Monday, December 31, 2012

Month 4 Day 31

Notebook Entry
No reports to the Afghan national army, tried to find Samir, couldn’t, hospital afternoon.

Journal Entry
At the weekly staff meeting on Thursday morning Samir didn’t report the weather despite me giving him all of the material, helping him make the slide, etc. He was too lazy to put it on a thumb drive and take it to the battle captain. I did get my first Afghan put on a watch list, that is nice.

[redaction for identification] the day was basically a wash. I tried to find Samir in the morning but I could not. In the afternoon the guys wanted to play football. I had no intention of getting hurt, so I went to the hospital and made balloons and colored for the kids. Most of the kids were burn victims, the poor things. Some of these burns, unfortunately, were intentional. Fuck this culture, there is a reason they are still in the stone age.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Month 4 Day 30

Notebook Entry
12 Reports to the Afghan National Army, Samir didn’t report the weather, one watch list addition.

Journal Entry

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Month 4 Day 29

Notebook Entry
Seven reports to Samir, spoke to Samir about weather effects, made weather PowerPoint and picked up antenna, Cold weather gear arrival.

Journal Entry
Yesterday I worked with Samir on the weather all day. I think I saw smoke coming out of his ears by the end. I helped him learn how to use excel and PPT. I had to work with him in Excel so that we could convert imperial to Metric and have the machine do the calculations. What they call Algebra over here is not what we would think of as Algebra. Both he and Najib, who is still hanging around the S2 shop claimed that they knew algebra, but they could not figure out basic conversion formulas. You just can’t assume any knowledge here.

I got kicked out of my chair last night just like Capt Nowak did. The other guys just smiled knowing what an ass Major Hesco made of himself.

Edited to Add:
The chair that I am talking about was just a simple office chair.  We had some crummy Chinese folding chairs, and a few chairs with nicer padding on them.  They would randomly be shifted around during the day before a meeting.  Most of us would just sit at the spot at the table where we always sat, but. If a lower-ranked officer sat on a nice chair, and Major Hesco had to sit on a folding chair, then Major Hesco would kick him out and take the chair for himself.  That's servant leadership...:)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Month 4 Day 28

Notebook Entry
Eight reports to Afghan national Army, one report from the Afghan national Army, BATS [Biometric Automated Tool Set], Joint Tactical Operations Center Binder, Afghan National Army [ANA] Assault Support Request, and Communications Individual Subscriber Directory.

Journal Entry
I BATed all day. It was a bit of a skull-drag in the afternoon. The Brigade afghans are a bunch of princesses, they claim that they are always too busy to do anything, but when you go see them they are always mysteriously unoccupied. I was told by the S-1 [administration] officer that it was not the job of the administration section to keep track of personnel. I am like, you are the fucking personnel officer, if your job is not to keep track of people, what the fuck is your job?

I wrote up my monthly report on the status of intel yesterday. I came into the CoC tent, and the Major Valquist was like ‘you need to tone this down a little bit.’ Meaning, he felt like my report was too scathing. How can it be too scathing when I am at 13% manning, I just have one S2 guy who actually works, and he just wants to be James Bond? That coupled with the outright kleptocratic behavior of the Afghan Intel officers and you have a recipe for disaster. I was told that I am ‘too young to be that cynical.’ My progress with Samir on the Mission Essential Task list (a group of standards that I don’t even agree with) was minimal, yet I was told, ‘there is too much red on here’ (referring to the green-yellow-red color code I applied to each level of progress). This was not the response last month. Last month they laughed and said, yah that’s about right, but post the General Paul Watson ‘the advisors are failing’ meeting in LNK [Marine higher headquarters], I think I know what the game is. Just lie about the ANA’s progress so we can look good. That is fucking bullshit. I am not going to lie about their progress, that is not going to help any of the higher-ups make good decisions. I am not here to advance anyone’s fucking career, or make some commander feel like he ‘made a difference.’ If he wants to really make a difference maybe General Paul Watson should actually spend time with the ANA rather than calling the mentor team frantically a few days before Christmas and urgently asking what the S-4 [Logistics] mentor what General Malouk’s boot size is (incidentally that is basically a stupid question that reveals how America-centric he is, in a country where everyone runs around barefoot and in sandals, their feet are so wide that almost no boots will fit, that coupled with the fact that culturally they have to take them off every time they go into a building and boots are a pretty retarded thing to give, maybe you’d know that if you bothered to spend some time with the ANA…) I am a here to train the ANA If you want me to do something else, then fine, I will do whatever task I am told to do, but don’t tell me to lie.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Month 4 Day 27

Notebook Entry
25 reports given, Taught PowerPoint, Samir too busy to work on weather. Instructor course commences.

Journal Entry
I worked with Samir in the morning on making a PowerPoint presentation for the General. The General specifically requested that a shura-rollup be presented to him on PowerPoint. Samir was lost, he basically wanted to type a letter and put it on the wall. The simple is hard…he was ‘too busy’ in the afternoon to work on the weather stuff that I had for him. I had a conversation with Capt Arthur. On the 26th he and Maj Valquist went up to LNK to hear General Paul Watson (the MEF Fwd Commander speak). He brought all of the advisor teams in the AO [Area of Operations] together and said that they had all failed and that in his whole 500 year Marine Corps (the man looks like Methuselah) career he had never failed. This is after I spoke to the Corps AT a week ago and they were saying that they almost never saw General Paul Watson, and apparently whenever General Malouk does not get the answer that he wants from his advisor team he just goes to General Paul Watson and gets it. They do the same bullshit up there as Col Schmitt does down here. They want to feel like big candy-men, or they think that giving the ANA a bunch of shit will actually help us leave. They are the problem, and they have not bothered to ask what needs to be done to fix it (change the incentives and measure AT success by what we are able to get the ANA to do, not what we can do for them), nor do the careerists have the balls to tell them that. Maj Valquist would never stand up to Col Schmitt and say ‘sir, you are wrong.’ Am I any different. I have mentioned the TV and how it has not gone unnoticed, I was told it was a loan.

