Radio Afghanistan

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Army photo / Sgt Russell Gilchrest

An Afghan school teacher hands out U.S.-provided hand-cranked radios to his students in the village of Heydar Kheyl in Wardak province from the back of a Mibne-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle.

The U.S. military is still trying to get Afghans to listen to its weather reports, warnings of suspected IED locations, and propaganda – that’s why it’s buying another 21,000 hand-cranked radios to give away to Afghan locals.

The deal is worth $123,480, or $5.88 per radio, according to the contract award announcement late last week.

Hundreds of thousands of such radios have been distributed across much of Afghanistan, where means of electronic communication can be scant or non-existent.

“For a while the Americans dropped the WR-004 `World Receiver’ AM, FM and short wave radio produced by the STL Group in the Netherlands under the brand name `Super Tech.’” a summary of U.S. psyops in Afghanistan says. “They were dropped with the batteries already in the radio. The inability of the Afghans to replace the batteries was a liability.”


The Kaito KA505 hand-cranked radio

Hence, the purchase of the Kaito KA505 radios, whose rechargeable batteries can be powered up by turning the built-in hand crank. Instead of being air-dropped, as was done early in the campaign, radios are now distributed on the ground by U.S. and Afghan forces. Here’s a good account of how the Marines have done it.

While Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan specified how much money they’re spending, they wouldn’t specify who’s getting it.

The point of contact at Bagram air base in Afghanistan for the contract, by the way, appears a little unusual for a special-ops outfit:

Those special operators can be crazy guys…just hoping their G-mail account is more secure than Battleland’s.