are the taxpayers, and they are who I’ve always kept in mind whenever I write a story or click the shutter. I’ve been honored with an opportunity, here and now, to work not only for Americans, but for 44 countries, which I must say is not only exciting but unnerving at the same time.

I know that I won’t be able to please everyone, and

 
The Afghan people will decide who wins

Camp Julien | Day 1 - Camp Julien is no more than a bunch of little buildings set row upon row. There are no stores, and the dining facility is only open when there are students here, and even when that’s the case, the hot food is delivered from a nearby camp.

This little camp’s sole purpose in life is to train select new arrivals on counter insurgency concepts.  Ken and I thought it would be a great place to start our journey because what we learn here will be our foundation for the next 30 Days, and it’s important to understand the mission, before you talk with those embroiled within it.

People from all over the world, from all walks of life, all ranks, ages and a multitude

 
Setting the Foundation

Camp Julien | Day 2 - Today I found answers and I can’t wait to share them with you. Ken and I had an incredible opportunity to talk, one-on-one, with U.S. Army Colonel John F. Agoglia the director of the counter insurgency training center here.

As I mentioned yesterday, Ken and I are in “foundation building mode”.

The interview went better than I ever expected, for starters, we weren’t stuck in his office listening to him behind his desk. He’s not that type of commander. Instead, we walk-and-talked up to the Queen’s Palace, which silently watches over Camp Julien from a nearby hilltop.

I initially asked him about counter insurgency, which

 
No Armor and Afghans

Kabul | Day 3 – My family probably thinks I’m crazy for what Ken and I did yesterday. We walked through the streets of a Kabul suburb in civilian clothes and no body armor.

The fact remains though, that we’re not crazy and we did it for multiple reasons. The first is because we wanted to talk with Afghans; we wanted to connect with them. From past experience, that’s almost impossible when you’re wrapped in kevlar and carrying weapons. Another reason we did it was to send a message – the people of Afghanistan are not our enemy, they are extremely hospitable, friendly and warm.

I’ve been to a few impoverished countries in my life, including the Philippines, where my wife is from. I’ve noticed one similarity between them all; when life for people is tough, they draw

 
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