An everyday tale of Nato being bonkers
OK, let’s be clear, all we wanted to do was to go and collect our ISAF (Nato) accreditation.
Well alright, we didn’t. We’d been told to do so by various emails from the outer reaches of The Pentagon here in Kabul and in Kandahar.
Frankly Stuart-the-Cameraman (for that is his actual name) and I had better things to do. Like sleep, or open a can of non-alcoholic malt beverage in the privacy of our hotel room.
But no, Sgt Otis Reynolds commanded via email that the accreditation had to be got and got this morning.
“Come over to the north gate of Kabul airport – military side“, he said.
“You mean the north side – the other side from the control tower?” Stuart-the -Cameraman asked.
“Where’s the contol tower?” replied Otis.
“I’m not familiar with that zone sir.”
“OK. Well. Er – are you by the mountains?”
“You know, the mountains. The big brown mountains with snow on top right by the airport. The mountains Otis – yeah? You see mountains? ”
“No sir, no mountains sir. We are north side.”
“OK,” said Stuart-the-Cameraman, “Then you must be Kabul side if you cannot see the mountains. Are you near Kabul Otis?”
“Kabul Otis. You know, Kabul? Kabul. The capital city Kabul. It’s at the aiport. Look Otis you have to have either the Hindu Kush mountains or Kabul yeah?”
“No Sir, no Kabul. We are north side.”
It took 45 minutes bouncing along mud-ozzing potholed tracks to get to the north side where we found some Afghan soldiers and not a lot else. Except of course, the Hundu Kush mountains.
“Sir – you go south side sir. Kabul side.”
So we did. Another lifetime passed of hip-replacement inducing potholes.
We walked towards the south gate.
“Stop. Don’t walk,” screamed a voice. American. Human. Heavily-armed voice in bunker.
“Well where do you want us to walk then ,” siad Stuart-the-Cameraman, “because we have come for our accreditations.”
If the voice had said:
“North gate” I might just possibly have died on the spot, but it did not. It said:
“OK – come”
So we did. And there before us, resplendent in non mud-spattered immaculate fatigues was Sgt Reynolds. I felt like we were old mates. Big handshakes. Smiles. Happiness. Because now the good Sgt would hand over our accreditations.
Well no. Because the accreditations are kept in the office on the north side (Hindu Kush) and he had come south side (Kabul) to meet us.
But he had not brought the passes with him. He’d just come to say hello it seems. We thought about asking why, why, why didn’t he bring the passes. But then he said:
“Oh – the northside office as a 12-minute car ride away,”. By this time we were both so psychologically eroded, that actually made sense.
Then he played his ace:
“Say guys – you wanna check in for your flight?”
“But we have no flight time to Helmand – they say it’s at least 10 hours away.”
“Yeah I guess. Kinda early really.”
“But you could get us our passes – we have 10 hours?.” I asked, sensing salvation at last.
“Hell no. That’s not gonna work. Why don’t you drop by tonight?”
Three hours, 20 odd miles, no passes.
And I still don’t know why I want an ISAF pass anyway?