Sunday, June 30, 2013

Month 10 Day 30

Notebook entry
Three reports given, Ministry of Defense form 14 stuff, eat fish versus teach fishing, Naikpai missing, commanding officer and I, meeting intelligence preparation of the battlespace

Journal entry
i met up with Bernie in the morning and gave him a CD with all of the information on it that he needed to order new gear.  He said that he wanted to fill it out himself, but when I came back in the afternoon, he hadn't filled anything out, but he was still asking for a new printer from me.  He hasn't figured it out yet.

I told him that my purpose here was not to give him a fish, but to teach him to fish, and I didn't care if he starved for a while. 

While Bernie was on the phone Naikpai was showing me some of the places he went in the AO.  He came in throught the Bari Desert up top, crossed the Bogra and spent some time at one of the bazaars, then spent some time in Sistani, and finally moved down to the district center where he worked on a tip line.  He said that he used to be the big chief linguist, and was happy when Dinar said he wanted to do the job because it meant he didn't have to work as much.  Lazy little umpa lumpa. 

Did the combined Ops and Intel, Maj Kraus was a pussy and didn't want to stick around to eat. 

In the afternoon (typically a half-day for the Afghans) Bernie said that he wanted to work on IPB.  That was fine by me, so I brought him in and taught him what I know.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Month 10 Day 29

Notebook entry
Five reports given, 1174 reports, lost Afghan national army ambulance, executive officer meeting, priority intelligence requirements, detainee, combined combat operations center, Taliban.

Journal entry
The Day started earlier than most.  The ANA medics came up and asked me to wake up Doc Kucera at 0500 because they lost their ambulance and ambulance driver.  I sent them away and told them to look for themselves for at least the next hour-and-a-half, and after that, then maybe they could talk to Doc Kucera.

I met up wih the XO in the morning.  I explained how I was not going to be giving the answers to the S2, how the questions he was asking the S2 (the number of TB in an area and the population) were not going to help him win the campaign. I was going to move on and talk about corruption on the camp, the next thing he wanted to talk to me about, but Maj Davidson came in.  A TB patient had been taken in by the ANA, but the GSU commander had decided that rather than use the container earmarked as an isolation facility for an isolation facility, that he would allow the 5th kandak commander to use it every couple of months or so when he came down. This was brought up to the General his suggestion to the Major ‘he should live in your tent.’  I stepped out and promised that I would visit the XO later in the day.

I worked with Maj Tawoos on PIRs.  He has a rudimentary understanding of the military decision-making process. That is nice.  He was engaged, and we made some headway. 

There was a little drama about trying to get the next guy to go to the Combined COC.  I don’t understand why they don’t want to go.  The Maintenance officer was all about checking out what women he could buy in other countries,

I tried to do visit the XO in the afternoon, but nap time has been extended I don’t know if it is prep for Ramadan or what, but nap time now goes from like 1200 to 1600 every day.  I interrupted the S2’s nap time at 1530 because I had something important to talk to him about.  Capt Petranzio tells me that they are still holding the shopkeeper who beat up the two Afghan Soldiers, the shopkeepers from the Durzay bazaar have all closed up their shops in protest. The ostensible reason the kandak is holding them is that they want the Brigade S2 officer to investigate.  I go talk to the Brigade S2 officer and he says that is not the case.  He has no desire to investigate the shopkeeper further.  If anything, he would like to investigate the soldiers when they come out of the lockup.  He says that he believes they were probably using their weapons and position to try to order the locals around and get energy drinks. The locals fought back because there were only two of them and they got their asses kicked.  I said yah, well two Hazara boys walking alone in a bazaar full of Pashtuns, well that’s a recipe for an ass-kicking.  He said ‘well you know about that, huh?’ I asked him to write a cipher or talk to the general about releasing the shopkeeper. I worked on him for a long time.  I tried to include as little as possible I tried to get him to write ‘I don’t want to investigate this shopkeeper.’ He said ‘you are making me take responsibility for this.  I asked him to go speak to the general with me and get him to sign a release order for this guy because they are not allowed to hold him over 120 hours.  He said ‘I have already told him twice, if you and I both go, I might as well bring a stick’ by which he meant, my presence would force the general to act, and he didn’t want to put the general in that position and thus break his relationship with him.  I went to speak to the General.  He was lounging on the floor of his room eating pistachios and talking to the OpsO.  I laid down next to him.  I asked him what was going on.  He said ‘I have given the order to turn him over to the local authorities because he is a Talib.’ Taken aback somewhat by the abrupt comment and his assurance without any evidence I said ‘OK, well when is that going to happen, the rules say you are only allowed to hold someone for 120 hours.’  ‘I don’t care he’s a Talib, but I will write up the order tonight and he will be moved tonight or tomorrow.’  ‘OK, great well I’ll let everyone down at the kandak know what is going on.’ I stood up and told the General how good the picture of him with president Karzai pinning on his General’s rank with Marshal Fahim looked.  His little ego liked that. 

