Posts Tagged ‘Warzone’

Afghanistan, it’s as American as Baseball and Apple Pie; @CXI in the Warzone Update!

June 3rd, 2013

Today marks 107 days in the Warzone.  Okay, it’s not a sexy number like 100, or a gross number like 144… But it is the number of today where I’m writing this!     So, some of you might be asking, “What’s it like living out there in the Warzone?!”   I’ll tell you, and I’ll be as frank and honest as I can (or shirley?!)

I bet some of you went to college before, so you know what Dorm living is like, right?   Living in rooms where you may share walls or more with others.  It’s very much sort of like that… Well, Kind of. Sort of kind of I guess, I mean, a picture says a thousand words right?

The outside of a traditional "B-Hut" a plywood box of wonder! The inside of my wonderful B-Hut and it's ever so protective Plywood Door! 96 square feet! Thank you!

So as you can see from these beautiful photos, from the outside you can see the beautiful looks of a plywood box which I live in with 7 other people.  Awesome, right?!   And here’s a little glimpse of the ‘inside’ of the B-Hut, all 96 Square feet of space to stretch out and spend my days! (Nights!)

Clearly you’re thinking, “Damn, Ikea can make a KILLING there in Afghanistan with such lavish accommodations!”  Don’t you know it baby!

But when I’m not in my room sleeping, FaceTiming with the family, or at work, I walk down awesome pathways like this, or hide in bunkers like this!

The pathway to my heart is a mysterious one! Quick hide! ROCKETS ARE FALLING!

And now I’ll hit some of the Q/A which I regularly get asked to the best of my ability!

  1. Wow, as a vegan it must be really hard to eat out there. Do you find it difficult?
    1. I believe the technical answer is, HELLS YEA BITCHES.   I look forward to breakfast as it tends to be the most consistent meal of the day, and even that can be spotty often times.   I intentionally carb-load and over-eat while I’m here as “Winter is coming” or so my body needs to predict… as I don’t know when a vegan famine may be upon me, and it’s up to me to protect my well being!   There tends to be on average 2-3 items to eat per meal for a vegan, out of >50 items, those metrics aren’t something you can set a clock to…
  2. I see you tweet at times about rockets and mortars, SRSLY? IS THAT HAPPENING?
    1. Yes. Yes it does happen. I’ve been fortunate that the closet ROCKET to me has been a little over a mile away, which is fortunate considering the small rockets have a blast radius of 50 yards, I’d ideally like to stay as far the hell away as possible.    I’ve become a little jaded at Television special effects since being out here as I watch an explosion of say, an oil tanker 50 feet away have no impact on TV/Movies, yet a TINY IED goes off 3 miles away and it shakes the building I’m in? Yea, movies are totally ruined for me!
  3. Hey, Seriously WTF, why the hell are you in Afghanistan?!?!
    1. So, I covered a bit of that in this blog post here but on an added note.  I’m no warrior, I’m not strong, I cannot carry a weapon, nor perform physically bearing activities.  But I had the opportunity to do my part to serve our country, and serve our troops and do what I do best.   Help bring them home and make the technical environment which runs a warzone theater as Afghanistan as stable and solid as possible.  It just so happens I also carry with that a pretty hefty load of responsibility, but I’m no stranger to responsibility and leading.  So it suits me. :)
  4. Do you have any crutch music/movies to help get you through the days?
    1. Why yes I do.   I will often find myself watching Portlandia and Flight of the Conchords, and just trying to stay current on my regular Television as it airs.   I did watch Scott Pilgrim vs the World the other day, and I could watch that again and again.
    2. Musically, I will often be listening to Taylor Swift, Erasure and at this very moment as I type this, I’m listening to The Birthday Massacre.  My musical library obviously extends far beyond that; such that depending upon the analytical research I may be doing that is a perfect opportunity to blast The Ataris, Taking Back Sunday or Greenday in my ear holes!
  5. Asked by @nekosensei : What do you do while you’re on base to keep yourself entertained?
    1. This one may come as a surprise to a lot of you, but I *love* working. I always have, and being that I work 12 hours a day, I’m no stranger to the opportunity to work!   But when I’m not working and I’m not talking with my family on FaceTime (Skype sucks out here) I am watching shows, listening to music, or reading (or writing respectively).   It may not sound too glamorous, but it’s a good way to center yourself…
  6. Asked by @nekosensei : What locations have you been able to visit in the region when you were given the chance to get off the base?
    1. Honestly. I avoid leaving the base if I can help it (Exception while going on leave)   But as far as the places I’ve visited here in Afghanistan and in the region, here’s a breakdown…
      1. Kuwait – I visited Kuwait when I first got here, it’s where we flew in to.   I didn’t mind it too bad, dust storms and the weather wasn’t too bad but it was ‘winter’, apparently, it’s hot as all hell now, so not being there is ideal I figure.   The accommodations were a ‘nice’ transient tent with mice and food options which left much to be desired.  But it wasn’t too bad.  My time spent there was relatively pleasant.
      2. Kandahar – Wow. What can I say. I HATE Kandahar!   A lot of people may be surprised by that, but I was in a constant ‘transient’ state waiting to fly out of there and being promised a flight only to be disappointed constantly.  My time spent there, over 3 days was spent in a constant state of conscious/unconscious, but no sleeping.. I was never really ‘asleep’ as that might infer I was resting.   I slept on benches which hobos would laugh at in a PAX Terminal which a week prior had been hit directly with a mortar.   Let’s just say, I escaped from that without any scratches and I’m glad.
      3. Camp Bastion / Camp Leatherneck – This Marine base was a resort compared to where I’m at now!    The streets were laid out, well.. like streets. It’s as though they planned what they were doing (They did to some extent) it was well coordinated, and organized.  Albeit, they hadn’t had a rocket attack for ~18 months prior to my arrival, and on the day I arrived, there were like 6 rockets fired on us.  No one was hurt, so win!
      4. Dubai, UAE – The United Arab Emirates can be an interesting and cool place.   It is a Muslim country with a very strict and odd set of laws, but you must respect the laws of the nation you’re in, and I respectively did that.   I shared a lot of the photos, of both the Futuristic and advanced side of Dubai while at the same time I got a glance at the ancient ways things have been done for hundreds or thousands of years, poverty and royalty living side by side.   Whenever I leave or enter Afghanistan, it is always through Dubai so I’ll be no stranger to that place.
      5. Bagram – My ‘home’ away from home, where I live now and for the unforeseen future.    This is an old soviet base which they abandoned during the Soviet-Afghanistan war in the 70s or something? I can see why they abandoned it though.   To give you a sense of how it is here… The sun rises around 4am, it’s SUNNY and HOT by the morning, and it only gets hotter by the evening. We’re ~5000 feet above sea level, so we’re pretty close to the sun!   By around 7PM it gets dark and when it gets dark it gets COLD and WINDY.  It’s crazy, and the sand, dust and flour-like substance of dust/sand gets in everything.  If it’s raining a little bit, your hair will be plastered like cement.    So there ya have it!

