About this Blog

This Blog is for friends and family to receive updates on my adventure in Afghanistan. I'll try to update it on a regular basis, post pictures, and tell you a little bit about my experiences (both the good and the bad)!

Thanks for stopping by. Oh, and BEAT ARMY.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jalalabob Update - Finally!

Here's an update from your less than prolific mercenary correspondent!

Shortly after my 8 month stint in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, I redeployed to Basra, Iraq intent on completing my one-year adventure.  Basra was a completely different experience than was "J-Bad".  Living conditions were much better and I worked on an Army 2-Star's staff as opposed to the Brigade Commander level (O-6) in Afghanistan.  The work was just as interesting in Basra and folks there understood my capabilities which translates to my keeping busy -- a definite necessity!

The base in Basrah is a five-star resort compared to conditions in Afghanistan, and the fact that we are still fighting a very serious war in Afghanistan does not escape me.

I returned home in December for a much needed break and because my desire for service to our country (the job market sucks) is so strong, I decided to do yet another deployment, back to Basra.  It was a terrific break, spending time with family, relaxing, making a few Vegas trips, and reacquainted with the real (and crazy, upside down) world.

I arrived here yesterday, March 27th but the trip was not without some rocks and shoals (hazards to navigation for you non-nautical types).  Evidence of the first set of approaching rough seas became apparent when I discovered that all my qualifications for overseas deployment had expired since my last set of official medical exams and certifications back in September '09.  So I had to fill out a sheaf of government forms and get poked and prodded once more.  The lack of specific directions for what needed to be done was stunning, but some how I made it through after wearing out a few pens, burning tanks of gas, and replacing printer cartridges.

I left the US late at night on the 24th and made it to Doha, Qatar Airport about 12 hours later.  Once there, we were informed that the worst sand storm in 20 years was hitting Kuwait and that the airport was shutdown.  We finally got out of Doha 6 hours later arriving @ Kuwait Int'l @ 3 in the morning.  The trip was no where near over as I had to get my passport stamped for entry into Kuwait, collect my bags, and find a ride to the Logistics Support Area, "Ali Al Salem", a 1 hr. + ride and the airfield from which I would make the final leg of the trip to Basrah.

Spending a night @ Ali Al Salem is an experience I wish on no one!  It's basically a tent city with 14 bunk beds per tent.  Being that the rows of tents are sitting on sand mixed with coarse gravel, just moving my 140 lbs. of luggage around required reserving an All Terrain Vehicle.  The lights inside the tents are on 24/7 so I'm glad I remembered to bring a sleeping eye mask and ear plugs.

I finally arrived in Basrah on Sunday afternoon, and soon it was like I never left....,

As far as I can tell, the most important thing we're doing here now is preparing for all U.S. Forces to leave Iraq near the end of this year.  We're closely monitoring the roads that will be used and looking to stop any insurgent activity before it starts.

More, hopefully sooner than later!  My email address is still good; Bob.Rubin@GMail.com


Bob Rubin (ORSA)
JIEDDO Unit #62
Camp Basra, Iraq
APO AE 09374

h: (858) 271-5807

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Forgive me folks, for I have sinned, it's been over 2 months since my last confessional/update.

I'm really settled into a routine here--keeping much more reasonable hours than when I started out, but it's sustainable (no global warming pun intended).

The work is going well.  With all the data we've successfully collected, I have plenty to analyze so I'm a happy geek.  In so far as IEDs, I'd be much happier with the ability to do some sort of predictions off the historic data I report on.  No trends = no predictions.

My favorite excel spreadsheet is a dashboard that computes multiple metrics for how long  I have until the end of this deployment.  Got pie charts, bar charts, countdown timers, you name it!  231 days or 63% left to go...,

I debated back and forth about taking leave.  Hearing horror stories of folks getting stuck on the way home and back--having to sleep in transient tents, dragging my protective armor, losing pay plus ups, have all contributed to my current decision to not take leave and just stick it out until I can really enjoy a vacation once I get home.  Chris is in high gear campaign mode and can't afford time off either.  I guess emotions are losing out to common sense.

The weather continues to be surprising mild, we've had a little bit of rain but really don't even need a coat.  I'll have to start sending home my winter gear real soon.

We have sidewalks now on a large percentage of the routes I take to work, the gym, food, and the PX.  Never thought I'd appreciate concrete but walking on the golf ball sized rocks was getting old.  No mortar or rocket attacks since Christmas is also something to be appreciative of... thank you Taliban.

I've been watching some of the Olympics.  Curling is awesome--especially the Russian women's team hubba bubba!  There's a Marine Staff Sergeant who sits nearby who commented that "deployment goggles are worse than beer goggles".  That's a stretch since Army BDUs are not very flattering for the women..