I go back to the S2 and tell him what is going on. The the shopkeeper will be transferred to the NDS.  He kind of looks down.  I say, ‘what is wrong?’ he says ‘well that shopkeeper probably doesn’t have enough money to be transferred to NDS.’ I nod and agree, he means that the guy can’t pay the bribe to get out of lockup. ‘This is a wery wery big problem.’ He says in English.  I agree.  ‘there are guys out there playing both sides of the fence in NDS.’  He says ‘its not just NDS, it’s the ANCOP, the ANA, the ANP, everywhere.’ He says that he has heard that there are a bunch of ANP checkpoints charging local people money to use the roads, just like there were in the warlord time.  I nod.  I say ‘Well you are right there are a lot of people in it for themselves. The poor people only want to survive the next day, week, or harvest and the educated people like you care first about themselves then about their brothers, then about their cousins, then about their tribe, and then, way off down the road perhaps they care about Afghanistan.’  He says yes you are right.  I remind him that ‘I haven’t forgotten what tribe the General is from.’ He is a Hazara from Mazar-i-Sharif like one of the boys who was attacked.  It goes without saying that I have not forgotten what tribe my S2 is from, he is a Pashtun. 
‘How do we change it?  You know this better than I do, tell me how to fix it and I will’
‘This is a wery wery big problem’ ‘You are lucky’ he says
‘how’s that?’
‘You get to go back to your country in two months, I have to go on living here, I have to think about my future.’  
He wasn’t wishing to be an American he was merely stating the fact that he had to live in the system and didn’t have the luxury to look at it from the outside like I did, and he needed to survive.
‘I am thinking about your future to, what kind of country are you going to have in a few years?’
Again I repeated my plea ‘I have never failed at anything in my life.  I have spent a year here and I don’t think that after we leave in two years the south is going to hold on for more than two years and the North won’t hold out for more than ten. What do I need to do to fix it.’
‘You did the best that you could, you aren’t President Obama.’
‘I’m not sure that even he has the power to fix this.  The problem is in people’s hearts.’
He nodded ‘Zendagee’ long life to you
‘A long life to your country.’

After that we decided to work on the weather.  As I walked out.  The General was directing some poor private on how to use the 2000 gallon tanker to water his little patch of green,  leaning back belly protruding while the other man scrambled around on his hands and knees.

I came back and I talked to Bashir about it.  He said ‘Americans know that they can’t leave now, they learned that lesson after the Soviets were defeated by the Mujahedeen. I know because when I was in Chicago I met a guy who was studying for his bachelor’s in political science and he was writing a paper about it.’

‘brother, most of America doesn’t know anything about Afghanistan. They only know that it costs a lot of money and they don’t understand why all of the people don’t rise up and accept freedom and democracy like they do.  They believe that inside of every Afghan there is a little American just waiting to bust out.  Just like we believe that every Afghan officer is like us.’

‘You know that the next generation will change this place. There has been thirty years of war here.  All of these people are just stockpiling all of their things so that in case it all collapses they will have something to live off of, or something to take with them out of the country. There are now universities here,under the Taliban there was only one university in the entire country, now there are more than 20.  I pay for all of my brothers to go to university each month.  I pay $200 for each of them to go to school each month. These officers, they are old, they all trained under the soviets, the next generation, they will take over, these guys will die off and then the country will be stable.’

‘Ten years of concerted effort in Kabul and about three years of concerted effort here in the south, I don’t know if it’s enough.’

‘America will keep spending, they have to keep spending, the country can’t afford this Army’

I thought about the Galicians, how for 400 years the Castillians had control of that little territory, and now, 30 years after the nation was recognized, they are all speaking Galician again, playing folk music etc.  They just didn’t want to change. 

I went to chow. Came back and checked out the new shower buildings where the tile had been laid on top of bear dirt, but it was tested using the jump around on it method by the contractor.  It was awesome.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Month 10 Day 28

Notebook entry
Eight reports given, ground poppy eradication strongest tribe, musical chairs, literacy Narallah addition class VI, lunch KGB, duty, priority intelligence requirements with major Kraus, fire, didn't want weather.

Journal entry
I continued to listen to 'Decent into chaos.'  They talked about how ground poppy eradication was done by the strongest tribe.  I wonder to myself, seeing all of the conspicuously undestroyed poppy fields alongside of destroyed ones, if we are just creating another strong tribe...The musical chairs syndrome that we see in the Afghan officer corps (no one gets fired, everyone just gets transferred) starts at the Top, Mullah Omar wanted Karzai to work as the ambassador to the UN under the TB.  Marshall Fahim, didn't get fired when he tried to turn the army into a Panshiri-dominated organization, they all just play musical chairs. 

I went to a literacy class in the morning.  Nasrallah and the new Chai boy Amir were both in there learning.  The teacher was explaining the concept of multiplication through showing them iterations of addition.  There were only six guys in the class, and half of them came late. 

Tawoos was on duty and I couldn't find him in the morning. 

At lunch I talked to the linguists.  Apparently Dinar told them that if they signed up for the internet through sniper hill that I was going to have to search their computers every night, and that all of their traffic was going to be monitored. This is total bullshit.  I explained to them how Intel cannot work on American persons, but I don't think they believed me.  I am not the KGB.  If I work with these guys this long and they still think I'm the KGB, will I ever be able to break the thought process in my Afghans?

Maj Kraus came over and just as he got here we had two of the Afghan tents catch fire.  We all scrambled over there and I started spraying it with the greywater truck and getting the afghans to not look at the tents that were burning but at the adjacent tent to make sure they didn't burn down.  We managed to isolate it, and it was pretty well in hand by the time the mainside fire department showed up and started dowsing it.  It was started by faulty wiring.  Throughout the whole thing, the brand new ANA firetruck that we gave them last week did not move from its origincal position.  The Unity contractors were more responsive than the ANA fire station.

Maj Kraus worked with Bernie on PIRs.  He came back and said that Bernie was already trying to play the rank game.  He thinks that I won't give him things because I can't.  To some extent that is true.  I can't give him a container, humint source money, or anything like that, but for the most part he still hasn't figured out that I will not give him stuff because he has to learn how to do it himself.

I was told in the meeting that I didn't give Bernie any information.  This is laughable, I give him reports every day, but I don't give him the answer.  His job is to think.  Me taking that away is like putting all of the Afghan supplies on USMC equipment for the logistics officer. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Month 10 Day 27

Notebook entry
10 reports given, create it but can't control it, Pakistan and the Taliban, Bernie missing in action then to combined combat operations center, Zuriat, teleconference, intelligence preparation of the battle space class, weather, mud and tile.

