Thursday, July 4, 2013

Month 11 Day 4

Notebook entry
Seven reports given, one draft intelligence information report, antivirus installed Qias review and conference call preparation.

Journal entry
Happy Independence day.

In the morning GySgt K worked with Qais on the S2 computer.  He
updated the antivirus software.  I went over and tried to work with
Qais to try to get him to call the S2 officer.  I was trying to get
him to get guidance from the S2 on what to talk about at the weekly
teleconference.  Capt Fareed from 2nd Kandak was there in all of his
moustachioed glory.  I invited him to the conference as well.  I tried
to review with Qais some of the things that we had worked on before I
left.  He still doesn't know his cardinal directions, but his grasp of
the different places within the AO is getting much better.  It really
was a review for most of it and not a reteaching session as I had

I went to lunch with Sammy.  That was pretty fun.  I told him about
the history of his tribe that I had learned from Wikipedia, and he was
pretty interested.  He helped me out on some of the Dari problems that
I was having too. We talked about missing our loved ones.  I am not
sure if it would be worse to do one giant two-year deployment or two
smaller ones.  If I had the choice, then I think I'd do it all at
once, then you can skip the hardest bits (saying goodbye) get into a
rhythm, and you would have to deal with the readjustment when you come

In the afternoon I allowed myself my 14:30 of LinkedIn time.  I see
how people get addicted to this stuff, and I am determined not to.

I tried to go to the Contracting Office and get my Assistant
Contracting Officer Representative Qualification that I need to
oversee the literacy program, but the damn thing was closed.  They
said that they had a day off on account of the 4th.  I'm like what? I
haven't had a fucking day off since we got here to include christmas,
but you guys are taking a day off for the 4th?  This really is turning
into a garrison base, and we are turning into an occupation force.  We
need to get out.

I came back in time to set up the conference call for the S2 guys.
While we were doing it Capt CJ Radin told me the great idea that he and
Maj Kraus had.  He told me that they had decided that we should
start giving basically all of the intel reporting the Afghans are
allowed to have/see to them. I said 'great, but who's going to
translate it.'  'that's a good question'
I then said "You can do that if you want" deliberately not committing
myself to the task that they were basically trying to delegate to me.
"I've already given them over 1100 reports, and they don't do anything
that remotely relates to analysis, they just want the answer, they
don't want to actually piece together the puzzle.  I have been trying
to get them to just look at the reporting, put a little thought into
it, start linking together some of the key figures with string, pins
and using regular old folders, and they have not been willing to do
it.  They just want me to give them the right answer. Reporting is not
the choke point, they need to learn to use what they have before we
start throwing more at them."  Then I translated a bit of the report
that Qais was getting on the telephone from first kandak 'now he's
telling him the number of enemy groups, now he's telling him the
'commanders' (none of which match ours' now he's telling him the
number of pkm, rockets, rpgs, pistols, now hes reporting the number of
friendly posts.' 'a lot of that is ops stuff' CJ Radin said. 'Yah I know,
but the problem is that they are asked to report these numbers by
their higher HQ, and the commanders and XOs are the only people who
don't have a phase progression.  The General was a Muj and has no idea
what he is supposed to expect, so a bunch of it falls to the XO, who
just spouts the same shit the Soviets told him to get, it is
completely worthless, but the 'general' is a 'general' and you can't
teach him because he is too proud, or that is the assumption at
least-a reasonable one in my opinion, at least to start off with.
'That is why I was so excited about the Major coming over here,
bringing Tawoos to the General with his new list of PIRs and talking
about how important they are, because it is the only way that I can
teach him without appearing to teach him (outside of deliberately
doing my classes in the combined briefing room which adjoins to the
General's sleeping quarters, and I know he can and does listen in
because he has commented on my classes).  CJ Radin gave me his glassy-eyed
stare clearly not comprehending anything that I said.  It was by now
the 2nd Kandak S2's time to brief, he had just finished up having
Sammy do the addition of all of the enemy in his AO because he lacked
the ability to add.  He proceeded to slowly read his entire report
line-by-line to Qais and 1st Kandak, 'The following are the
achievements of 2nd Kandak, we have captured the following number of
Dragunov rounds...'  he was done.  He handed the report to Qais who
dutifully signed for it in the log, put it in a manila envelope, and
no doubt would never look at it again.  He was very proud of himself
when he was done, and he assured me that in his report he had already
given the weather to Qais, so there was no need for him to get it from
me.  "It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter" he said
confidently.  While true, it lacked the level of detail that one hopes
for from an intelligence officer...

I went to dinner, the chow hall workers had carved a 5 foot tall
helicopter out of foam and a statue of liberty out of foam.  We ate
steamship beef, steak, shrimp creole, mashed potatoes, candied yams,
salad, and 'holiday cake' which looked mysteriously like Army birthday
cake.  Are we still in a war zone?

I came back and the meeting had been postponed because the Maj and
LtCol wanted to play volleyball with the ANA.  None of the Capts want
to play because the LtCol is hypercompetative, that's not all bad if
you have a chance at winning, but when the Afghans wipe the floor with
you every single stinking game it's no fun because he gets all pissed
off and starts trying to play every position.

So here I lie, on my bed typing this out, just killing time waiting
for this damnable meeting, whenever it may be.  I'm trying to download
an audio book.  I don't know how much longer this 30 day internet plan
is going to last.  A bunch of the other guys were complaining that
theirs just conked out this morning, so mine is not far behind.  In
need to get the downloads while the downloading's good and it seems to
work best when you are working on something else for some reason.

That's about all for now I suppose.

From Left to right, Yours truly, Capt Brawney, Capt Arthur

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