A mayor’s headaches, with life-and-death implications
6:42 AM, Mar 29, 2011 | by Tony Leys |
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – Lt. Col. John Perkins says running this military base is a lot like running any other city of 30,000 people.
Bagram has traffic problems, zoning disputes, crowded buildings, air pollution and trash-disposal complications.
Perkins, an Iowa National Guard logistics expert from Johnston, is “mayor” of the base. Unlike most mayors, he doesn’t have to worry about re-election. But he has an extra concern: “I have people outside that want people on this base dead.”
The base covers eight square miles and provides supplies and administration to U.S. and allied military services throughout northern and eastern Afghanistan.
About 30,000 military service members and civilian contractors live on the base, and about 5,000 local Afghans walk in through heavily guarded gates every day for work. Private contractors and local workers perform most support tasks, but Perkins and other members of the Iowa National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion oversee them...