The US military and contractors are very much governed by all kinds of regulations. If you want to drive in any tactical vehicle you must wear a helmet, seatbelt, use your headlights – even during the day – and have a person act as a ground guide while backing up. If you want to sign out tools or use some types of equipment you must first take a class, get a license, and wear safety glasses. If you want to go to the shooting range, you must have a medic on hand, wear ear & eye protection, have multiple levels of instruction and “guards” and only then can you shoot a bullet 25 meters at a target. Sometimes all this is overkill, sometimes not. So why in the world is the movement of goods not affected by these safety rules?
But what is considered safe? You’d be amazed at what passes for safe in Afghanistan – all manner of pickup trucks chock full of Afghans, some in various stages of tumbling out of the truck bed, smiles on their faces as they travel at 20 kph to and from the front gate. The way Afghans crap, perilously perched on the seats of the port-a-johns, squatting over the hole while doing their business. At any time one could slip and end up with a leg in the blue liquid, squishing about. Then there are the flatbed trucks which haul our cargo everywhere in the country, most unusual of all.
It’s those flatbed trucks which vex me the most. I’m all for the transportation of goods, trust me. If it weren’t for those brave Afghan drivers and their flatbeds the majority of our troops would not get resupplied at all. Believe me, they’ve got a huge presence in the war effort. However, safety is not a concern for them or for the military who entrusts them with connexes of supplies. You see, when a shipping container is placed on a flatbed truck in the states it is locked down at each corner by heavy duty bolts. The bolts themselves are locked in place, preventing nothing from moving at all. In Afghanistan truckers use something totally different.
Here the truckers use straps. Scary isn’t it? A huge 25-45ft long metal connex is secured to a flatbed with the kind of straps you might see holding down a tarp. I’ve seen straps like this used in the states, but not for such an important job. I mean, at anytime the truck could lean, slide, hit a huge pothole – of which there are many – thereby shifting its immense cargo container. Do you think some woven strap at each corner is going to prevent disaster? Surely, they help and are better than nothing, but come on, for a military overly cautious and safety conscious how does one reconcile transporting our supplies in such an unsecure manner. Oh, I forgot, it’s Afghan standards. Inshahallah – it’s God’s will. Have you ever heard that saying? We hear it often. Well, when it’s my mail, equipment, supplies, fool or other shit moving from one place to another I’d prefer a heavy duty bolt to God’s will thank you.