A soldier's story
August 27th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Hurry up and wait

As part of an ongoing series “A Soldiers Story,” CNN's Jason Carroll follows Sgt. Randy Shorter and his unit as they head into Afghanistan.

"Hurry up and wait." It's an expression you hear a lot in the Army. Now I know why. We had hoped to arrive in Sharam, Afghanistan, a few days ago, but we are still waiting. Currently, we're bunking at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Our journey with mortar platoon Sgt. Randy Shorter and the rest of the unit began at Fort Campbell, Kentucky last Saturday. We ended up staying in Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan longer than expected. The military transport flights in Sharana were either delayed, full, or any number of other reasons. Finally, half of my crew (thanks to the help of all involved- especially Sgt. Shorter) got seats on a flight to Bagram. The base in Sharana would have to wait. Meanwhile, I stayed with Sgt. Shorter back at Manas and waited ...

Thursday night a C1-17 was available to handle the 150 plus soldiers who were waiting to go Sharana, Sgt. Shorter among them. Now we're here at Bagram – another pit stop – waiting for the flight to Sharana. In the meantime, they've given my photographer, Dominic Swann, and myself bunks in something they call the "clam shell." Think of a very large tent that opens at both ends. The soldiers at Bagram call them clams because the openings look like, well, a clam shell. It's packed inside but soldiers are used to it. They laughed at the mattresses which create clouds of dust whenever you sat on them. Bagram is a very dry place.

They can squeeze hundreds of soldiers in these bunks at a moment's notice. And they do it every night as the transport flights keep coming.

Much of all this hurry up and waiting has to do with the surge. Since so many troops are now coming to Afghanistan, they may have to wait in places like Bagram or Manas a little longer than they would have pre-surge. The transportation system is trying to meet the demand. Until it does, expect more "hurry up and wait."

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