Analysis Military

The Taj: A Story About Sustainable Aid

In early 2013, World Affairs published an article on USAID efforts in Afghanistan. Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan outlined many abject failures resulting from (at that time) the 100 Billion in U.S. Aid dollars spent on Afghanistan. That figure has close to doubled by now and it is important to understand that the vast majority of those billions never left Washington D.C. USAID works through large aid contractors headquartered in D.C. or suburbs like Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Those companies operated in Afghanistan using the UN Minimal Occupation Safety Standards (UN MOSS) for Afghanistan.

UN MOSS required compounds housing internationals to have armed guards, Western Private Military Company PSD teams, armored SUVs, RPG screens on top of extended walls, safe rooms, emergency radios, watches, etc. Those security requirements would eat up 40 to 50% of a project budget and result in restricted travel for aid teams. Another 40 or so percent of the money went to the overhead of the Big Aid contractors. Walk into the headquarters of DAI or Chemonics (which are super high end digs) and see for yourself the hundreds of highly paid (many former USAID and State Department) professional humanitarians who are making big money to accomplish very little. They do the same thing in Africa, they are not effective, they support abusive regimes, and they get paid a ton of cash to execute their risk averse, failed, aid models. Of the 100 billion or so spent on Afghan aid I suspect less than 10% of that money was actually spent on Afghan aid.

This is a story about effective aid in Jalalabad done by a variety of humanitarian groups by internationals who were there on their own dime. The story starts at the Taj, a guesthouse in Jalalabad that was home to a UN funded road building crew out of Australia. They had built a tiki bar and a big swimming pool during their stay; that tiki bar was packed every Thursday night by NGO workers, contractors, the occasional SF team, UN types etc. — whoever lived in or near Jalalabad.

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The Aussies doing a hail and farewell at a typical Thursday night for the Taj bar. Jalalabad was safe-ish and there were dozens of internationals living and working outside the wire.

I was living at the Taj in late 2007 watching over three Japanese agricultural specialists who worked for the Japanese aid organization JICA. Unlike USAID, the Japanese lived and worked in the field and oversaw their projects personally.

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The UN road crew were armed, they had armored vehicles to include old South African mine resistant armored carriers
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The Aussies were prolific road builders and were finishing up a hard top road from Jalalabad to the last village at the very end of the Khogyani district. The mountains right behind this village contain the Tora Bora cave complex. This was the end of the road as it were.

Unfortunately, the UN road crew lost their contract and pulled out, leaving  my Japanese clients and I in a bind. We couldn’t pay for the entire Taj, nor for a new generator that would have to replace the UN generator, and we couldn’t afford the diesel to run a new generator even if we had one.

The first night that we were on our own I returned in a funk. It was  cold, rainy, foggy, and as I got out of the car I heard some kind of new age electronic music pumping out of the speakers in the Tiki bar. I walked over to find two hippies, one of whom poured a water glass of Captain Morgan and added a splash of Coke. He handed it to me and said “Don’t worry about a thing Tim-san (my JICA nickname) we’re the Synergy Strike Force (SSF) and we’re here to help”. The other hippie explained that they specialized in “prosocial cyberizing in complex combat zones” which cleared things up (not).

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They were playing Groove Salad (a nicely chilled plate of ambient/downtempo beats and grooves) on SOMA FM, the official Tiki Bar radio station, and they were both burners. The Taj tiki bar had just become a burner bar because the Synergy Strike Force attends Burning Man every year, and as there can never be enough burner bars in the world, The Taj Tiki Bar was now one of them.

Here are a couple of long, interesting articles about the Synergy Strike Force in Jalalabad: one from Foreign Policy and one from Pacific Standard.

Dr Dave
Hippie #1 Dave Warner, PhD, MD, former army infantryman, leader of the Synergy Strike Force. Dave is asking hard questions about one of his projects in this picture
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Hippie #2 Ken Kraushaar, aka Baba Ken – Former Navy Surface EW type, Government Contractor, Free Range Geek and Reluctant Humanitarian according to his Reachback Blog.

