Updated: January 29, 2014 at 8:36 am
In Afghanistan, Fort Carson soldiers are gearing up for a bleary-eyed Super Bowl Monday.
The game will hit the airwaves at 3:30 a.m. and leaders with Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division are preparing a party, complete with pizza and non-alcoholic beer.
"We're definitely going to eat," said Maj. Tony Noce, who is arranging Super Bowl events across southern Afghanistan for the division.
Noce spoke by telephone from the division's headquarters at Kandahar Airfield, southwest of Kabul.
The division's headquarters soldiers left Fort Carson for war in July and have spent the ensuring months trimming America's presence in Kandahar, while preparing Afghan forces to go it alone in 2015. To break up the monotony of war and combat homesickness, the division throws periodic bashes on base for troops in Kandhar and the Super Bowl party is likely the biggest.
"For that instant, you're transported from where you're at, to something that's a taste of home," Noce said.
The division has about 300 soldiers in Afghanistan including its commander, Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera. More than 3,000 additional Fort Carson soldiers will be heading to Afghanistan in the coming weeks with the division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Planning a party overseas entails more than picking out chips and dips. Commanders have plans in place to rotate troops through the Super Bowl events so airtight security is maintained on bases. And because of the early hour of the game, flexible schedules are planned for sleepy soldiers.
Meal planning is more challenging, too.
The division is cooking up 1,200 pizzas donated by a charity and shipped to Afghanistan by DHL along with hot wings, fried chicken and other game time grub.
The raw ingredients must be shipped out to forward operating bases across the region where combat troops are planning their own game watching. On the massive Kandahar Airfield, home to several NATO units, four separate Super Bowl party sites are planned with hot food being delivered.
"We try to reach as many people as we can," Noce said.
The beverages are not exactly the same as Super Bowl parties in the states. By orders of U.S. Central Command, alcohol is banned for American troops in Afghanistan.
Soldiers will make do with booze-free versions of their favorite brews
"We have a wide selection of near bear," Noce assured.
With close ties to Colorado, many troops in the division are pulling for Denver to win the Lombardi Trophy.
But soldiers come from everywhere, including Seattle.
"There's a good number of Seahawks fans," Noce said.
But, in a land of mortar attacks and roadside bombs the play on the field means less than the game itself.
The Super Bowl is a blessed break from the war that brings thoughts of home, family and fun.
"Just for an hour we get to think about something other than the grind," Noce said.