Something ugly is going on in Afghanistan. I don't know who the perpetrator is, but that's up to your Congressman to find out. Here's what I can tell you; at FOB Gardez and Camp Phoenix (and I'm checking to see if this has happened elsewhere as well) there used to be MWR internet facilities, complete with computers for the Soldiers to use. "Permanent" residents of the FOB could buy monthly internet access for a fee from a private provider, usually a bunch of Indians with a satellite dish. The fee varied, and while it was high, it just got higher.
It just got insane.
Now our Soldiers and Marines can buy internet by the hour, costing as much as $200 per month for pathetic speed. That is patently ridiculous! As I wrote when I was in country, my priorities for being a happy camper included internet in the top three. Most Soldiers don't send snail mail because you haven't seen a snail in your life as slow as mail to and from Afghanistan. We are the digital generation and we stay connected via electrons.
Will I pay $200/month to stay connected? Yes, I will. Will the private who makes a lot less pay it? Yes, he probably will.
This is a particular problem at Camp Phoenix, which each and every ETT/PMT has to process through on their way in and out of the country. Phoenix used to have an entire building full of phones and one that had internet computers and laptop drops in it. Now that building is full of phones. These "transients" who are trying to stay in touch with their families while they are coming into a new country, or whose families are trying to track their progress towards home, are now officially screwed.
What the hell, people?
First, the guy who made that decision was undoubtedly a Lieutenant Colonel or higher. Why he made that call is beyond me, but I can guarantee that he had no realistic idea, nor apparently did he care, how that type of expense impacted a young man with a family back home which he tried to stay in touch with via email and video chat. LTC's have jobs that provide internet-enabled computers, anyway, so what does he care? Doesn't affect him.
I cannot explain to you how much higher morale is when you can log on and get your email. I cannot explain to you how much more sustainable life is when you can log on the internet and see your child on the screen. Everyone wants to talk about the stress of deployment, but here is a morale killer and someone needs to look into it.
Someone is making a shitload of money from our deployed Soldiers, and those whose responsibility it is to safeguard those Soldiers and Marines are not only leaving them to the predations of crappy, overpriced service, but they actually had to change the existing system to do it! Now that the MWR rooms are gone, if those young men and women don't have a laptop, their access to this morale-saving technology is gone; or they can spend money that they weren't otherwise obligated to spend in order to buy a laptop and pay out the boowah for horrid service.
You want to take care of Soldiers? Provide free internet.
No, this the way that we take care of our deployed troops. We rape them for every dime we can so that they don't lose their freaking minds in a foreign country. Someone is making a lot of money on this, and it's on Joe's back.
Please get your Congressman interested in this. It's things like this that don't get solved when people are living by the "what happens in Afghanistan, stays in Afghanistan" moral code unless a Congressman starts asking what the hell they are thinking of.