Sgt. Hill, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, has been in Afghanistan only a few months as part of the new troop surge into the country. The troops are mainly focused on training and promoting the Afghanistan army and police force. The training is the United States' attempt to "teach a man to fish," in the security department of the ever turbulent country, a country which is still undecided if it wants to break free from Taliban influence. With these larger issues at hand the need for proper amounts of food and water have fallen by the wayside.
Initially it was expected that resources for surging troops would be low, as many bases were unprepared for the push ordered by the Obama administration. The surge, it is argued, was far too swift and did not give the military time to lay the proper infrastructure and provide housing and other amenities for the troops. The reality of the lack of preparation has been felt by Sgt. Hill and other troops currently in Afghanistan.
Over weeks of correspondence Sgt. Hill has informed Digital Journal of the conditions the logistics of just being able to eat. General McChrystal announced that fast food places like Burger King and Pizza Hut
were going to be shut down and moved to make more room for essentials the troops will need for war.
As reported on Digital Journal:
"Supplying non-essential luxuries to big bases like Bagram and Kandahar makes it harder to get essential items to combat outposts and forward operating bases, where troops fighting every day need to be resupplied with ammunition, food and water."
By closing up the outlets, the FRAGO’s design is intended to free up storage space, provide secure areas for equipment, and reduce flight and convoy traffic across the country.
This action may have made matters worse for soldiers who are on missions during designated chow hall times.
At Camp Mike Spann some soldiers have been forced to skip up to three meals a day, and are forbidden to eat Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) unless they are on an evening mission to save on the lack of available rations. The Chow Hall at Camp Mike Spann is not open 24 hours and civilian and military workers are not happy if anyone attempts to even serve themselves prepackaged bowls of cereal when the cafeteria is not open.
The infrastructure has not been freed up a significant amount to allow for the proper shipping of food and beverages, Sgt. Hill says. At Camp Mike Spann, in particular, there have been times when they have run out of drinks and other food items. There is no potable water available so troops rely on bottled water for hydration.
The Camp chow hall is now closed for lunch and only serving breakfast and dinner to be able to stretch out the available food since another troop wave hit. Today Sgt. Hill casually mentioned the situation behind being able to get food. To be able to speak with me, he has to wait up to a half an hour in a line for 10 minutes on the computer.
Sgt Hill: The chow hall just now opened. While I'm here and the line is already (an hour and a half long). Guess I am not eating again..
Digital Journal: Wow. Somebody should do something about that. Maybe call congress?
Sgt. Hill: Nah. Conservatives think we should just suck it up because we are in a war zone, and Liberals want us all to die anyway. Nobody gives a F***.
Camp Mike Spann is not the only place dealing with a shortage of food and water. An article in Stars and Stripes
brought to attention the hardships of one Marine Encampment. At Marine Combat Outpost Contu ,"there are no beds, no showers, no toilets and no electricity. Chickens and ducks roam the bare dirt yard amid scraps of trash and rotting animal dung. Fleas, flies and filth are the grunts’ constant companions." They doubt they will see permanent living crates or even cots. They sleep with flees and chiggers and have very little food available to them. They say living like pioneers in the 1800s has given them a new appreciation for things like a bath or a shower and clean clothes.