Journal entry
Listening to “Descent into Chaos” by Ahmad Rasheed it struck me that you can create things, but it is hard to control them.  Like the Taliban and the ISI.  When they moved back into Pakistan and the Army couldn’t put them down and they were putting radical pressure on them, and even attacking Musharrif.  Well I wonder if it won’t be the same with the ANA.  They say we didn’t put enough thought into building this place, but have we honestly put enough thought into how this military is going to act after we leave?  Just like the Pakistanis, we can create it, but can we control it?

Bernie was MIA most of the morning, but he made it over to the CCOC without my help.  I called Maj Kraus and let him know that Bernie was there and they linked up.  In the Afternoon we linked up and tried to do the teleconference.  Only one kandak showed up despite us sending out the warno to the Marines and Bernie sending out a cipher to the ANA.  I really wanted this to be a success. 

After the teleconference. I tried to talk to Bernie about a general orientation to the AO.  That went well.  He was receptive, especially to the nuts that I left on the table for him.  It is nice to have a smart guy around, I ask him about the Baluch people and he knows who they are, a little about their background, etc. 

He taught me something too.  I learned what those burial mounds with the flags on them are called ‘Zuriat.’  They are what the locals do when a person who is very righteous dies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Month 10 Day 26

Notebook entry
Five reports given, intelligence cycle, link analysis, Corps priority intelligence requirements, afternoon acetate, weather, torn brake line in truck, one Afghan national Army soldier killed in action rollover, container, broke into ablution, refuse combined combat operations center.

Journal entry
I met up with bernie in the morning.  

I was really pissed off at him initially because I had really hoped that he would do some work the night prior.  He told me that he wanted to know the population of all of his districts and that he was and who the key commanders were in each of the districts.  I told him that if he did the work, that I would tell him if his information matched what I had.  I did the research, found the information, etc.  He called up the Lecay teams and asked for the information.  The Legacy teams are Human intelligence collectors, they are supposed to put out spies and find out about enemy activity, not population statistics.  This is distinctly different than what he told me he was going to do (i.e. ask someone on the district council). I got pissed off with him and told him I am not going to give him and information unless he does the work.  I think that he is starting to understand our relationship.  I sat down with him and we talked about link analysis and other things for about an hour. 

After that I came back and worked on some reports.  I went to the RCT picked up some clamps and talk to the S2 guys over there.  I got certified on yet another of the million intel programs that I am expected to know.  

I came back and helped bernie put acetate over his map.  He didn't know how to use binder clamps and he made the comment that 'we are all like Jalaluddin, to them' Jalaluddin is a character in a popular tv show who came down from the mountains to Kabul and have to figure out how to live in the big city.  That is what he feels like all the time.  I think he's probably right, but that is mostly our fault too. After I helped him.  We stepped outside.  I wanted to talk to him about the General.  The general is a Mujaheddin fighter, really has no military experience and that makes him a poor brigade commander.  He doesn't know what he is supposed to do.   Anyway, while we were out there, and while I was feeling pretty proud of Bernie for how hard he worked on learning to do the weather, putting up the acetate, etc. he tells me.  "it is really important that I get a container" I have lots of secret things to talk about and I need a container to do that.  I told him they cost $230,000 and that if he wants one he should talk to his XO.  No, he doesn't think that will work, he wants the Americans to bring him one...sigh.   

One of the ANA from 4th kandak was killed in a vehicle rollover.  The General couldn't understand how he was braindead and yet still breathing.  He was expecting the American doctors to work some type of magic to bring him back. 

The Afghans broke into the new ablution facility where they are supposed to wash for pray one of them decided to take a shit in the middle of it.  Awesome.  Col Mustafa's response.  "you'll find a way to secure it for me."

On a final happy note.  One of the decent officers we have the Tachnique, is getting burnt out as he is the only officer in the S-4 at this time.  He says he is never coming back to the Combined COC where he was a permanent watch-stander.  The LtCol is ready to cut off their fuel and water over this...He also says if they don't figure it out, that we just won't talk to them for 24 hours.  this is childish, but on the bright off. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Month 10 Day 25

Notebook entry
Five reports given, meeting, formation in the morning, meeting late morning, Salim gone, Bernie's video teleconference, military decision-making process, weather, communications major maintenance shop up and running.

Journal entry
Yesterday morning the ANA had a slew of meeting/formations/etc.  in the early afternoon at 1400 they had a VTC. Salim left yesterday because the made-up doctor here (he’s really trained as a hospital administrator, not as a doctor, but he thinks he knows what he’s doing) told him that the pain in his stomach was from kidney problems and that he would have to go to a higher echelon of care. 

I fought the battle of the inbox most of the morning.  The Major had me write yet another report on HUMINT source funding in the ANA.  I’ve already written four versions of it. The Corps Mentor team refuses to believe that the money is being stolen.  They still believe that their Afghans are honorable men serving the country and that there may be guys around who steal, but they are the exception.  Everything that I have observed points to systemic corruption within the ANA.  They are trying to say that we are the only brigade that is having trouble with this, but when I speak to the other brigade mentors, they aren’t even involved.  They have no idea what the forms are, how the system works.  The Brits are willfully ignorant.  They simply don’t want to know the answers to these questions because they don’t want to get distracted.  I can understand that.  Anyway, it is kind of frustrating because I have provided the same evidence again and again, and they don’t want to believe it, or if they do believe it, they are only going to look into this brigade.  Oh well.

