Afghanistan-A-Go-Go

A Reservist's Tale Of A Tour

Thirty Days

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Today is my thirtieth day in theatre. It’s a small milestone, a month here, but it’s still a great one – it feels as though I’ve been here longer in some ways, now that I’ve got routines established, social networks in place, and a pretty good idea of what it is I’m doing here. A lot of people who were here when we arrived have just ripped out, and we’ve got some new arrivals to get introduced to. What always amazes me with military people is that you become fast friends, and people I’ve known for only that month leave with just as much significance as people you’ve known longer.

In fact, one of the guys who left this morning to make his way back to his unit in Kuwait, and eventually back home to Minnesota, is planning an epic round the world type trip that includes plans to try to meet up with several of us that have just arrived when we go on our leaves. He’s collected all the dates to try to arrange an appropriate itinerary, and through the wonders of Facebook and so on it should actually have some degree of possibility.

I have been amusing myself in my spare time with planning out my leave in more detail, so that when the time comes that I can actually start having things booked I’ll have a solid idea of where to go, what to do, when to do it, and so on. If I don’t use up all my HLTA money on flights and railpasses, I think I’m going to rent myself a nice touring bike for a couple of days while I wait for my wife to arrive in Germany to meet me. Rentals are much cheaper in Germany than in Canada, and so I can get my mitts on a nice BMW tourer, or a Harley-Davidson, or something that will do the trick. I thought about trying to rent my proposed new bike, but nowhere in Frankfurt-am-Main seems to rent them.

I can’t wait to explore some new cities and some history with my wife – we’ve not had the chance to do all that much traveling together in the last few years, and so it’ll be a great experience to do it. The trick for her is to make sure she has the time off work, which has been something of an issue so far, but we’ll see how it works out. There are numerous ways to deal with such problems.

My month ahead looks somewhat interesting. I’m headed out to one of the regions as part of a Mobile Training Team, and we have a course starting here as well that I’ll be involved in. I’ve just been involved in the course we give to new arrivals, as we have some guys in replacing people getting ready to go home, and I’m starting to get the impression that there’s really a point to my being here. There were moments I wasn’t totally sure about that. I just basically tried in those moments to learn as much as I could about what’s going on around me and figure out how to make myself relevant. It’s easy to look at tasks here as impossibly large, but when you realize that incrementally there are loads of small things that make differences, it’s easier to handle. I guess that’s something that military service is good at getting you to understand – when you face a daunting problem, break it into smaller ones and attack each individually.

Things have seemed a little unsettled for the simple reason that the school I work at is in the middle of transitioning, we’re working at shifting responsibilities from us to the ANA – and so what the people we replaced did doesn’t match up directly with what we’re doing, and that’s fine. It’s just an adjustment to define what exactly we need to do going forward to meet our goals, because the school’s plan is to hand off increasing amounts of responsibility to the ANA over the next few months. They have some things to develop their capabilities on, and some things they do well, we just need to help them along.

So how’d I spend day thirty? Well, Friday is our “weekend”, we don’t start work until 1pm. I got up at 10:30 after a nice sleep in. Last night I was out to trivia with the Brits (and we didn’t win, sadly!) and was in the office fairly late doing travel research, so it was nice to not have to get up early. This afternoon we were up to the range to do some Quick Reaction Drill shooting – basically, you’re sitting at your desk and someone decides to turn green-on-blue on you – how to react. Of course, the odds of that are rare, but there was an incident at Kabul International Airport where an Afghan Air Force Colonel, who was apparently about to be busted for using ANSF aircraft to smuggle drugs, shot eight people dead before killing himself. The victims were all armed and failed to react effectively. One of them, apparently, had a pistol but instead had a cellphone in their hand.

It was good just to get out, enjoy the weather, and get some shooting in. It looked like rain for a while but it turned out okay in the end. The best part: at ranges at home, after shooting you have to pick up all the brass (spent casing). Not so in Afghanistan. Within seconds of our completing our shoot, a bunch of ANA soldiers descended from the hills beside the range and furiously collected all the brass in no time flat. It was something of a sight to see. I guess it’s because they can sell it for scrap. Whatever the case, it doesn’t bother anyone, and saves us doing it.

Written by Nick

March 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

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