Winding Down

AF ETT leader is smiling.

Shortly approaching 11 months of deployment, we are starting to wind down.  In fact, we received notice our tours may be cut short by a couple of weeks.  The mission we had has changed and the Army is implementing the partnership concept.  This means they will work much closer with the ANA counterparts and they will be able to shift from non-kinetic to kinetic.  But the primary focus will be on kinetic operations and hunting down the insurgents.  Except under this concept, coalition forces will be side by side with the ANA counterparts and engaged in operations.  For most Air Force personnel, we are not allowed to actively engage in kinetic operations and this is why we were assigned logistical missions and mentoring.  Because of this change, our mission will end and soon we will return home to our loved ones.

So now it’s just a matter of tying up loose ends and passing on the torch to our Army teammates so they don’t have to recreate the wheel.  I’m certain several of the functions we mentored will go unfilled due to manpower utilization.  I seriously doubt if anyone will continue mentoring the Religious Officer, Mullah, or the Sgt Major.  Instead, they will focus the manpower on core competencies and actively train the soldiers for combat.

Raising the Afghan flag.

The other morning, I watched a group of ANA soldiers raise their national flag.  I wouldn’t call it honor guard material, but I do call it progress and the soldier in charge saluted as a sign of respect.  Even these small traditions being practiced are a positive sign of ownership and of the future to come in the following years.

Do I look like a cop?

After the flag rising, my teammate borrowed my interpreter’s glasses and pretended to be a cop.  He is one of the last participants on the team participating in Moustache March.  Several of my teammates opted to grow a moustache for the month of March.  Some of them looked hideous and have shaved them off.  But there are still two strong contenders letting their lip hair grow until the end of the month.

When I returned to camp, the Afghan contractors were busy applying the final touches on the security wall.  They were hanging the concertina wire atop the metal posts.  It’s a rather unique way of stringing c-wire using a piece of lumber with a nail tacked in the end of it.  I’m not sure OSHA would approve, but at least one person wore gloves to handle the razor sharp wire.

A unique way of stringing C-wire.

Out of the blue, a helicopter using a sling delivered a load of lumber to our camp.  This wood was ordered through the supply system several months ago and finally has arrived.  The only problem is we borrowed and scrounged other lumber for our projects because we didn’t know if the order would ever arrive.

Sling load of lumber.

Due to the warm weather, the basketball court and sand volleyball court is frequently being used.  My teammates have gone out there on several occasions to play volleyball.  Someone found more tarps and covered the bare c-wire to keep the ball from popping on contact.

Teammates playing volleyball.

It was a very mild winter here and it appears the drought is going to continue.  According to the local newspaper, farmers yield with their crops could be decreased by 30 percent.

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