I spoke to Maj Tawoos in the afternoon and he told me that he needed two things from me.  The number of insurgent cells in each of the districts and the population of each district.   I asked him what he needed this information for, and he said a planning meeting the next day.  I explained to him the planning process, all four steps of the MDMP, and he acted like he knew it once I was finished explaining it.  I further explained that the information he requested was not going to help them in the planning process at all, if that is in fact what they are doing.  He wants me to give him the answer and doesn’t yet understand that my role is not to give him the answer, but to show him how to find the answer by himself.  I am not here to breed dependency.  He seems to think that my job is to work on the thinks that he can’t or won’t do, when my real job is to show him how to do the things that he can’t or won’t do.  I found a good halfway house, I think.  I told him that I would find the population numbers that he was looking for, and then he could bounce his results off of me and I could tell him if it lined up with reality.  I also told him that I would not find the number of insurgent groups in the AOs because that A) doesn’t make sense (the threshold for being an insurgent/collaborator/etc is really the key here since most people cooperate with the TB to some degree at some time) and B) is never going to help them in the planning process. He said he knew how to do link analysis and how to get the info and he would bounce his info off of mine.  We’ll see.  He also protested saying that his job was not to learn, but to operate now.  Sigh.

After his VTC we came back and I taught him how to do the weather.  He is basically computer illiterate, so we had to walk him through every step. Copying, pasting, typing, everything.  He was very happy to learn that.  Well, that’s progress, I guess.

Comm has their maintenance shop up and running the mentors basically built the entire thing (the insisted that the Afghans build two measly wooden benches), but the Afghan CommO is too lazy to build a list of what needs to be fixed.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Month 10 Day 24

Notebook entry
10 reports given, Skype, Sammy, what for, interviews, sleep.

Journal entry
I slept in until about 0730.  Did the regular 3S routine, cut my hair and came back.

I got on the phone and on Skype with Suzan because the connection wasn't fast enough to do both at the same time.  I missed her even more for having seen her.

After that I went to interview two guys who came in from Durzay who were beat up and shot by the TB. This is what I came up with.

Interview #1
Time 1140 Local
Interviewee: Ali Riza, Sgt 2nd Kandak
Place of Birth: Mazar-i-Sherif
Height: 65in, weight 150lbs
Marital status: married
Place: Clinic, Camp Garmsir

After initial questions about his biography to determine a baseline the interviewee was asked to describe the circumstances that led to him being in his hospital bed.  This was an open-ended question with no prompting.
‘Two of us left our post looking for food.  First we went to a shop with energy drinks.  I purchased some with the Pakistani Money that I had.  I wanted to call home and next door there was a shop that allowed me to make the call, so I went in there.  There were three men in the shop.  The shopkeeper said that two of them were his relatives.  They asked him if me if I would like to stay for dinner, and I said no. At that time the two relatives left the building. I asked the shopkeeper for change to make a telephone call.  While I was on the phone my soldier came in and told me that the two guys who went outside were smoking hashish drinking Fanta.  As he was speaking the men returned to the shop on a motorcycle and began to shoot, they shot me in the arm and then in the butt, then they ran out of ammunition.  I tried to return fire, but they pulled on my weapon and because I only had one good arm, they pulled it free.  They tried to shoot me with it, but they didn’t know how to use it, so they started to beat me with it.  The shopkeeper also started to beat me. While they were beating my weapon broke from the force.  I tried to grab the shopkeeper’s legs to keep him from beating me, but I was not able to stop him.  I made my way out of the shop and tried to run back to the post, but I could not.  I saw a shepherd boy and yelled to him to tell the soldiers and Marines that we were being attacked.  The next thing I remember is the Marine Doctor telling me to stay awake, giving me medicine.  After that the next thing I remember is being in the Marine hospital. Now I don’t know what is going to happen to me they might put me in jail.  I tried to hold onto my weapon, but I just couldn’t.  The S2 says I am Taliban.’

Through subsequent questioning the Sergeant revealed the following.
There are five soldiers at the post.  The post is approx 300m from the Bazaar.  The Marines only have the ANA stand post in the evening, so he was free to go during the day.  Most of the patrols they do with the Marines, but since this was just a resupply they only had two soldiers.  His fellow soldiers knew that he left and gave him money to buy them things in the bazaar. As soon as he left the shop he believes his attackers got on their motorcycle and fled because they saw the shepherd boy running to get help.  He has spent four months in Durzay.  He feels bad because his soldier was hurt worse than him. He believes the shopkeeper is going to accuse him of trying to steal Fanta or pressure him into getting him some, but that doesn’t make sense because he already had Fanta.

Before beginning his narrative of events he tried to sit up to speak more emphatically. This was a break from the previous baseline, but it could be attributed to him having been questioned before by the S2 and his desire to emphasize his innocence.

Interview #2
Time 1300 Local 
Interviewee: Salim, Soldier, 2nd Kandak
Place of Birth: Bamyan
Height: 65in, weight 150lbs
Marital status: Married
Place: Combat Surgical Hospital, Camp Dwyer

After initial questions about his biography to determine a baseline the interviewee was asked to describe the circumstances that led to him being in his hospital bed.  This was an open-ended question with no prompting.
‘We left to go to Headquarters, but stopped in a bazaar at a shop with a bunch of energy drinks and bought some.  I saw the shopkeeper leave the shop and he went to meet up with two guys who were sitting some distance away.  When I approached them they moved behind the bazaar.  I came back to tell my Sergeant and when I came back they came up behind me with a motorcycle and started to shoot.  After they shot me they beat me and my sergeant with our weapons. I don’t know how my Sergeant got out of the shop.’

Through subsequent questioning the solder revealed the following:
He had not spoken to his sergeant since the event.  He claimed that they were going to Headquarters to get supplies. 

The soldier’s tone became more emphatic as he continued with his story, but none of the questions broke his natural rythmn.

The first sergeant claimed that he entered two shops, while the Soldier only claimed that they went to one shop.
The Soldier said he could did not see the sergeant leave the shop, and had not seen him leave, but the soldier did know that he left the shop.

