20 reports given, teleconference, class with sergeants, one last request.
In the morning I woke up and did my normal routine. Siegel didn’t wake up at the same time. He woke up at 0600 and decided to go running with me, and to the gym, etc. I felt bad because I didn’t tell him not to bring his uniform with him, but it ended up working out in the end because he didn’t have any chow for the morning, and he would not have been able to go into the chow hall in just PT gear.
I turned over the classified Material Custodian job at 0730. That’s one thing off of my plate. We then rolled into getting him set up on his SIPR and NIPR workstations and me walking him through everything that he needed to know about how I organized my files.
The connection to the network was extraordinarily slow. Come to find out, that was because the built a hangar in between the microwave shots. Gunny called comm and their response was, uh, well we’ll get to it, but probably not today. We are like really? You didn’t forsee this problem.
We had pretty good participation from the Brigade on the teleconference this morning. They actually called and reminded the kandaks to show up because I told them to, so we had pretty good participation. The problem is that they are still treating it like a radio. Each kandak just gives their own report, and then they leave. They feel like their job is done, and despite the fact that the kandak boundaries touch one another, they act as though it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the opposite side of the road because that isn’t their job. I had Salim and Qais try to back-brief Siegel and the new S2A on what they know. We worked on the places in the area, the cardinal directions, and they provided them with an overview of the IPB as they know it.
I spoke to the S2A and I was more than a little bit surprised at how little he knew. He said
“That guy didn’t sleep at all last night” gesturing to Salim
“Are these guys on something?”
“Yah, they smoke weed.”
“I’m not worried about that, as long as it’s nothing that’s going to fuck them up. That guy looks like him mom smoked crack while he was still brewing.” Motioning to Qais.
“You know it is still Ramadan, these guys are just starting to show some of the wear from that.”
“How are their tactics? What if the Taliban attacked us right now?”
“They probably wouldn’t do very well, but how many of the RCT sections could fight as a squad very well?”
“The intel shop could.”
Maybe he’s right, and if so, then good on him, he probably did all of the predeployment training to a T, but that’s not what they do here. They are not Marines, not basic infantrymen, and basic infantry platoon commanders. They are Afghan soldiers. That’s a totally different thing. A whole new war nothing learned. It seems that the bid by the ETT to take over the PMT (their PMT made it all the way over here before they figured out that there were no Afghan police to train) has failed.
I talked to Siegel about what they needed to do, how they needed to interact with the Regiment, with the Afghans, etc. He wanted to know when he should go sit and drink Chai with them and all that stuff he learned at the Advisor Training Group. I told him to forget about all of that. They don’t need to like you to learn from you. They fundamentally don’t want to learn, so if they like you, then you are probably not doing your job. It is all brand new to him.
Siegel wanted to know if I had taught them threat weapons (soviet bloc weapons).
“Why does that matter to a Sergeant at the Brigade level?”
“because that’s what the enemy is using.”
“OK, but you can’t teach them everything, what you are suggesting is teaching them something with a low marginal utility compared to their job, they need to figure out where their own units are, how to read a map, the cardinal directions, who to display enemy activity, a whole lot of things are more important than that.”
“I just think it will be easy and keep their attention.”
“OK, but I thought that four cardinal directions would be easy too.”
“that can be conceptually hard to grasp.”
“Brother, I’m just saying if I could press the ‘everything’ button and just have them know everything that they need to know, then I would press that button, but here we need to make choices. I need them to know about their job before I need them to know about threat weapons.”
We bantered some more, and when we were done the Gunny called me back in and said
“you know sir, I had that blow-up the other day about the turnover”
“They’ve already got a campaign plan. If they want to do something, just give them your recommendation, and leave it. Don’t worry about it anymore. I could see your heartbeat increase over there, and for what? They are going to do it when you leave anyway.”
I just can’t not care. A few minutes later we walked into my tent and Siegel asked Brian
“Sir, are you going to miss it.”
“Not at all.”
I spoke up, “I just don’t think that’s true for me. I just can’t not care about it. I want these guys to succeed; I want America to stop hemorrhaging money and blood.”
Brian nodded. He said “the only thing I told them when I gave them a few gifts was that the only gift I needed in return was the promise that in a few years they would be doing this without America. Then they said khuuuh, that would be too much work.”
I just can’t help but be a little passionate about this. That is a little surprising to me.
In the afternoon, I was going to work on some more turnover stuff, but I was not able to. Lt Siegel got pulled away to deal with the crisis du jour for the next team, they didn’t have enough weapons and ammo to draw for the convoy.
I fought the battle of the inbox, signed Siegel up for a bunch of distros, worked on some GMAT prep stuff, and that is about it.
On the way to chow Steve said he was close to being touched today. The Battle Captain called him into the conference room. He started reaching behind the podium. Steve thought “wow, maybe he’s going to give me a gift for all of my hard work.”
“Before you go…” He pulls out the body of a fan and some blades.
“Could you get this installed in the COC for me?”
In the evening meeting it came out that Col Mustafa wanted to take the trucks back. Maj Trevino, now knowing the program after a month here said
“well, you can do that, but it is going to make fuel and water deliveries very difficult.”
Mustafa shut his mouth.
One other seminal event occurred in my life today. I used a cubit as a unit of measure. I had to calculate the volume of a diesel fuel tank, and the volume of the box that is designed to keep the fuel in if anything goes wrong. It turns out that there was no issue. The tank hold 36 cubits cubed and the box it sits in will hold 48 cubits cubed.
Next the Ark…
People would think I was as odd as Noah building one here in Helmand.