Drink in hand, I listened to my two newest best friends as they outlined their plans for the next few years. These plans included field testing a portable light weight, high transmission power GATR satellite dish (with free uplink), setting up an MIT FabLab for the local kids and college students, using the FabLab to build reflectors and transmitters to boost the Taj internet (we had a super fat pipe due to the GATR antenna) out to the Nangarhar University and the Nangarhar Teaching Hospital via a DIY WiFi network.  They also planned normal stuff like sinking wells, building schools, boosting educational choices for women and general humanitarian stuff like that.

They ended up doing all that and more, additional SSF team members started arriving in the spring of 2008, many staying through to the end of July (when all of them pulled out for Burning Man). Their main concerned was getting enough beer and wine to keep the bar going. That was easy back in 2008, when internationals could drive onto Camp Warehouse (a NATO base east of Kabul) and buy all the beer and wine they wanted at the European military exchanges. The tricky part was getting it back to Jalalabad, since the National Directorate of Security (NDS) ran a dodgy checkpoint in the Kabul gorge and going around that via the Latabad Pass was too risky. We often had to wait until they finished up in the evening before driving back to Jalalabad. I wrote a post about losing some expensive body armor at that checkpoint which can be found here.

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This is the NDS checkpoint just east of Kabul. To my right is one of the NDS guys, to his right Haji jan, my driver and to my left the guy in charge of the roadblock. They are in the process of taking the armored vest from two of the MIT grad students I was driving to the airport. I had a license for my body armor and weapons and was allowed to keep them.
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Beer runs were best done during the early morning on Fridays which is the start of the weekend in Islamic lands. The chance of running into a checkpoint then was close to zero.

I thought they were spooks but knew enough about the CIA to know they did not send people to live outside the wire. It turned out they were sort of spookish — which they fessed up to when the GATR ball arrived. The GATR (pictured above with Ken) was on loan from the developers who wanted to see how long it would hold out in an austere environment. It needed a dedicated satellite link to work and that came from the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) who wanted to see how much throughput they could get from this system. That uplink cost DARPA 15k a month.

Dave and Ken had stayed at the Taj before with the Aussies and were thrilled to find another American who would help keep the place running. They were also working closely with the most effective aid organization I’ve ever seen, the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club. Jalalabad is a sister city of San Diego which is why the Rotary club was involved. It was the La Jolla Rotary Club who would fund the schools, donated the high tech medical equipment, built dormitories at the Nangarhar University, and started multiple training programs for women. None of this was done with taxpayer funds or coordinated with USAID. This was pure aid raised from donations and administered by people on the ground who knew what they were doing.

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Baba Ken, Jenn Gold of the Synergy Strike Force and Fary Moini of the Golden Triangle Rotary Club. This is the face of aid that works, but it requires skin in the game, language skills, and time on deck.

The Rotary Club  did coordinate with the various Afghan ministries responsible for education, women’s programs, etc… because sustainable aid requires the recipients be able to sustain what they have been given. With schools that is done through the Afghanistan Ministry of Education which is why I find the book Three Cups of Tea suspect. Getting a bunch of elders to allow you to build them a school is now the most common way for remote villages to get foreigners to build them a barn for their farm animals.  Building schools is easy, making sure they run correctly requires skin in the game and close coordination with the correct Afghan authorities.

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SSF member Mullah Todd Huffman shopping in the Jalalabad bazaar. That beard of his was instant street cred with the Afghans. One of Todd’s projects was Alive Afghanistan which monitored the 2009 Presidential election in real time. FRI post is here and BBC story here.

A few weeks after the Synergy Strike Force arrived, I started receiving emails from Amy Sun, an MIT Ph.D. Engineer (literally a rocket scientist) who would be running the FabLab Jalalabad project. The emails covered purchasing a generator in Kabul and receiving the FabLab equipment. We got the generator just as the weather started to heat up; getting the equipment through customs was easy because it was being donated and would remain after the project was completed. Getting onto Bagram Airbase with a rented truck was not difficult in 2008, nor was driving to the FedEx hanger and picking up the lab equipment. The shipment included a ShopBot CNC (computer numerical controlled) industrial router/plasma system, a Fusion M2 32 CO2 Laser system for engraving and cutting, tons of computers, high end printers, and industrial filtration systems. The complete load out for an MIT FabLab can be found here.