It is the interviewer’s assessment that these soldiers left to buy food in the bazaar.  Leaving with this number of soldiers is probably a common occurrence, and not seen as irregular based on them both offering the same information with no prompting. They may or may not have tried to pressure the shopkeeper to give them energy drinks at a reduced price.  They were both attacked in the manner they described.  They were overpowered by their assailants and had their weapons taken.  It is unlikely that they sold their weapons to the Taliban.  The reason for the attack could be many.  Their small size, their ethnic/linguist/religious background (Hazara/Dari/Shia as opposed to Pashtun/Pashto/Sunni).  Their assailants could have had ties to the Taliban, but this is not necessarily the case. 
The irregularities in their stories are slight, and can be attributed to translation errors, medication, and forgetfulness. 

I spoke with Sammy about it after I was done.  I just couldn't understand why people here hate each other so much. There has to be a damn good reason to kill someone else, and I just don't see it around here.  I understand the history of these tribes and clans, but so much of what they did to each other happened 10 years ago.  Let it go.  He started saying that he doesn't understand either.  He is a Pashai, and I don't understand it, but we even see it in the terp tent Naikpai being hazara, Dinar, Tajik, Fareed, pashtun.  

I listened as Josh and Maj Davidson reported on their trip to the Corps.  The Marines up there seem to think that most ANA don't steal, and that they are not in it for themselves.  Speaking to the Danes who run the GSU up there, they were told that the GSU commander recieves about $30,000 US per month and pays off Malouk the Corps commander, directly.  I think they take it personally when you tell them their Afghans suck. 

I the afternoon we worked on turnover stuff and  Iwas ordered to take a nap.  I slept much monger than expected and the boss excused me from the meeting after I briefed my portion.  

I have been thinking about two other things.  

It doesn't matter what you want, only what is possible.  I think that should be the dictum of advising. 

I also wonder whether or not the awards process at the end of tours prevents Marines soldiers etc from being unbiased observers.  Everyone wants to feel like they made a difference.  Commanders write up awards for the hard work of subordinates and are not going to talk about the things that they couldn't accomplish because they were too hard because people are self-rationalizing.  People also start to believe what they continually say, write and read, regardless of veracity.  It is just the way people are.  This is especially true of things that people write/create themselves and put effort into.  America expects unbiased observations from the military, but is that really possible after all, they are human beings.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Month 10 Day 23

Notebook Entry
Reports given, what you want versus what is possible, awards and unbiased perspective, drawdown, intelligence officer too busy to work.

Journal entry

I am writing this waiting for the METLs/Training plan review/'Call on me Thursday

I got up and did a fair bit in the morning.  I was feeling pretty good, then I ran to the gym and by the time I got there I felt like something took the wind out of my sails.  I'm just really physically tired.  I lifted weights, my muscles responded, but I was just feeling out-of-gas plain and simple.  

I got back and fought to catch up with my inbox.  I did that reasonably successfully.  

I tried to meet up with the Maj in the Morning but Salim was sick, so he said he was too busy to do anything.  

At noon time I asked if he wanted to come eat chow, this is normally a 'hell yah' but he said no, 'but you can come eat Afghan food' nan afghani boukho. I told him no thanks.  I didn't tell him that I got sick the day prior from eating the unsanitary stuff, but I really couldn't do it two days in a row.   I went to lunch with the linguists dinar complained about the food yesterday and said that they must have really been skimming a lot of money off the top if that was all they could afford for the general, it was supposed to be a feast.

In the afternoon I tried to come back and work, but I was feeling like absolute shit and I had to lay down, I missed a graduation for the drivers course, and I felt a little bad, but I was wrecked (I still am). 

I went out and taught Salim a class for an hour.  He is just starting to understand the difference between COIN and conventional war.  That's good.  He said his eyes were bloodshot and his side was hurting, his doctors told him he had to go up to Shorabak, but he wanted to hang around until Qais got back, what a good soldier. 

I met up with Tawoos thereafter, he wanted me to help him hang a map that he brought down with him.  I thought it was one big map, no it was 10 map sections.  He basically supervised as I crawled around on the ground with Naikpai and put it together.  He found a million excuses to leave the room.  Sigh

After the meeting I brought Naikpai a CD with some photos on it, he was the duty linguist and the only one in his tent.  I rolled in there and his little umpa lumpa ass is inside his sleeping bag just his face poking out watching some chick get railed from behind, he looks at me red-faced and gave his best nan-chalant thank you very much.  I'm not going to get that picture out of my head for a while. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Month 10 Day 22

Notebook entries
18 reports given, convoy to Delhi, met new camp, 0706306370?, Patrol Base Amir, sharp, Khoshtay, breakdown on the way back, Base defense operations center.

Journal entry
Went on a convoy to Garmsir. 

The First stop was Dehli the Battalion HQ.  The Maj Tawoos immediately set out networking.  I am proud of the guy.  I did the same.  I ran to try to find the new guys who just came down from the Corps Military intel company.  I found them and when I came back I walked in on Maj Tawoos talking to the head ANA G-2 HUMINT trainee, nice.  We also went to talk to the Legacy mentors.  The Legacy Mentor said that their funds for HUMINT were stopped by MoD, the ostensible reason for them is HUMINT funding irregularities.  He has his own conspiracy theories, the general up there didn’t get a cut, the general up there doesn’t like the Helmand, who knows what the truth is.  He also said they have major problems with things like target acquisition because their source can’t look at a map and make heads or tails of it, so they need some way for us to que other ISR assets to make actionable into out of it. There is a really murky relationship between the MICO guys and the regular ANA intel, but the long and short is that their mentor is saying that we can task them, that’s good. We had lunch with the General at the Afghan chow hall.  It was pretty decent, especially this jerky-chicken thing they had.  That was really good.

