24 reports given, us in the backseat, Petranzio’s advisor training group comments.
The following are undated comments from the notebook:
They don't want independence, mesh shirt, Siegel and broken hand, pump burnout, gunnery sergeant and the new team Lt. Col.'s response
Went on one of my last trips to the gym in the morning. It was a good time. I am tired.
I showed the new S1 SSgt how to use the insanely complicated excel that I came up with to track all of the personnel.
Siegel and I then went over to schedule a class with the Sgts and with Munir. He did most of the talking. I hinted at a few key things, like making sure he IDed a time and place for the classes. I told him that the Sgts were acting well to try to impress him.
He said, sagely
“but as soon as you leave they are going to test me. They are only acting well because you are still the hammer.”
When Siegel and I came back we got changed over and met with Sgt Drees and one of his LCpls. Siegel gave them a brief on where the Sgts were up to, observed the class, and then he gave the Sgts some type of talk at the end. I was only there for the beginning of it. He wanted to step up and do it, he is a Marine Officer, he wanted the training wheels to come off, and wanted to make this his own. I was done providing advice.
On my way back one of the Tajik soldiers stopped me and asked me for a set of glasses.
At noon we did some more work.
I did what will probably be my last sell ever to Munir. He wanted to go out and talk to the guys outside of the wire. I told him that was not his job and that he should come to class. My broken Dari, and his desire for reports/weather won out.
I came back and gave an enemy threat brief for our operation tomorrow.
Siegel wanted to teach the class by himself in the afternoon, so he did.
I taught Siegel how to give them the weather.
At the evening meeting LtCol Valquist ordered Capt Arthur to provide the keys to the well and build a Hesco barrier around tent city. He said
“They’ve trained on it for several weeks now with our supervision. They know what to do, if they screw it up, then it’s on them.”
Capt Arthur was resistant because the pump cost about $6000 and will not be replaced for months if it is broken. He is trying to play God, preventing them from using their free will to make choices that they are not good for them.
“It will set them back 6 months from independence if we give it to them now.”
I don’t know who is right.
The Hesco is a major fire hazard, the fire trucks will not be able to make it through to the fire. They want the Hesco because they can’t stop their own soldiers from driving through the camp and smashing the electrical wires. The original solution was to put sand bags on top of them. We provided them sand bags, but they were too lazy to fill them up from their dirt pit.
As I lay here on my cot I have mixed emotions about letting go. I want to help Siegel. I want to guide him and prevent him from falling into the same traps that I did.
I feel something more odd than that. It struck me this afternoon Salim was being his same grouchy self when I woke him up the afternoon to give him the weather. Once I finished with him, I asked him why what he was circling was important. He played coy for a minute, then said what he was trained to say.
“The high temperature is important because it makes long patrols and operations difficult, the high wind is important because it picks up dust and makes it hard for us and airplanes to see.”
I grabbed his oily head pulled him to me and kissed the top of his head.
I made him this way. I feel like I imagine a father must feel letting their kids go. You invest so much time and energy into them, you can’t help but want them to succeed.
Perhaps that’s why they were listening today, perhaps they look at me like a father, or a big brother who tries to look out for them. I may be a mean bastard, and make them come to class even though none of the other sections do, but they know I care. They know it is important to me, so they do me the honor of listening to Siegel when he tells them to show up.
For as much as I want to go, I think I do love these little bastards. They have accepted me as a half-breed. When they hold my hand as we walk grasp my knee as we sit, or take offense when I don’t give them a fully verbose traditional Farsi greeting. They yell at me with excitement in their Afghan pronunciation of my name:
I don’t think this is going to work, but it is painful for me to say that. I want to be wrong. I don’t want Salim or Qais to learn to run the chain roads. I don’t want munir to flee to Tajikistan and work in some restaurant there. I want them to succeed, but I just don’t think they will, and I want to be wrong.
It’s funny what a capacity to surprise myself I have. I never thought I’d say that I love these little guys, that I want them to live good lives, and that I even feel pain at leaving.