A blog providing news, analysis, insight, and commentary on the war in Afghanistan.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Gardens of Afghanistan
In a war torn country like Afghanistan there are sometimes few pleasures to enjoy. This is especially true if you are member of the international military spending a lot of your time on a huge Coalition base - built of concrete, crushed stone, and pre-fabricated buildings. A first impression of Afghanistan is that of a country with lots of open spaces covered with rock and sand and little in the way of vegetation. For someone from a forested area of the United States Afghanistan can appear to be a desolate region. However, a lot of my time was spent on Afghan military bases where I discovered the Afghan joy of gardening. While the ANA may not be the best fighting force in the world they certainly are adept in planting gardens. The ANA has an abundance of new bases with modern buildings (paid for by Uncle Sam) - and although the ANA might have trouble maintaining the buildings - they certainly can spruce the surrounding areas up quickly with gardens. This was especially true of the 209th ANA Corps in northern Afghanistan where on any given day over 200 ANA soldiers were engaged in gardening and landscaping activities. Many SFA advisors often wondered which was more important to the 209th - providing security for RC North or tending to their flowers. Certainly the ANA far outclassed the U.S. military in this area; the U.S. military bases were essentially very drab places to live. The only U.S. military attempt at providing vegetation on a meaningful level that I can remember (I am sure there were a few others) occurred in 2013 when Disney Avenue at Bagram Air Field got a row of trees planted from one end to the other. ISAF HQs compound in Kabul has a nice garden but I think it dates from when it was the Afghan Army Sports Center; I am sure that somewhere along the way there was an American general officer who wanted to pull the trees and plants out to put in some pre-fab buildings. Read more about the importance of gardening in Afghanistan in a online report by Lalage Snow posted on the Afghanistan Analyst Network (27 Dec 2014).