We went from there down to PB Amir.  Sgt Mondt, my driver, absolutely sucked.  He has a difficult time understanding the dimensions of his own vehicle, he ran into a bridge, and drove like he was scared the whole time.  He ran into old IED holes.  I miss LCpl Zach Rausnitz, my old driver. 

I don’t see any real change in Garmsir, same mud huts, same boys jumping in canals or Whacking goats/donkeys/cows with sticks to herd them wherever they should go. 

We got down to PB Amir where one of the new companies from the 4th kandak was placed.  I wanted to go around and check everything out and talk to everyone, but I got food poisoning, as I usually do, from the ANA food, go I emptied my colon and tried to take a nap. 

From there we moved to COP Sharp and COP Khosarabad, both company positions with about a platoon worth of Afghans the general gave a little speech with his kevar on the back of his head and his belly protruding, and then he demanded cold water.  The little princess.  The Afghan soldiers told him about their problems, and he moved on.

On the way back we dropped off the team commander for 1/3 a captain who looked for all the world just like the guy Jacob from Twilight at Dehli and we headed back home.  I found a decent route so we didn’t get bounced around too bad, and I thought we were going to make decent time, then the seat of one of the Afghan HMMWVs collapsed.  The seat was over the batteries and the Afghans had no idea how to fix it, but they knew the seat was tangled up in wires, so what did they do, but start cutting wires.  When Capt Nowak came up they had somehow splashed water all over the area, had exposed wires, the entire mess was sparking and smoking, so what was a small problem became a big one and we had to rig the stupid thing for tow.

I got us back to the base with little further incident, but when we got there we were held up by the BDOC, base Defense Operations Center. These guys are reservists from Texas and they view the Afghans like Mexicans.  We had  permission to enter the base, permission to enter the military ECP, but when we got there they were giving us all kinds of grief.  I was pissed off and tired, by now it was past 2000 and we were not going to turn around and got to the main ECP, it was straight bullshit.  They try to stop the ANA under the auspices of making sure they clear their weapons, but it’s just bullshit.  Anyway I about lit the kids up on post, and the Gunny went crazy on them.  The LtCol was much more calm and was able to brow-beat the BDOC into figuring it out.  Good thing he was there.  If it were up to me I would have just driven onto the camp and broken their little string.  All this way and who do we fight with, ourselves, our own stupid fucking policies and nonsense.  We’ve got to go.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Month 10 Day 21

Notebook entry
14 reports given, $1 million per mile, $14.5 billion, 1000 per head, combined combat operations center morning, class Salim key terrain, test for intelligence :-),Sgt. Reisner almost hit.

Journal entry
I looked up the GDP stats for this country.   They are up from a base of 2.5 Billion when we invaded to 14.5 billion now about $1000 per head.  The statistics are a bit whacked because GDP includes FDI, but if GDP even increased at a base rate of say 20% there would be nothing like the GDP they have now.  I don't see how this is sustainable.  I am listening to another Ahmad Rasheed book, it is called descent into Chaos.  He talks about the cost of rebuilding the ring road, first built in the 1905s us the US and and USSR, apparently it cost the US $1million per mile.  Wow. 

I took the S2 and the S3 to the CCOC this morning.  The S2 was happy to learn a bit more about pattern analysis.  Maj Kraus wanted to 'partner' so I told him to come over and talk to Maj Tawoos.  As I suspected, shortly after speaking, Maj Tawoos started asking him for stuff.  I had prepped him and made sure that he was ready with the answer 'Capt Scott Shane will happily teach you how to fill out your own forms and get your own supplies.'  I had a chat with the Maj thereafter about classes.  He said that he was too busy for class, but when I asked him his schedule he couldn't give me anything that he was doing between 1400 and 1500, so I said 'you're not really busy the whole day then' anyway.  He was basically resistant to all teaching and I told him 'look this isn't my order it is from your XO'  "well he's going to have to assign me an hour every day if he wants me to do class." it was pretty childish and I was really annoyed.  I have fought this battle a million times.  Each of these guys think they know everything about intel and they don't want to learn.

I met up with Salim at 1500 and gave him another class.  He is memorizing the places in the AO well, and has his directions almost down.  He can brief a couple of slides from the beginning of the IPB pretty well.  We talked about key terrain and how canals really work, how they need to be dug out, created, all of the things that go into them.  Maj Tawoos came in and watched for a little while and spoke up with his own definitions of key terrain, they were right and it was nice, but Salim quit participating as soon as he came in.  I think he felt embarrased

I gave the Major a test on the METLs after I finished with Salim. He knows a lot of stuff.  He is solid on his HUMINT knowledge, and he's pretty good on his regular knowledge.  I'm stoked.  He wants to get down and get his own sources at the kandaks.  I started discouraging that telling him that his job should be to manage, not to run sources himself.  That might be an uphill battle. oh well.

Sgt Risner almost got hit during his own drivers course and the general exacted immediate justice on the guy (had one of his goons slap him three times).  Sigh

