Friday, October 5, 2012

Month 2 Day 5

Yesterday I Woke up at 0400 worked out and came back.

Settled an issue about a detainee transfer between the ANA [Afghan National Army] and USMC [United States Marine Corps], the ANA wanted two Talibs because they thought the Kandak in Garmsir was corrupt, I explained that they were in Marine Custody.

I got the first actionable piece of information from my S2A.  He gave me the general location of a Talib expected to kill some GirOA [Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan] people and the phone number of the guy.  I sourced this to RadBn [Radio Battalion].

I found out that I should become a Cat 3 terp [interperter], they make 300k per year

I met up with Cpt Samir and tried to talk to him about analysis, his idea of analysis was putting all of the reports that I gave him into a binder, no go

Cpt Samir desperately wants to leave this post which makes me wonder if all my efforts will be in vane

We had the mattresses switched out on our racks, why, because the old ones weren’t comfy enough.  What the heck is wrong with cots, old man syndrome I guess.

Edited to Add:
There was a lot of unknown foreshadowing in this post.  

Corruption accusations, some well founded, some opportunistic, and some both, would become regular occurrences. This topic is well explored later on, and does not need to be covered in detail now. 

The categories of interpreter bear further explanation. 
Category 1 local hires, no clearance.  
Category 2 American Citizens with Secret clearances.  
Category 3 American Citizens with Top Secret Clearances. 

We had no linguists with security clearances.  All of our linguists were either American citizens without clearances or local hires.  Still the American citizens were paid much more than the local hires.  This caused strife amongst the linguists because they were often asked to do the same work, but were paid wildly different amounts.  Often because of linguist shortages we had to use our linguists in ways that certainly violated the spirit of the law if not the letter of the law when it came to classified material. 

Regarding creature comforts, this bears further explanation was well.  At first, we were packed in like sardines into three tents (at nearly eight to a tent). That was pretty tight, but the tents did have air conditioning, were impenetrable to light, and generally comfortable.  I would later find out that these conditions were austere.  Most of our company positions with just a hundred or so individuals had plywood buildings with air conditioning, internet, and unlimited satellite telephone use.  Some of the platoon positions had less than this (though some did have unlimited internet and phone), but the platoons typically did not stay in the same place fore more than a couple of months.  We went longer than most of those Marines did without creature comforts. We were Marines, at the edge of the battlefield, and this is what we had.  To be fair there were Marines in brand new positions (two months old or less) that didn't have this, but basically every new position had an engineering plan in mind before it even went up for how it was going to turn into a boxed in brown fortress with these amenities in it.  We would see bases where concrete and steel were the norm.  

Please know, American public, that your servicemen are not living a hard life.  I had three meals a day, hot, decent food, and a fine place to sleep.  The only thing I was deprived of was my wife's company, but I was able to speak to an E-mail her regularly. I understand your desire to support the troops, but as someone who was in it I can tell you that I was doing just fine.  Most of the time I thought, 'what a waste' when I saw how, for instance, expensive flat-panel TVs were mis-allocated.

Afghan Camp 'Camp Garmsir' our compound on the right
Our Compound, sleeping tents on the right and working tents on the left
My rack

Afghan Sunset

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