Email from Afghanistan

I arrived in Bagram Air Force Base (BAF), Afghanistan on Sept. 27th, 2008, and over the course of two days, turned in my ammunition and sat through briefings about vehicle safety, family discord, suicide awareness, and mental health. Collectively, soldiers call them the “don’t-beat-your-wife classes.”

BAF is a sprawling military base full of shipping containers, new construction, gravel fields, military vehicles, hangars, fast food restaurants, Port-A-Johns and strangers in Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, French, Polish, and Egyptian uniforms, or with Lockheed Martin t-shirts, or Slavic accents and Kellog Brown & Root (a subsidiary of Haliburton) ID tags hanging from their necks. People would salute me and wear reflective belts at night, which, having newly arrived from the highly kinetic Kunar Province, felt ridiculous. (Read more of my essay on