Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Month 12 Day 21

Notebook entry
Eight reports given, I am the anti-tribe, Munir flirting, executive officer wall and stage.

Journal entry
Today was a day to remember. 

It started out like any other day, some weird dream about a mouse infestation, normal routine, normal run, normal 3S.  But this day was extrodinary. 

When I came back from the shower, a wet back against my backpack, I stepped into the COC.  It went to the desk to fish my two CLIF bars out for breakfast.  I turned around and looked at the nametapes of the Marines congregated in the center of the COC.  Lt Siegel, my savior, was there. 

He was shorter than me and excitedly grasped my hand when I said “Capt Scott Shane”

I think I was gladder to see him than he was to see me though.

It seemed familiar.  I was in his shoes not long ago.  He is eager to do the things that he has been trained to do. 

Before we really had a chance to meet I met with the literacy instructors and talked to them about class attendance.  They had offered up their classroom for recoilless rifle training (rockets).  I asked Shafiullah what the deal was and I got “wazi fai ma n’est” its not my job.  “If the students don’t show up, then what am I supposed to do?”  I could tell him what he is not supposed to do.  Be sleeping during class time, like I found him.

We gave them a series of classes in the morning on all of the reports that they will be expected to submit. I covered my piece of the pie, the literacy instructors, Data Transfer Agent, Foreign Disclosure representative, the attendance program, the command chronology. 

We went on a walkabout with the new guys, showing them all of the buildings in progress.  The Gunny piped up at several spots throughout the tour which elicited, askance views from Capt Nowak and the others, “how do you know how far the run is around the camp?”  “I got it off of a Facebook post” was his quick reply.  The LtCol told me that the new team was wowed by my Dari. 

After that Lt Siegel was all mine.  I barraged him with information until the 1815 meeting.  Even when I did the class with Munir I was really teaching him.  When I told him that the next class was going to be his he was happy.  When I woke Munir up, and asked why he was sleeping while he said he was on duty,  Lt Siegel seemed a little taken aback.  The guy has a good perspective.  He knows that these guys are the way out, but he doesn’t really understand the people yet.   He understands what he reads in the newspapers about what is happening in Kabul, but he doesn’t yet understand that this is not a country, but merely the place where all of the other countries end.  He took my pointed advice as dissatisfaction with my job.  I didn’t intend for it to come off like that.  I was trying to tell him what makes these guys tick, what they want.  Ultimately, he will have no command authority over them, merely influence, and the only way to really secure that influence is by appealing to their desires.  Not what they expect from him (to give them stuff).  But to their desires.  He still thinks like an American, and he thinks like a Marine (he wanted to know who wasn’t gay on the Afghan camp—I had to tell him that despite them having sex with each other I don’t think many of them were gay, they just don’t treat women well, ever see them, so they’ve got to have a sexual outlet).  Inside of every one of them is a Marine, buried deep down, or so he thinks.  I feel kind of bad because he seems crestfallen, maybe he will just think I am a nut until he learns it for himself, but maybe that will take many wasted months. 

A couple of things occurred to me today. 

First was about me.  I think I am the anti-tribe.  It’s not that I don’t have the urge to join a tribe, be it of a political type, or another type. I have the same urges as everyone else.  The difference is that I am very reluctant to give up my own judgment about things. To the group, any group.  Perhaps this is why I am such a slave to my routine.  Because it allows me to offload a lot of the thinking about daily actions that most people depend on cues from others to obtain, there is no carpooling to breakfast, no deviating from lunch for me.  I’ll just run there myself, and walk back.  I think I am afraid of tribes because they will make me more stupid.  There is nothing wrong with a collection of people who believe the same things that I do, but I don’t want to believe the same things that others do merely because I belong to a section of people.  Its not that I’m not a member of a tribe, it’s that I am anti-tribe.

The other thing that occurred to me recently and I don’t know if I mentioned it was that Munir has been trying to flirt with me.  Every time that I get upset with him he kind of lowers his head, looks up at me through long lashes, gives me a creeping smile and says nothing.  It’s the kind of wry look that a boy gives a girl when he is being coy.  I think this is because he has always been able to use his good looks to flirt his way out of trouble with other men.  At first I thought it was just his way, but now I think I see more.

The other things to note are that the XO is now finished with his giant wall around his container, and that he has a stage built for himself now.  It is made out of a couple of the old pallets that we were going to use to boost the tents, I pounded the damn thing together myself when it was being used as a port-a-john shade, and anyone to stands on it is taking his life in his own hands. 

Handover Briefings with the new guys

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