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The ShopBot installed and ready –

Our daily routine included a trip to the Jalalabad Airfield (FOB Fenty) to hit the gym and DFAC with the local ANSO safety representative, Jack Binns, a former Canadian infantry officer who had been deployed to Afghanistan in 2001. We were sitting in the DFAC comparing notes one day when we attracted some attention.

I noticed a group of guys in civilian clothes and one of them, who had that strange mountain man physiognomy (close eye inner corner distance, nose mouth angle etc..), was starring at us.

Kerry P
Kerry Patton (on the left) was the first Human Terrain Team guy to come over and talk with us. He’s a writer, actor, director, and currently running for congress in the 12th district of Pennsylvania.

I’m kidding — Kerry Patton, who was on the Human Terrain Team for brigade working N2KL (Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, and Lagham provinces), came up and introduced himself like a regular guy. Kerry played a Hillbilly on the Outsiders TV series but he doesn’t really look like one. We told Kerry and his team leader, Baba D (introduced weeks ago in this post) about the “Beer for Data” program and they instantly saw the value of hanging out at the Taj on Thursdays nights. Better yet, they talked the Brigade Commander into allowing them to overnight at the Taj, and even better, because they could not rent rooms with military funds, they paid in diesel.

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Thursday nights with the N2KL Human Terrain Team, DAI NGO workers and the Synergy Strike Force were busy.

This first to arrive for the summer-2008-FabFolk-surge was Amy Sun, who was taking time off her regular job to get an engineering Ph.D. at MIT. She started organizing the FabLab and making up lists of people she needed to see and places she had to go. It was a long list, I mentioned that renting a car and driver in Afghanistan was costly and that when you included an ex-pat armed PSD guy, like myself, you’re normally paying $1,000 a day. She laughed out loud, not a polite laugh either, but the kind of laugh associated with gut busting professional comedian routines;  when she gathered herself (and that took a long time) she smiled and said “Yeah, like that’s going to happen.”

The Taj had synergy and we always found a way to get our guests where they needed to go and provided armed escorts when the situation called for it. FabFolk are volunteers from around the world who come to help stand up FabLabs. The Burners of Synergy Strike Force also self-funded their travel and lodgings, as did the various Rotarians who showed up to help on the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club. None of these groups had the funds or the intention of paying for security, and at the time, unless they were traveling outside of Jalalabad, they didn’t need armed escort.

Every Thursday night the bar was packed. ISAF was getting a better understanding of local atmospherics by having the Human Terrain Team hanging out with the local NGO workers and even better all of them paid their bar tabs promptly.

Amy-with-ANA
Dr. Amy Sun hanging out some ANA soldiers while I change a flat on the Kabul – Jalalabad road, at night, with a load of beer, because we had to wait for the NDS checkpoint to go home.

Amy set up the FabLab while Baba Ken and Dave held Shura’s with the elders in Bagrami (the village outside Jbad where the Taj is located) about getting their kids into attending the FabLab classes.

baba-K-shura
Baba Ken working the local elders in Bagrami

In matter of weeks, the FabLab was open and busy. Amy had recruited young women from Nangarhar University (hat tip La Jolla Rotary Club for the introductions) as instructors and they organized daily shifts for both girls and boys.

The FabLab was an instant hit. Amy Sun wrote four updates about the project on Free Range International and they can be found here, here, here, and here. They are interesting reading, but the FabFolks were not done. They surged back in the fall to spread out the internet with the help of the older FabLab regulars. Here is how that was described in this article in Wired about the SSF.

“At the Fab Lab, some of the [Afghan] students came up with the idea of using point-to-point antennas and off-the-shelf routers to create a mesh network, to share internet around Jalalabad,” explains one of those expats, Todd Huffman, a 32-year-old San Franciscan. “Initially, MIT students were using a laser cutter at the Fab Lab to fabricate point-to-point dishes. Afghan students quickly figured out you didn’t need a laser cutter – you could build them out of tin cans and whatnot. That’s the core of how this got started.”