It's always great to get email and I'm able to call Chris and the boys fairly frequently.  Greg's ship is getting ready for a yard period and he's been busy and having fun.  Matt's working hard in school and enjoying managing the house in Tempe. He's becoming a lean mean, Sun Devil machine too.  I'm so proud of them

Hope everyone is well!  You can easily email me at Bob.Rubin@gmail.com.

Bob Rubin

Bob Rubin, ORSA
CSE JTF Paladin
FOB Fenty, Jalalabad
APO, AE 09310

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last Update of the year 2009

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy Channukah. I haven't had a chance to update my blog recently but everything here continues to be okay.  On the evening of Christmas day, the FOB got hit with 3 rockets made from 107mm (Soviet/Russian?) shells.  No one was injured but one of the rockets came close to an ordnance magazine and another put a pot-hole in the runway.
Their targeting accuracy is no better than a water balloon slingshot, but every once in a while the Hadjis can score a hit on something important.  Not this time however.  That was the first time we've been hit by anything at all at this FOB in the 2 mos. I've been here.

There's a whole lot of construction on the base going on.  Most of it is for increasing the habitability for those already here.  I don't think that the surge will increase our numbers too much at this base.  Most of the surge will supplant troop numbers in the southern part of the country which has been much more kinetic.
I've been working in 2 disparate areas, the IED pattern assessment work and a set of metrics to measure Afghan population attitudes and perceptions.  We'll be sampling a set of chosen districts in our AO which consists of the provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, and Nuristan on a quarterly basis.  I created the first set of metrics using the famous principles of good MOEs.
I just started another task on my own volition, that of designing a curriculum for the Afghan Police in our AO based on an operational scenario tied to tracking down IED emplacers.  That one is interesting and I'm working with some law enforcement professionals (LEPs as we call them) who are former FBI agents.
I've been running and lifting weights, and trying to eat well.  I've definitely lost weight but it's a slow process.
The family's good.  Greg's ship is supposed to go in the yards but they keep getting bumped by CSG escorts.  Being that the FFGs don't generally deploy with a CSG they're in the back of the line.  I'm hoping his skipper does something to keep the JOs working towards their quals.  Greg passed his CICWO board on the first try which tells me that the command has confidence in him.
Matt's home from ASU until after the winter break.  He's doing well in school and becoming a serious student.  He's also becoming a lean, mean fighting machine!
Chris's campaign continues to move forward smartly.  She seems to be the frontrunner, attending close to 90 campaign events since declaring her candidacy!.
That's about it.  Have a very happy, healthy, and hopefully prosperous New Year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

13 December 2009

Thanks to some gentle persuasion from friends, I've been peer-pressured to update this blog. I apologize for being less than prolific!

Today's absolutely gorgeous.  Deep into an Afghanistan winter, it's clear, sunny and about 80 out today and the day after KICKING THE HELL OUT OF ARMY!

What the Woops here lacked in enthusiasm prior to the game, they have more than made up for in apathy both before and after.  The game aired at midnight in Jalalabad, only the crazy and fool-hearty stayed up to watch the whole thing -- me and the Chaplain (USNA '86).  Now it's on to the Texas Bowl and a tough game against Missouri.

Chris attended the annual party at Seau's in San Diego and it was good to see pictures of friends!  Greg watched with USNA classmates in San Diego.

Life continues to be good here, working the counter-IED analysis along with measuring Afghan population attitudes and perceptions.

It's been tough missing family and friends, to enjoy the good times and being there to lend support in the trying ones.  It's painful to listen to soldiers' stories -- missing their young wives, girlfriends, and young kids.

I was glad to hear that we'll be surging 30,000+ soldiers and dismayed at even the hint of a timeline for withdrawal.  OUr biggest challenge is building the Afghan population's trust in it's government and building an Afghan army and police force that is well-trained and capable of defending the population against Al Qaida and the Taliban.  Crippling the drug trade and stopping the resultant flow of money is an enabler as well.

Thanks for reading!  Be well.

Bob Rubin

Bob Rubin, ORSA
CSE JTF Paladin
FOB Fenty, Jalalabad
APO, AE 09310

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in Afghanistan

Holiday spirit among people who are forced to be away from home is a wondrous thing.  Despite being away from loved ones, there's a distinct feeling that occurs when you're among people who are working hard towards a cause larger than themselves and sacrificing by being away from home during the holiday season.  There's a spirt in the air of joy and outward glee and yet an acknowledgement of a little bit of inner sadness.

I remember the good feelings during Army week at the Academy (back when the Army-Navy game was the Saturday after Thanksgiving), and Christmas joys during finals week.  Then the bitter sweetness of being at sea over Christmas and New Years a few times.

Great memories of taking that long drive up to the in-laws in Central CA with the kids, with all the presents, while they humored me as I listened to Christmas songs in endless repetition.  They complained then, but now they find a way to humor their old dad :-).