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into life in Afghanistan,  and a brief idea of how things are for me.  Stay tuned to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates on activities, photos and you name it!

Don’t be a stranger! I’ll be home eventually! :)

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Posted in Afghanistan, Christopher Kusek | Comments (4)

Live from Afghanistan, an Update from @CXI – WILL HE TELL US WHAT HE’S DOING?!

April 11th, 2013

Here are some of the top questions I’ve been getting lately since I’ve been here in Afghanistan.

Why the hell are you in Afghanistan?!   What are you DOING there?!

I mean, sure I was a little… obtuse about details, for safety and security reasons when I shared things initially in my post Taking a stand and serving my country; or WTF is @CXI doing in Afghanistan?!? but I think I’m comfortable answering a few of these questions for you :)

So on the initial question, WHY am I here – refer to my blog post above and I think you’ll get that answered pretty easily! But more importantly…

What am I actually doing here!

So, I eluded to doing things with Storage… Virtualization… Cloud… etc.   Well, here is a little low-down at the best I can possibly offer you. :)

In 2011 Afghanistan NATO and International forces had ~800 bases or so, and then started closing down or transferring bases, take the 202 bases closed in 2012 alone and as we are here in 2013, more and more bases are being closed as we ready for the complete draw-down slated to finish Dec 31 2014.   So, you’re asking WTF ARE YOU DOING, STOP STALLING!  :)  

Where I come in, is as these bases start to close up, there’s infrastructure which gets decommissioned, data-centers closed, services shut down or consolidated.   And as the Afghanistan theatre and country lead for Virtualization and all the fun that falls underneath that… Well, let’s just say… There’s a whole lot of fun that falls underneath that! Between the sites which are shutting down and the ones which will continue running for a long time to come. :)  

Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea of what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and all of the evolution and change which goes with that!   I’ll provide more details, stories and so much more as time goes on, you can’t even begin to imagine the challenges and woes of high tech infrastructure in a warzone and as applicable I’ll share those stories here, at conference and beyond when I come home!    Also, I’m planning to do some ‘virtual’ VMUGs here for the guys on the ground who haven’t had that experience and if you’re a speaker/presenter who would like to try to remotely present let me know!

Some of you ask about sending me letters, care packages and what-not, feel free to send whatever you’d like to me at the address below!

Christopher Kusek
JNCC-A Task Force Signal
APO, AE 09354

I wish you all the best and don’t hesitate to reach out to me in the short and the long-term!   Eventually I’ll be coming home and the eventual adventures I’ll pursue when I come home, Safely.  :)

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Posted in Storage, Virtualization, vmware | Comments (2)

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