FabLabs stress working with “found objects” to create solutions for technical problems. Below is a reflector made from a USAID 5 gallon vegetable oil can.

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USAID 5 gallon vegetable oil cans made perfect reflectors

Balsa wood, chicken wire and cheap routers caught completed the local internet system.  A picture of one of the routers is below.

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One of the DYI WiFi routers being installed in Jalalabad.  Said Jalal (left) from Bagrami and Steve (right) from Seattle atop the water tower near the long haul link from the Fab Lab. Said Jalal is a high school student. Steve recently worked in the Dean’s office in the MIT Sloan School and is now in Seattle goofing off — restoring and flying WW2 era aircraft
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The Jalalabad mesh network

Once the internet was established from the Jalalabad teaching hospital to the Nangarhar University, the FabFolk started in on other projects they had raised cash or equipment for. Seeding the local school with cheap, durable laptops was one of those projects. The photographs that follow are from this FabLab update posted in February, 2009.

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We’ve chased away the other Taj guests from the dining table by playing with our “Hundred Dollar Laptop”s with built-in Pashto keyboards… while eating dinner. We charge the laptops at the Fablab and loan them out for users to take home or on field trips.
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Andreas and Lucy from DC getting the OLPCs ready for a mini-lesson. Lucy has a BS in Biochemistry, MS in Applied Anatomy & Physiology, is former Navy, and is a DOD analyst.
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Smari from Iceland concentrating hard while peaking an antenna in Jalalabad City. Smari studied Mathematics at the University of Iceland and is currently working as an IT projects manager.
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Carl from South Africa and Naqueeb from Jalalabad/Peshawara configuring and peaking a router. Carl is currently a Physics / Math PhD student at Cambridge University in the UK. Dr. Naqueeb just passed his exams in the Medical School in Jalalabad.
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Keith from Boston tethering down an antenna on the water tower for the downlink to the hospital. Keith has a BS in Biomedical Engineering Sciences from Harvard and most recently helped found a medical devices startup.
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Ryan from Hawaii and 6th grade boys from Bagrami. Ryan has a PhD from MIT in Urban Planning and is now working on the Hawaii airport light rail project. Ratafullah, the boy on the left, is the leader among equals of the T-shirt Club.
Logan
My son Logan came and stayed at the Taj with us for several months. He helped out with the FabLab and ran the bar for me too. Here he is about to lug one of the internet routers up to the top of a water tower in downtown Jalalabad.

The Synergy Strike Force got some good press coverage which helped raise funds in the short-term, but finding enough donation pathways to sustain their operations over the long-term became a problem.

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Dave Warner and Martha Raddatz of ABC news at one of the Rotary Club schools. The desks are piled on the roof so they could fit more children into the classrooms.
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SSF member Kate Ludicrum doing computer training with local school girls. She also repaired several dozen donated medical machines at the Teaching Hospital.
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Brandon Mendoza. SSF team member from San Diego, CA on the cover of the NYT’s testing one of the router nodes in Jalalabad
Kay Danes
International author, humanitarian, and Rotarian Kay Danes (left) spent some time at the Taj as part of the La Jolla Rotary surge. She wrote about it in Beneath The Pale Blue Burqa

There was a time when the combined efforts of the FabLab, La Jolla Rotary Club, and Synergy Strike Force were making a difference. But it didn’t last. By the end of 2010, the security situation had taken a turn for the worse. Attacks inside of Jalalabad increased dramatically which resulted in most of the international aid projects moving their operations to Kabul. The Synergy Strike Force (who like the La Jolla Rotary club stayed in Jalalabad ) was always looking for additional funding and did attract some additional DARPA funding, but it was too little and too late.

Jbad Vbied
This army MRAP was hit by a car bomb (SVIED) on the Jalalabad bridge. He was coming from Kunar province, prior to 2010 this was rare, after 2010 it was a common occurrence.