The LtCol pulled me aside and said that he was submitting me for a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V.  He told me he wanted to pull me aside because people were probably going to come down and start asking questions about it.  They might even ask me questions about it.  He's like I just want you to be prepared, think about what you did and be ready to tell them what you did.  He said he was putting in there that I raised Air Support when ANGLICO did not, that when they arrived I directed them to some key areas, that air support slackened the small arms fire that we were taking.  He said that I called a QRF and contacted the two levels of command up, keeping everyone informed, I dismounted from my truck and swept back to his vehicle using my metal detector this allowed him to dismount and move the vic.  That I directed the ANA, posted a roadblock, etc. He said that I did this while the ANA were running in every direction, the Poles were trying to figure out what was going on, and we were still under observation and fire. All of this is true.  I am a bit conflicted about it.  I feel like most guys who get a Combat V are doing something more heroic.  Running through grazing machine-gun fire while carrying a buddy, but I guess not.  Most of those guys get a silver star or medal of honor or something like that.  I don't feel altogether heroic.  My actions might have saved some other guys from getting hurt.  I didn't violate my training in any way.  I learned how to coordinate air support, QRFs, pass grids, use metal detectors, and everything like that at IOC, TBS or before.  I didn't do anything nuts, like run back there with just my pistol in my hand to figure out what was happening, I just did my job.  Do I rate it, I don't know. I must admit I don't feel like my actions were heroic, they were logical at the time, but other people, like a LtCol with a bunch of combat experience seem to think they were particularly good.  It's just wierd.  Other people don't understand, can't understand just as I didn't until today.  I think I understand now why guys don't talk about this.  With this, I am going to join their ranks and not talk about it again unless someone actually needs to know.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Month 10 Day 20

Notebook entry
Morning combined combat operations center, analysis, Salim map reading, :-), map creation, free trucks, petroleum oil and lubricants.

Journal entry
I went to the Combined COC in the morning.  I tried to describe to the S2 what we are hoping he will be able to do every morning.  That is, look at the Significant activity from the day prior and make some assessment of what they enemy are up to, planning, etc.  After I showed the s-2 he wanted me to show Salim as well.  It was a bit of a pain.  Salim has really been stepping-up of late and the same things happen to them as happen to us in the USMC.  Competence is a curse, so Salim is told that he needs to drive everyone over to the commander's conference.  Anyway.  I went back to the CCOC a second time to teach Salim the same stuff for a second time. 

In the midst of writing this.  I just caught a rat in the COC.  I put the trap out for him earlier, he has been screwing with me for the last three days.  He is 13 inches long from head to tail and 7 inches long from nose to the end of his body.  I had to smash the trap a second time because it didn't kill him right the first time.  That wasn't nice. 

Anyway,  so I taught salim that stuff and I also showed him how to pull up maps on Google maps.  If they every get the internet that could be a good resource for them since they can't give it viruses. 

The ANA brought two brand new firetrucks down yesterday Ford F-550s, with a really nice rig on the back.  I can only imagine how expensive they are.  I took a couple pictures of one of them.  The ANA had hoisted it up by the grill-guard, breaking that, and the tow truck they were using was gushing spurting hydralic fluid when they removed the wheel support.  These guys aren't new, they are from 5th kandak and have been around for a year and a half.

I gave the weather to salim, but I was so sick that I had to lay down.  When I woke up Brian was watching young frankenstein on his computer.  The only thing that struck me as odd was the way they dealt with rape, twice in the movie it was a punch-line, and the woman was totally good after the fact, smoking a cigarette with the Creature.  I don't think that would happen in modern movies, but when I think back to the Shakespearian era jokes about cutting off maiden heads, or to the decameron where the punch line of one of the stories was a guy going into another guys house and accidentally sleeping with his wife because she was in the wrong bed.  Mores have changed, I wonder where they are going?

In the meeting they talked about depending on the ANA for Petrolium, Oil and Lubricants (POL) they switched over contractors.  The old one used to fix the ANA's stuff for them, the new one is supposed to train the ANA.  Shock, the ANA supply system is not dependable and we are now looking into how we can buy oil, fuels, etc. for them with Field Ordering Officer money because it is an emergency and we are worried that they will just keep driving their trucks until the motors blow up. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Month 10 Day 19

Notebook entry
Practice at combined combat operations center, don't have time for class, conversation, grand strategy, $14.75 per meal, commanders conference, three dollars per day per head

Journal entry
I went over to the combined COC in the morning with Maj Tawoos.  He was over there to do 'analysis' on the sigevents.  I don't know how he was supposed to do that, when all of the boards are cleared everyday, but...After that I linked up with Maj Kraus, to practice their combined brief for the commander's conference. We didn't have a linguist, so I acted as one as best as I could.  After that we returned to the CCOC, and I talked to Maj Tawoos about classes with Salim, he said that Salim was busy today and there shoudln't be a class.  I said ok, so does that mean I get 2 hours tomorrow?  "shoyat" maybe.  I can see this is going to be a struggle.  I need to get him into a rythmn and make sure that class gets slotted in somewhere during the day.

I spoke to the lunch guy at the DFAC he says they only spend 14.75 on every meal, thats less than I would have thought given how far it all travels. 

In the afternoon, since I couldn't do class with Salim because he and the Major were both at the commander's conference, I sat in my room and had a conversation about the lack of US grand strategy in the world and how we coudl learn a lot from Australia, the UK, and France.  Capt Arthur said the first of his priorities would be liberalism.  He and Capt Brawny got off on a tangent about communism because Graham, as he normally does 'turns the non-sequetor machine up to 11' as Brian says, and starts blathering on about things that don't logically make sense, but that he reads in his right-wing books.

We are using my roster to try to narrow the gap between their headcount and our headcount.  They get $3 per head per day for chow money because they are in a remote location.  This can add up pretty fast and augment the income of the officers.  We are currently looking at a discrepancy of 31 at this level or $2790.  A lot when a general makes less that $1000 per month.  We'll see. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Month 10 Day 18

Notebook entry
Six reports given, military intelligence company moving in, table of organization and equipment to intelligence, area of operations familiarization, Salim gave class, lunch with linguists, SPG-9 class, “these marines are doing it right", General Petraus, Lieut. Gen. Rodriguez coming, sing a song.

Journal entry
Had a bit of an issue with the Military Intelligence Company guys from the ANA moving into our AO.  They decided they were just going to come and not inform the Brigade, send a message, etc.  This is a bit frustrating.  They are going to just exist and the kandaks with no support relationship defined.   They are still going to report directly to the Corps.  The worry is that the kandak will misuse them.  This is a well-founded fear.

