This is Malaria, he is a working cat. He hangs around my area, the S6/Communications section, on the FOB I am on in Afghanistan. He has had a hard life. When I first met him a couple of weeks ago he was limping from a wound on his paw, caused by the concentina wire that we deploy to protect our facilities (apparently he was found in it and some of the medics took care of him for a couple of days). He was also found completely covered in oil (which I hope was an accident and not some malicious action).
As a Soldier in a combat zone I fall under General Orders. The most un-American one of them is a subsection of General Order Number 1, part B which prevents us from housing, feeding or providing water to animals. Since I am still under that order I will state that elsewhere in theater this part of the order is probably broken in theater on a regular basis (see this article). It is very much against our nature, in particular our American nature, to not look and see animals that can vastly benefit from our assistance and then not do something (even something as basic as putting out a bowl of clean water, particularly when the temperatures can often exceed 100 degrees). Does it backfire sometimes, like for Soldiers who get bitten by Rabies infected animals? Yes. But when so many Soldiers (and airmen, Marines and sailors) can take such comfort in just seeing something, anything, get better because of their actions and get affection? It just seems cruel to deny them this simple pleasure.
In particular when you talk about cats (I have 2 so my bias is clear). They have a low chance of catching rabies and are pretty serious predators. Which means they munch down on insects and rodents which in turn can attract snakes, which can be poisonous in this area (and, Malaria has been observed twice chowing down on a Camel Spider, a creature I have no desire to ever encounter).
Malaria is wasted in Afghanistan. He is such a sweet cat, always looking to greet people when they come onto his porch. He will come up to you, give you a verbal greeting and rub around you in order to get the all valuable scratch or pat on the head. If you sit down he will quickly decide that your lap looks lonely and will settle down for a nap. Since it if you read the specifications of GO#1B, there really is no rule against petting him, so I will often give him a scritch and remind him that he is wasted on this awful country.
One of the Soldiers from our supporting unit is trying to raise the funds to bring Malaria backs to her house back in the States (trying to bring Malaria home... funny if you don't know it is cat). Apparently there is a group that will make it happen for $4000. But that is a crazy amount of money to spend on a cat, even such a useful cat that has done service for our Country.
I would very much like to indulge Malaria while I am here. Some clean water, a few tasty noms and some good attention. Better to have given him some good times to remember rather than never having had any real good times. But as a good Soldier I would never violate the rules (or post a blog that could be traced back to me)....