The GATR experiment lasted almost two years, double the amount of time we thought we would have the fatpipe internet. When we lost access to the dedicated satellite uplink, the Jalalabad WiFi mesh network started to fail. Despite starting several revenue raising projects, the Jbad FabLabbers lost momentum around the same time they lost the internet link. The FabLab was moved into the Jalalabad Mayor’s administrative compound in 2011 when the security situation degraded past the point where it was safe at the Taj.

Knowable Peace

Not every aid program in Afghanistan involved government funding and not all of them failed. The Golden Triangle Rotary Club remains active in Jalalabad. But what about the dozens of men and women who came, on their own dime, to help out in a town that was inside the front lines of a nasty insurgency? Did they make a difference?

They did — they made a huge difference. Baba Ken still mentors his Jbad Geek Squad, and all of us who lived at the Taj remain in touch with  friends in Jalalabad. The computers and equipment are still there, but the security situation is terrible. ISIS-K, (Daesh) targets Jalalabad frequently; last May they killed one of our friends, an Afghan SSF team member, and San Diego Sister Cities Foundation Member Hedayatullah Zaheer Khan. I did a podcast about that (link here); a Rockefeller Brothers Fund press release about the death of our friend Zee can be found here.

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Baba Ken and Jim Gant. All the cool kids stayed at the Taj when they were in town.

Our friend Zee was targeted by Daesh because he had organized a Cricket tournament. Here’s a description of him from the press release linked above:

Khan, who was known to friends and colleagues as Zee, dedicated his life to uniting people and creating peace. He was a passionate and courageous leader who worked to empower the marginalized and unite communities across ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic divides. He believed ardently in his country and inspired all who crossed his path with his unwavering vision for a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan. Zee was respected by both tribal leaders and government officials. His ideas and advice were sought by local institutions and international agencies.

Just 32 years old at the time of his death, Zee was known for the poetry festivals, cricket matches, and other public events he organized, as well as the computer labs he built in isolated border communities. Creating shared spaces for human connection, he believed, was the key to sustainable peace. In April, Zee participated in an RBF-supported conference of young leaders working together toward the realization of a common vision for Afghanistan.

Losing Zee like that was painful, but there is a bright side to this story which is masked by a sense of outrage over another senseless loss. That bright side is that there are more than one Zee, he’s one of many Afghans who are active trying to make their country a better place because they met Dave Warner and Ken Kraushaar. Dave and Ken were the ones who spotted them, mentored them, trained them, and introduced them to the international aid community. Without Dave and Ken there would have been no Zee.

The Synergy Strike Force, The La Jolla Rotary Club and the FabFolk touched a lot of Afghans in ways that changed their life trajectories. Those Afghans are still there, they remain in touch, and someday we all hope that they end up out of harm’s way.  It’s worth remembering that not every story that came of Afghanistan was bad — some were uplifting and worth sharing again.

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Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

It is a great story, Baba. I’m sorry that it was short lived. Seem a lot of people really put their hearts into this project. Thank you for sharing.

Stephen Robert Brown
Guest

The La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club remains very much involved in Jalalabad. We currently run internet connected computer labs in 13 public highs schools for boys and girls (30,000 student beneficiaries to date); provide ESL and IT training at Nangarhar University’s Faculty of Education (4,500 student beneficiaries to date) and provide a female sports program for volleyball and table tennis at 9 public high schools (750 student beneficiaries to date). We are a 501(c)3 organization supported by private donations which have been increasingly hard to come by. I can be reached at StephenRbrown@att.net President, La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary… Read more »

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

Thank you Stephen for the continued work your organization does to help a brighter future for these young people. You create opportunity where there might not be one. Well maybe there are other opportunities, but certainly not with the positive influence your org brings to the table. I will do what I can to help spread the word about your organization. I’m sure it’s hard to find funding. If one wanted to make a donation, how would one contribute?

Stephen Robert Brown
Guest

A contribution can be mailed to the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club Foundation,14918 Rancho Nuevo, Del Mar, CA 92014.Any amount is welcome. Or go to: http://www.sandiegojalalabadsistercities.org/donate.html

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

Thank you Stephen! I will share your story and the link and address with friends and family.

Stephen Robert Brown
Guest

If you send me an e-mail with your e-mail address, I can send you more detailed information about our programs. Thank you for your interest.