I had a pretty good meeting with the S2.  We talked about the Table of Organization, who was missing etc.  I gave him a quick rundown of what was going on in the AO.  He was really worried about having a good showing at the meeting in the morning and at the commander’s conference.   Apparently, he speaks excellent English, but he hasn’t said anything yet.  I think he’s been trying to scope me out to see if I say anything incriminating…intel guys 

I had lunch with a terps again.  We agreed that all women are the same everywhere in at least one regard.  When you are a little boy, only three feet tall, they think they can placate you for an entire day of shopping by getting you and ice cream cone.  IT’S NOT TRUE. 

After lunch Salim presented all of the information he knows about the AO to the RCT and to the new S2.  The RCT intel chief was not impressed, and came out saying ‘God bless you, sir.’ The S2 officer said that Salim was doing very well, and that we should continue to teach him along those lines, teaching him cardinal directions, where stuff is in the AO.  The S2 officer really talks a good game, he wants to get to the kandaks, wants to get the right amount of people, he clearly wants to learn what’s happening in the AO.  I’m trying not to get too excited.

After dinner we had our evening meeting. Apparently LTG Rodriguez is coming down from the Highest level of command in Afghanistan to visit.  Gen Petraus saw what we were doing with the Combined Combat Operations Center and said ‘this is the model to follow’ if only he knew that just today the Amer-Tachnique, told Dr Noori, the linguist “why don’t I say a bunch of bullshit, sing a song or dance a jig in the evening turnover meeting with the Marines and you just tell them what they want to hear.”  Now we have been tasked with flooding the CCOC with a bunch of guys who aren’t retards for the day that the general arrives to see it.  It’s easy to see how Generals get a screwed-up picture in their heads. The proof is in the output, not in how it looks, but I guess that is too much of a pain-in-the-ass to measure.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Month 10 Day 17

Notebook entry
53 reports given, conversation with dinar, conversation with the major, Dr.'s birthday.

Journal entry
In the morning I was only able to sleep until 0630, that was not fun because I was really tired and needed to get some extra sleep.  I couldn't.  I went to the shower cut my hair had my Friday breakfast in the chow hall, and then came back to camp.  I fought the battle of the inbox most of the morning and did a good job of it.  I was nice that I was able to access my e-mail from LNK because I didn't have so much to catch up on.  

I took Dinar to lunch.  He spoke to me about how bad he felt about how the Gunny treated him.  I told him everything I could think of.  Gunny's omnidirectional hatred because of his failed marriage, poor relationship with his daughters, the rejection of the USMC.  I told him how we couldn't touch the Gunny because he had reached sanctuary, and how Dinar shouldn't take these things personally.  I told him how other people see what they are expecting to see and therefore see a lazy Afghan when they look at the linguists because that is what they expect.  I told him how to try to turn the other cheek, I talked about Job, I talked about persecution even unto death, and that is where I had to stop.  I felt really bad for him.  

He's like. "you know how it makes me feel when educated marines (12th grade education) say that "I hate this country, I hate all of the lazy fuckers in it.  Do you know how much of my family I risk to be here?  Do you know how much I am reviled by the Taliban. I don't want to complain to the boss because I don't want to be weak, and because he alreday has a million problems with the general.  Just sometime, when Col Schmitt asks, how things are going with the team I want to tell him the truth, but instead I tell him, it's all great, sir."

I met up with Major Tawoos this afternoon.  He is a man with one lazy eye, about 5,5 and a normal build.  I walked into the bedroom and it was cleaner than when it was just Salim.  He had rearrangeed it, there was now a soldier to serve Chai, he gave us some ubiquitous crappy candy and poured some glasses.  He told me  that he started in the Army 25 years ago under the Russians, that he began as a commando went to school in russia, came back and after the Russians fell he stayed in the Army, they put him in the infantry.  When the Taliban came to power he didn't have a job, and then when Karzai came in he rejoined.  He has been working for the pastsix years in Zabul and Qandahar.  Most of his time has been in Counterintel and in HUMINT working for the legacy program.  He told me as he took a drag on his 'pine' brand cigarettes.  He informed me that he really needed to make sure there were no threats inside of the Army and that he had already spoken to the XO about getting a counterintel officer at each of the kandaks.  He had no idea that they were missing regular intel officers.  He has eight kids, three boys, the oldest boy is 14 and the rest are girls.  They live in Kabul and he hasn't been able to see them in two months.  He was hoping to get transferred to Kabul after working for 6 years in the south, but he was not able to.  I told him about his predecessors, he shook his head an agreed that a lot of the officers try to buy their positions, and they are only in it for the money.  He wanted to know how the section was doing and how things were going in the brigade.  I gave him my assessment of his sergeants and how intel was not functioning right now.  He said he needed help with getting air conditioners and stuff for his office and room, I told him that they used to have offices with A/C, but because the S-2 was gone so long other officers took over those places.  He's said this is the most important thing.  I said "really, I thought the most important thing was beating the Talban" He smiled wryly and said "yah, you're right."  I told him about the training goals I had to accomplish with him, the class schedule, my weekly reports, how and when I give them reports, and how things needed to go. He seemed a bit resistant, "I have a lot of experience." well I've heard that before, we'll see.  I set up a time for Salim to show him all that he has learned in the past few months.  I asked him to be careful of Salim's feelings.  Salim has not learned a lot, but he has done his best, worked hard for an Afghan (1 hour per day of class), that's all I ask.  

I went to the birthday of the Hospital Corpsman rate, it is a dumbed down Marine Corps ball, but it is good that they have a little special esprit for the harder lives that they lead with Marines as opposed to how they live on ship.