Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Month 10 Day 11

Notebook entry
Four reports given, homosexuals in Freidan, all the weight on the job, Salim commanders conference, bat power down, $40,000 dinars wedding, whistleblowing article Wall Street Journal, Iraq military dysfunction, trash picked up, Salim video teleconference, intelligence preparation of the battle space maps reaction, new guy assigned to intelligence, communication Shura, maintenance trailer running.

Journal entry
About ¾ of the way through Betty Friedan’s book.  It is ironic that a book which critiques societies values is still part of that society.  She has a chapter about how housewives have more gay sons that I think a lot of folks today would take major offense to.  I also wonder about the book in the Afghan context since that is so often on my mind.  She seems to put a lot of value on an occupation.  Not only am I finding little value in my work outside the home right now, but when I look around at the Afghans they certainly do not.  Dinar told me at lunch that he is going to need to spend a total of 40,000 on his wedding.  10,000 for the dowry, 10,000 of the engagement party, 10,000 for the Henna part, and another 10,000 for the wedding itself.  These guys place so much value on the home and so little value on work.  If they could they would just lay about and watch TV all day.  Friedan says that work will increase to fill the time allotted.  I don’t think that is the truth at all over here looking around at our linguists or our Afghans.  There is something different about Americans (or is it western Europeans?, or colonists?), their industriousness that is unique to our culture.  If Friedan had said America values work more than staying at home and forces women to stay home, thus devaluing their contribution, then she would have a stronger argument rather than trying to make a universalist argument.  I think these guys are a product of their culture, just as we are.  They are rational utility maximizers, but what provides that utility is different for them.  Likewise their sense of community, identity, who they consider to be ‘us’ is totally different.  Friedan’s book really brings out for me how much both values and identity vary culture to culture.

I worked with Salim in the morning on the Commander’s conference brief.  I convinced him to put in stuff about the 5Ws and manning, but he also wanted to put in random stuff like what nationality the TB were and make/model/type of vehicle.  Oh well he is still learning. The BATs system was out of commission because the power cord was broken. 

I sat in on the weekly staff meeting.  I must admit they are improving at least with their powerpoint wizardry.  They were passing some incorrect info (e.g. 100% of the VHF radios have been fielded) but it looks better. 

I went to lunch with the linguists. We talked about marriage.  Dinar about the high price of his marriage, and how he was going to tell his Father-in-law to get stuffed.  Girls over here can get married at 16.  Sammy is 22 and is going to wait until he’s about 26 to get engaged he said he can pick his own wife, but he wants his mom to pick for him.  He is a little bit of an idealist I think.  His whole service to Afghanistan thing. He is also very religious, he was talking about the Quran and how it says a man should get married when he is sexually mature and lusting after women (to which I said what, like 12 or 13), then he said only after he can also support his family.  This seems very odd because they have so many kids and don’t worry too much about human capital investment in them. Hmm.

There was a good article in the WSJ about Whistleblowing, and another about the continued dysfunction of the Iraqi military.  It makes me wonder if we are going to be in a similar place here around 2014…

I wonder if I’ve been too hard on these guys.  They have been picking up the trash around camp.  There are no more piss bottles on the ground outside of the guard towers.  I wonder if it is my negative attitude.  I also talked to Maj James Blitz and he said that the other brigades were not having the same HUMINT funding troubles.  Hmm, I want to be open to the possibility that I have just had a bad brigade, we’ll see in a couple of days. 

I did another class with Salim on IPB.  He still can’t find us on the map.  The XO came over and watched, but then slapped his leg when he couldn’t find us.  He is learning though.  It isn’t fast, but he is getting better.  Maybe it isn’t a matter of whether or not things are improving, but at what rate.  Does picking up piss bottles, and finding yourself one a map after nine months constitute a fast enough rate of change?

The Corps CoS directive came down to put more guys into intel, but rather than get unused guys like the GSU Assistant Public Affairs officer, they decided to pull the one guy from the logistics section.  This churning and eating your own is going to kill us. I am stoked about the Amer-Technique, he is smart, but we are robbing peter to pay Paul.  Is there enough human capital to go around?

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