KABUL — Even though Army Spc. Brandon Fogg has barely left the square mile inside his Afghanistan base for the past six months, he’s lived through some close calls in his effort to help fight the War on Terror.
The 21-year-old Hebron resident is a signal intelligence analyst, working in a control room in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he helps saves lives for those out in the battlefield and trains Afghans.
As for culture (and environmental) shock, the thing that surprised Fogg the most was the number of earthquakes the area receives. He keeps odd hours since his analyst job requires him to work during the night.
“I was sleeping during the day and all of a sudden I woke up and everything was falling down around me,” he recalled about a major earthquake that hit his base. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt during the event.
But Fogg’s headquarters is connected to the U.S. Embassy, which also makes the base a target.
“We have had some threats in the past few months but nothing has really come of those,” he said. “We did get a rocket a few months ago or so. It was just one single rocket. It didn’t hit us, it just hit outside the fence so I am thankful for that.”
But the most intense incident was when a helicopter crashed on base, killing four or five people and injuring others.
“It ran into a wire we had in the sky. It crashed right in between some barracks in a pretty popular section,” Fogg said, recalling he was working on the other side of the base. “I wasn’t really near it, fortunately, when it happened because that’s my barracks building.”
When he’s not busy brushing off close calls, Fogg reviews and analyzes signal intelligence, known as SIGINT, which is electronic communication systems, radars and weapon systems from foreign adversaries. This is part of the work through Resolute Support Mission, which began in January 2015 as part of the 42-country coalition to help Afghan forces’ counterterror efforts.
He works along side some of the closest allies of the U.S., including those from England and Australia, and some from Georgia, Macedonia and other “countries I’ve never heard of before.” But, they all have the same endgame in mind.
“If we have some people going into a city to do operations … we try to give them as much information as we can, what are the hot spots in town, what are the things we’re supposed to look out for – anything they need, we try to help them out as soon as we can,” Fogg said. He added this includes providing information to military leaders.
He acknowledged that U.S. and NATO forces have been in Afghanistan a while, trying to help the country’s forces, but it “seems to be going in the right way.”
“We’re trying to train the Afghan military and police to be able to take care of their own issues and push out the terrorists and eventually, hopefully soon, stand on their own two feet so they can do what they need to do,” Fogg said. “The Afghan people are beginning to take control in different cities and regions and pushing out the terrorists. That’s what we want.”
As for his job as a intelligence analyst, Fogg didn’t join the Army with this mission in mind. He said he had the option of three jobs, the others being as a medic or in biological warfare.
“Honestly, it sounded cooler than the other two,” he said. “You picture those people on TV and movies and stuff.”
But Fogg has done so well while over in Afghanistan, he’s expected to be promoted to sergeant sometime next month. He went before the five judges on the Promotion Board, who determine if the soldier is fit to climb to the next rank.
“It was pretty awesome, not too many people get to fly in a ‘copter to their Promotion Board,” he said. “They said I was good to go.”
As exciting as Afghanistan has been, there’s plenty of things Fogg misses about back home – especially his family and friends, the Oxford Plains Speedway, tapping for maple syrup and the food.
“The food is a lot better in the states,” he said. “Thankfully it’s a U.S.-run NATO base so we get U.S. food imported but we do have Afghan Night.”
While over in Afghanistan, Fogg jumped on the opportunity to re-enlist in the Army for another four years. He also can attend college and has his eye on becoming a game warden.
“’North Woods Law’ is one of my favorite shows. It is awesome,” he said.
But he won’t discount making a career out of the military, noting the benefits of staying in for two decades.
“I’ve enjoyed the Army so far, I might stay for the 20 [years],” Fogg said. “Everything can change.”
But during his recent trip back to the states where he stayed in Maine for a weekend and then drove his car down to Fort Mead in Maryland, he had one thing on his mind.
“I’ve got to go to Amato’s,” Fogg said, laughing.