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Reporter's Notebook #2

J.M. Simpson's time with 5th Stryker Brogade

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Friday, December 11, 2009

With over 20,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines at Kandahar Air Field from 17 different countries, Kandahar Air Field (KAF) is a multicultural mix of languages, food and customs.

For example, one of the dining facilities, otherwise known as a DFAC, caters to the British.  Another eating-place, called the All Seasons, is a restaurant known for its Dutch cuisine.  The Luxembourg DFAC features a broad cross section of European foods, and there is a DFAC, which specializes, in Asian food.

And yes, there is a DFAC that serves only American food.

And while we're talking about the differences in food, we should also take a look at the differences in lodging.

While most of the supporting nations' military members have hard facilities with enclosed latrines and showers in which to live, the American forces - which is the largest presence on KAF - live in what are called "force provider style tents."

As to latrines, the soldiers use port-a-potties; showers can be taken in either trailers or tents.

Each living tent has ten double bunk beds in it that allows for 20 soldiers to each tent.  Since there are over 17,000 American soldiers at KAF, that is a lot of tents.

Almost all of the American forces are located on the southern edge of the airfield.

To lighten the mood in the otherwise dreary sameness of the tents, some enterprising soldiers named the area South Park.

"If you're not laughing, you're not living," said First Sergeant Henry Ortega when he showed me the sign.

"It's just one of the ways joes make life here a bit better."

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