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BLOG - On the Frontlines

By Amy K. Mitchell
USO, Vice President, Publications

Travelogue Entry #1

April 27, 2009

America's toughest tour consists of 25 team members. We are a mix of USO personnel (both public affairs and entertainment), our partner, Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) is a DoD organization dedicated to bringing up and coming entertainment to military bases around the world, our support team from MWR Afghanistan, and of course TK and his band of brothers.

Our 25th team member, call sign Bambi, is a doe-eyed videographer from LA, who until he stepped on the plane at Andrews, had no idea that we were headed to a CZ (combat zone), let alone to Afghanistan. But he jumped right in and has been not only a delight, but a trooper.

We've been traveling in close quarters for the past five days, some of us old friends, some of us enjoying getting to know one another. We don't look good, we definitely don't smell good but it doesn't matter as we've all been embraced by our military. At every step of the way, the support we have received has been phenomenal, with hundreds going out of their way to help us. Such is their nature.

When traveling with the military it is easy to forget that you are in a Third World country. You stay on bases that follow American logic in their civil planning, travel alongside fellow Americans, and eat American food. But you do notice the absence of doing simple tasks that back in the States are easy such as regular phone and Internet service 24/7 and plenty of clean, running water -- especially when you need them. For the most part, we have been out of touch with the world. Access to computers are difficult if you are not government and it has almost been a game of telephone as we get messages from others through third and fourth parties as we are tracked through the AOR.

And so begins Day Five of FOB hopping!