Joni Smith
Guest
Joni Smith

Great. I’d be glad to learn more about your programs.

BabaKen
Guest

STEVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man do I miss you guys. Readers — do anything you can to support these folks, share the inforama.
Rotarians Steve n Fary are legends in the East. An incredible inspiration for humanity !

Mason
Member
Mason

Absolutely incredible. I was introduced to the Taj in a few ways, but most recently reading “American Spartan”, and there you are with Jim Gant. First, I have always wanted to go to Burning Man, second, I am a network geek, Third, on learning about the “Taj”, of course I daydreamed about using my skills to setup ad hoc networks with off the shelf stuff. Thank you for this article, you just hit all the high points for things I daydream about from a “what if” scenario. Plus you just fleshed out the folks, efforts, and accomplishments by the folks… Read more »

Mason
Member
Mason

opps, I meant, there is Baba Ken with Jim Gant!

Baba Ken
Guest

Gant is a badass ! Unlike Timsan – I stayed away from the base or the battle rattle, Jim was an exception when we saw the synergy of his ops. I was a follower of Flynns “Fixing Intel.” Heres an early telecom semi interview from the Baba Deck. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EDwXufXJYQ

Mason
Member
Mason

Place holder, coming back to this, home for lunch, ran out of time. lol.

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

“American Spartan”, one of my favorites.

Mason
Member
Mason

I got it because of your recommendation Mic! Can’t thank you enough!

baba ken
Guest

For the geek in u. 😉

Mason
Member
Mason

Oh. My. Lord. When you hit that 3825, I was glued to the screen. What I saw was a OSW downlink with some caching boxes (to improve local response time?). As you walked through the 3825 connections I was particularly impressed with the management/remote access pains you went through to access the router. So you could work on it from anywhere? Your NAT translations for local machines to be protected. I have been eating and breathing Cisco Routers ever since the little 700’s, 1841’s all the way up to the 7000 series. Still have some 3925’s burning on my edge,… Read more »

baba ken
Guest

Believe it or not, I had NEVER touched a cisco router in my life, i was a computer geek for sure, but not at that level – had to learn QUICKLY.. a nice script was written for me by the boys at APL.. flawless ! / a Few years later – we morphed to please.. / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUWZevwmRuA

Mason
Member
Mason

Config scripts! Make deployment easy, but writing them to accommodate your setup took some know how a good router person. I am watching the vids will comment soon!

baba ken
Guest

we had this shit mapped out, the HUB at taj, my spokes at Nangarhar U and Public Hospital, this was pre FAB… – FabFI blew it up.. incredible skillz.. i just stepped back and ran the bar after babaT went south..

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/114915294945195040940/album/AF1QipMEyBZ_p9t2CipvhogU03nvg7RAFE6TdtTj35pa

baba ken
Guest

The BNC threaded connectors on the modem, where did those run too? Those were my Rcv and Transmit cables to the GATR // The trick was learning peak the signal .. — its cool getting to share this stuff.. Thx Mason../

Mason
Member
Mason

I love that you are sharing all this, I really appreciate it, the thanks is from me to you. I will keep digesting and asking. This is wonderful practical applications of tech to share!

Mason
Member
Mason

mistake, mod remove.

Mason
Member
Mason

Amazing that small adjustments with handles could tune it like it did. Also, I noticed the center line and instructions on the brick, for alignment? Ahh found them on Google, really slick, I had no idea this tech existed. Dish is suspended in the “balloon” allows for that nice alignment without all the rigid hardware. This is seriously Mad Max field tech. K, Ku bands, others. Used in Katrina and other applications. So glad you wrote this up!

baba ken
Guest

IM big on KA Spot beam tech – just not available there.. at the time. /
We used C band dedicated channel – the full 256 .. at a stupid price, but we had to try something other than ISI pipelines in Nangargar. Including fiber run from Torkham gate. We called it Unity Net – but that purged from the history books.

babaKen
Guest
Mason
Member
Mason

Ahhhh 256K, I remember when ISDN speeds was the “fo shizzle”, and everybody was happy with that. Nowadays I push 500M symmetrical across two redundant 3925’s into an ATT MPLS cloud and we peer BGP federations. Hell Ken, I remember when dial-up modems came out at 14.4K, doubled to 28.8K and I though I had died and gone to heaven.