It's a crisp, very clear morning here in Jalalabad.  The snow-capped peaks of the Tora Bora mountains can clearly be seen to the southeast.

Breakfast in the DFAC this morning was slim pickings, yet chairs and tables were being rearranged.  Special Thanksgiving tablecloths were being layed out with about 50 civilians and military personnel laying out dishes of nuts as a few hundred turkeys were being cooked and basted in the kitchen.

Folks here in the Fusion Center can't wait to start playing Christmas music as soon as the last piece of pumpkin or pecan pie (topped with ice cream of course) is consumed at early dinner.

My next door neighbors in San Diego, the Ilkos have graciously invited Chris and the two boys over for dinner, I miss them a lot but I'm also thankful I'm here amongst America's best and brightest soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

As a special gift on Thanksgiving I got to watch us launch a barrage of ATACMS rockets fired from a mobile launcher on base at a very high-value target.  Great for morale!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

12 November

Everything here is good, I'm definitely getting settled in. Pretty much like living at an airfield surrounded by a construction yard.  My room/hut is small but comfortable, the food is good, gym is adequate (been working out a lot).
My job's pretty normal.  I have a workspace inside of the intelligence fusion center and get to see anything and everything.  Amazing mix of soldiers, some sailors, marines, special forces, "other" agencies, FBI.
The base has all kinds of aircraft except for fighter/bomber tactical types.  Lots of UAV activities.
Surprisingly, I'm keeping "normal" hours.  Get up at around 5, work until 4:30 or so.  In bed by 9.  Workout mostly between 6 and 7 at night.
Internet access is good but it's restricted to what the Army feels isn't offensive, or a bandwidth hog.  Totally understandable it is owned by the government.  I do get all my email and that makes it a lot easier to be away like this.
There's an MWR 'tent' (military welfare and rec) with a pool table.  I played the other night, lifted weights with a couple of the guys and had a cigar, shower, went to bed, read my book.  Very cool.  Very normal.
I'm definitely losing weight.  Probably down about 10 pounds since leaving but I know I had to tighten my belt two notches.
I had a good meeting with the Brigade Commander.  He's a Colonel, a little younger than me.  He chided me on receiving a "second rate" education being that he has an Operations Research degree from the Colorado School of Mines vice mine being from the Naval Postgraduate School. There's also a lot of good natured ribbing about Navy vs. Army.  Navy beating Notre Dame for the 2nd time in 45 years gave me a few bragging rights!
Presently, I'm gauging population attitudes and perceptions in our Area of Operations based on a survey conducted by the Division Commander (our boss).
The purpose of the survey's is twofold: Serve the population but also serve our ability to protect ourselves...,
Now that the elections have been cancelled we are concentrating on activities that curtail the drug trade, halt the production and laying of IEDs, and supporting the populace in job creation, education, and construction.
I've got to say that we are doing everything humanly possible to succeed here in Afghanistan I hope that Congress and the President follows suit!

Here's the best current address I have for me:

Bob Rubin, ORSA
HHC, 4th ID, 4th BCT (S2)
FOB Fenty, Jalalabad
APO, AE 09310

Monday, November 2, 2009

1 November

1 November


1) Blew out my back lifting weights..., not so fast there, old man!

2) Going on day 5 of trying to get my tools working so I can be productive.

3) Got little or no sleep lastnight since my neighbor has decided that playing Call of Duty (without headphones) all night long was important than his, or my sleep.

Other than the above, things are goood :)  Getting a lot of emailing and reading done.  The Comic News Network (CNN) is playing in my workspace all day long so I'm becoming a big Obama supporter through brainwashing and repetition (not quite).

On the promise anonymity, a liberal but dear friend of mine sent the below -- good preparation for the mid-mid term election day:

For those that don't know about important history ... Here is a condensed version:

Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic
hunters/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer
and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of
and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the
beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were
the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:
1 . Liberals, and
2. Conservatives.
Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning
of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented
yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be
invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages
were formed.
Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night
while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as
the Conservative movement.
Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live
off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's and doing the
sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the 
Liberal movement.
Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. Those became
known as girlie-men. Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the
domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy, group hugs, and
the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer
that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most
powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized
by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer
white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef
well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare. Another
interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have higher
testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury
attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are
liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't
fair to make the pitcher also bat.
Conservatives drink domestic beer, mostly Bud or Miller. They eat red
meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big game hunters,
rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical
doctors, police officers, engineers, corporate executives, athletes, members of 
the military, airline pilots and generally anyone who works productively.
Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to
work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing.. They like to govern the producers
and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are
more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in
Europe when conservatives were coming to America . They crept in after
the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for
Here ends today's lesson in world history:

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily
respond to the above before forwarding it.

A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute
truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true
believers and to more liberals just to tick them off.

And there you have it. Let your next action reveal your true self.