Today is the birthday of the prophet Mohammad (pbuh) on the solar calendar, and the Persian world is praying and reflecting on his life and teachings. Interestingly, it’s also the anniversary of his death, and Shia (Shi’ite) Muslims particularly celebrate the symbolism of the circle of his life. In Islamic teaching, the prophet offered humanity a perfect example in all facets of life, much as Jesus has for Christianity. His God, or Allah, is the same God Christianity and Judaism observes; and in Islam, Jesus is revered as a prophet, but not as the messiah. Muhammad lived among his people and taught them about the belief in one God, ethics in everyday life and the importance of education in leading an exemplary life. In this regard, some of his famous sayings are “Seek knowledge even unto China”, “acquire knowledge, for he who acquires it performs an act of piety; he who speaks of knowledge, praises God: he who seeks it, adores God.” He also declared: “The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr.” [information gathered from the Ismaili website – http://www.amaana.org/ismaili.html]. We can only hope that reflection on his teachings can help stem the incredible violence ravaging Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine today.

We’ve had another nice weekend at Camp Alamo. A professional Air Force band “Maxx Impact” played here Thursday night, and put on a great show. We had food provided by the coalition, including the Italians from a Camp down the road, and everyone had a great time. It would have been nice to have had real beer, and our sweethearts with us, but hopefully we’ll enjoy that soon. It’s amazing to see a band play, and be able to have a shared experience with them, such as being deployed together to a war zone. My wife and I saw “Hootie and the Blowfish” near the peak of their career in Bahrain, and then partied with them afterwards. In a war zone, the band doesn’t hop on their tour bus and escape at midnight, because there’s nowhere to go. As they wait for the armed convoy to leave the next day, they hang out as fellow normal people, and it’s pretty cool. The band also played at the local village, and for the Afghan Soldiers at the adjacent Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), see attached press release.

Although my time is getting shorter, I’ve still got a ton of things to do. I’m responsible for all the paperwork for over 100 people (Army and Navy) to demobilize and head home. Additionally, I’m pushing for another 40% increase in the staff of KMTC before I leave. I sent several requests to the Afghan Minister of Defense Thursday, and will be spending much of April developing a comprehensive plan for new manpower requirements as our training mission has changed. I’m also spending time working out so I’ll have something tangible to show for this year as an accidental warrior. All this is designed to keep time moving, but it already seems to be slowing down. I fear the last two months of this fifteen month deployment may be the longest.

I hated to see Vandy robbed of a win last week to Georgetown in NCAA’s “Sweet 16”, but at least Georgetown was good enough to progress to the “Final Four”. Of course, I’ll be cheering for Florida tonight against UCLA. GO GATORS!

If you’ve missed updates you’d like to read, surf to www.jonsingleton.com to read past updates, see the pictures and to post comments. Feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested. If an email of your’s is kicked back by my SPAM filter, just resend with the word “ADD” in the subject line, and I’ll receive it. Raise a cup of Starbuck’s for me, and I’ll hurry home