Mason
Member
Mason

Man you are tweaking all my nerd pleasure nodes. Stacks of 3925’s, Cisco outdoor WAP’s. Directional antenna’s. Still going over all the pics. You are a rockstar man, a great thing you did for those folks. All that stuff was probably provisioned as “thick” standalone AP’s, no Wireless LAN Controller, unless you had a 3925 running (3825?) running WLC code? Great work, really really, awesome what you all did for those folks.

BabaKen
Guest

drop me an email, prefer startmail – or proton if possible, ill share some stuff not open yet // to be very clear, dave and I stayed uncleared – for a specific reason… no rules was required — reachback@startmail.com

Mason
Member
Mason

Done, expect something from a proton account.

BabaKen
Guest

Here is a deeper debre on how to set the GATR – yer right, I chalked out instructions for the Jbad Geek Squad training gigs.. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Duf7YomR3s

BabaKen
Guest

work hard, play hard – flashback march madness.. i think it was 2011-

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

Really incredible story of what you were able to do without the help of government but with ever day extraordinary people. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad to know there are still people there who are trying to make a difference. I’m sad about Zee. But seems it is the risk all Afghans must take for a different and hopefully brighter future. I’m amazed at the ingenuity to build the routers etc out of parts and things laying around. I love DIY stuff. And laughed when I first saw the term in your article because I though it can’t be Do… Read more »

baba ken
Guest

There was help from the Government.. in sporadic shades, but it was deemed too risky to follow through with. Mos Def outside of the box kinda ops, but at least they DID try to help and send in a team of – operators to evaluate the gig. Sadly, lead of said team said it was a fail even though we had educated thousands of kid to use the NET – o WELL…. deep subject. / k

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

Haha, deemed too risky, but yet you guys did it. And from what Stephen just wrote, The La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club is still helping. Sometimes our government is too big for it’s own good. A simple decision or choice becomes mired down in bureaucracy. Too bad they considered it a fail. I’m sure all the kids it supported don’t feel that way. Thanks for bringing this story. Has been very interesting to learn what those outside our government have done to help Afghanistan. I hope and pray the effort has not been lost on the Afghani people.

BabaKen
Guest

Not to be a negative nancy, but it really was a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity for Stability Ops at time when we could ACT – We kinda colored outside the lines when we had too, but we had been heart beats on the ground for a couple years, when I reached out to find ANY other similar civ/mil project. ZERO – I was stunned, I mean I watch movies n stuff, surely there was another cultural infiltration and exploration gig for “white information” that was not locked down under TS/SCI kinda thing. — ZERO. BabaTim fails to mention –… Read more »

BabaKen
Guest

okay, i got the time line a little mixed up, tim was JICA, till taj was deemed a not safe house, so they moved out, We had had.. some slight issues.. my very good friend, chief of CT Counter Terrorism – was blown up… The owner of Taj was gunned down in a family land dispute, the manager of Taj was gunned down, then Zee was wacked. Tim handed off the JICA to the BOT and hooked up with a USAID project – FIRUP – which was genius. At the time the Talibs were paying 25. usd a DAY, (who… Read more »

BabaKen
Guest

Im big on the Pashtun Wali – The Pahtan Honor Code, it will keep you alive — not so much on those books she quotes.. // but it was standard talking points at the time.

https://reachback.org/book/2013/05/20/unitynet/

BabaKen
Guest

At least the ABC bit got its 2 minutes.. /– CBS and Logan never did the 60 mins bit.. – Dave clearly outlined the fails. / — https://reachback.org/book/2013/07/07/logan/

BabaKen
Guest

Okay, they did DO a writ-bit, but we were looking for a 60 minutes exposure – even 5-10 minutes would have been cool…. Damn those cutting room floors.. what did not kill us, only made us stronger.. – 0 well.. /k

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/billions-in-aid-wasted-in-afghanistan-3272694/

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