One of two truckloads of school supplies.
After delivering the school supplies, our convoy departed the school and returned back to camp. But my day was only half over and after lunch, I would have to prep the items for the ANA mission the next day. Keeping my promise, I divided the inventory in half and waited for the ANA to come to my camp and retrieve the items. A few of my teammates helped load the items. We filled two pick-up trucks to the top with all the school items and then transported them to ANA land. The ANA Brigade Surgeon was happy to see me and couldn’t believe how many boxes of items we brought. We filled his office with boxes of school supplies and a large crate of Beanie Babies. There was barely any room to walk around after we finished.
ANA Brigade Surgeon's office overflowing with boxes of school supplies.
We sat down in his office and drank a customary cup of chai together. We talked about this morning’s mission. The ANA surgeon talked about today’s goodwill and its effects.
Little girl outside the school from morning mission.
By having the US military accompany the ANA, the children had a chance to see the joint partnership in action. He also said when the students go home tonight; they will show their parents the school supplies distributed by the joint US/ANA team. He really hoped we could accompany him on tomorrow’s mission too. But this was impossible since we didn’t recon the village, nor did we receive approval to do this. The ANA would have to do this on their own and this is ultimate pinnacle of success in COIN
Afghan school classroom ... no desks only floor mats.
operations. I don’t think this happens too often, because the US mentors are always with them for this type of village visits. Ultimately the plan is to give all of the military operations to the ANA so we can leave their country and they will assume responsibility for the national security of their homeland.
School boys holding up their notebooks and pencils.
While sipping our tea more information was revealed about today’s school principal. I’m a pretty good judge of character and earlier I mentioned about some reservations about this principal. There was something about his demeanor and nonverbal gestures that perplexed me. I came to find out the reason the school principal did not want us visiting in the morning; it’s because he really doesn’t like the idea of girls going to school. So because of these personal feelings he didn’t want the female students to receive any of the school supplies. Instead, he wanted them distributed only to the
ANA Surgeon handing out school supplies to the little girls.
boys. At first, I was rather appalled by this revelation. But after studying the culture of this country and living here for almost a year, it was understandable even though I didn’t agree with it.
Since Omid wasn’t available, I was using Mir Wais to translate for me. He volunteered to accompany the ANA to the school tomorrow and take pictures with my camera. I just got my camera back and I am posting a few pictures of the visit. Tomorrow I will discuss the trip with him and the ANA Brigade surgeon in detail for additional information.
AF Captain handing out humorous awards.
Later in the evening, my teammates met in the office for a unique presentation. One of the AF captains who has a great sense of humor and too much free time on his hand, created some humorous awards. He tried to pinpoint down our peculiarities and then penned it to appear as an official award from the Air Force. He even signed it as the Chief of Awesomeness. Using his warped sense of humor, he presented me the Information Superiority Medal focusing on my blog and nicknamed me “Brother Teresa”… lol.
Celebrating with cigars and smoked salmon.
Afterward we went to the outside pavilion for some cigars and smoked salmon. I have been saving these items for a special occasion. They were donated by readers of my blog. According to the label on the smoked salmon, the expiration date was 2013, so it should still be palatable. It was very good along with some Ritz crackers. Since I didn’t have a humidor, the cigars were a bit dry but it was the thought that counted.
Manas Update: Initially the events occurring in Kyrgyzstan caused my team to delay their departure from the camp. But now the flights have resumed and next week we will all leave the FOB on the same day and start our journey home.
MILbloggie Award for Air Force category: I am truly humbled and surprised to win this award. I am grateful to everyone who voted for me and especially moved by the energetic support of my wife Liisa. I really didn’t think I had a chance to make it past the nomination round and then to make it in the finals was a big surprise. It was a truly unique anniversary gift from my wife (she was the first to nominate me and to vote for me) that will be always be memorable.
The competition was really tight between my blog and “30 Days Through Afghanistan,” the blog published by two seasoned journalists from the ISAF Public Affairs Office, TSgt Nathan Gallahan and TSgt Ken Raimondi. The government firewall prevents personnel from viewing my blog, but theirs was accessible on government computers. It didn’t help matters that on the last day of the competition, the private internet was down all day long at my camp and the system was so slow at MWR, my teammates and others could not cast a vote because the Internet kept timing out.
I’m still amazed how many people still tune in to read about my ramblings and my everyday life. I know my family appreciated it and it saved me numerous hours of typing repetitive emails to them. But it also provided me an opportunity to show the public what else happens in a combat zone besides combat. I have a few more days left before starting my journey home. If everything goes as planned, I am going to interview some former Mujahedeen fighters and try to provide some historical insight. Thanks again for everyone’s support and votes. And my most sincere congratulations to all the other winners as well .
A Soldier’s Perspective
Naval Institute Blog
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Coast Guard
An Unoffical Coast Guard Blog
U.S. Military Veteran
Blackfive – The Paratrooper of Love
Foreign National Military
U.S. Military Spouse
A Little Pink in a World of Camo
U.S. Military Parent
You Betcha I’m a Proud Army Mom
U.S. Military Supporter
Not Your Average Brooklynette
The Unknown Soldiers
And a great big thank you to USAA and General Electric for sponsoring the Milblog Conference in Washington where the awards are handed out on Saturday.
Filed under: Mentoring ANA, Missions, School supplies project | Tagged: Afghan National Army, ANA, COIN, Deployment, education, ETT, humanitarian mission, war | 4 Comments »