Edited to Add:
The TV I mention here was a 52 inch flat screen that was meant for the Afghans (a stupid decision in itself) but found its way into one of our tents and was connected to a DVD player.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Month 4 Day 26

Notebook Entry
Taught Samir 2/2/215 and 3/1/215 [Afghan Battalion unit designators] map reading, VTC [video teleconference] in afternoon.

Journal Entry
Taught Samir and all but the 1st Kandak S2s maps in the morning. It was a bit painful, but a bit fun. A lot gets lost in translation, I think. I had to make little mounds of rocks and sand so they could see what I was talking about rather than just hear about it. I had them drawing little pictures, by the end I think they grasped about 30% of what I was talking about. They don’t deal with advanced Mathematics like we do and they are not used to thinking conceptually about issues. In the afternoon we did a VTC. Major Valquist, the smooth leader, was not around so Major Hesco, aka 0-60 took the meeting. He loves to feel like he is in charge so he gives random taskers to everyone around and can’t help but put in his two cents at every occasion. Maybe I am being too harsh, maybe he is just trying to lead in an environment that is hostile to his leadership. It is like he doesn’t know what to do with himself, and maybe that is the answer.

Want to see our own 'officer's eat last'? I went to the big command post for the Marine Regiment and took this photo.  The central toilet is marked 'VIP only'-what kind of example does that set for the Afghans...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Month 4 Day 25

Notebook entry
Zero reports, Shura talked about Human Intelligence

Journal Entry
[redaction for identification]

Final day of the shura. Samir explained how to fill out the HUMINT funding forms and I explained exactly how much they are meant to get from MoD. There is obviously a large discrepancy between what they are meant to get from MoD and what they actually get. I explained to them that I did not believe that they would ever get the money that they deserve. This based on the fact that MoD can’t even buy firewood because all of the money is pilfered all of the way down the chain of command. I told them they should pursue two tracks simultaneously. First, they should try to get the system to work. I told them each how much they rate, and when they should expect it. They should try to shake it loose as soon as it comes in. Second, I told them that they didn’t need cash to do intelligence. Good patrol debriefing is more than enough if they know how to do it. They said that they would be honest men, I suggested that if they were, that someone would probably make up something about them, or tell the truth about them and get them put in jail or transferred until they got someone in the post who would pay the tax. You can’t be an honest man without a gun in a kleptocracy. The system will kill you, literally or figuratively. They were looking at me by the end and asking me why their country is so fucked up. I didn’t delve into the problem being where their loyalties lie.

[redaction for identification]

Befuddled by 'who, what, when, where, and why?'

Samir, trying to explain how to answer the 5 w's

All the intelligence of the brigade

Monday, December 24, 2012

Month 4 Day 24

Notebook entry
21 Marine reports, worked on reports, talked about Human intelligence, radio operators complain and don’t take reports

Journal Entry
The shura continued. Samir confirmed that corruption amongst the ANA was a major impediment to getting cash for human intelligence sources. He fingered basically all of the high-ranking Afghans at the brigade. He did not want to reform the policy because the losers, his superiors would get him in trouble. The corruption here is so entrenched that it is hard to believe. That said. One of the TVs that was meant to be for the ANA has found its way into our MWR/Conference tent. If we think this went unnoticed by the ANA we are wrong. They not only noticed, but they probably believe that this is just another confirmation that it is ok to take stuff that isn’t yours. Their and our sense of entitlement know no bound. We served a [redaction for identification] meal to the soldiers, we ran out of food for the officers, and they were a little bit butt-hurt, but who really cares, I don’t. They treat their soldiers like shit. That said, we had 0-60 [Major Hesco, referred to as 0-60 because he would go from mentally stable to screaming mad in a second or two] complain about not getting a nice rolly-chair at the meeting the other night. He kicked out Capt Nowak and took the chair for himself. He also had me chase around to find someone for about 30 minutes because he lost a bunch of files stored on his desktop, not the share-drive when his computer went down. Not like I had anything to do. We are no different than them. We are just more smug and the level of self-entitlement and corruption is not as bad.
Getting ready to serve the meal

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Month 4 Day 23

Notebook entry
32 Legacy reports, Shura, 2/2/215 arrives, 1st and 5th kandak not here, Samir unprepared for afternoon, RMAsia container arrives. Three discharged Med. Communication conducts radio maintenance.

Journal entry
First day of the Shura, two of the kandaks didn’t bother to show up. Samir was grossly unprepared for the afternoon. We had to sit down and type his stuff for him.

The Shura itself was reasonably productive I got them to agree to answer who, what, when, where, why and how. I also got them to agree to cite one of the PIR numbers in their reports.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Month 4 Day 22

Notebook entry
Flight back to Dwyer. Worked on report, spoke to General about Najib.

Journal Entry
Came back from LNK. The flight went fine. Came back to a huge bunch of boxes from the American Embassy to Japan and from Debbie. Debbie sent a bunch of coloring books and crayons. I plan to make my biggest impact of the war in the camp aid station coloring with the kids. At least I have a hope with them. The Embassy sent a metric crap-ton of good stuff for the group, DVDs watches, more coloring books. They sent along a bunch of cards too. They all said that they had read Obama’s wars, I was like ‘ok, and…’ I guess they feel like they are really in the shit in Tokyo. I worked with Samir and tried to get the General to reassign Najibullah to the Section. The General made a good point he said: ‘Samir, you are the only guy in this place who is pushing his NCOs away’ every other section is fighting to get them. I had to agree with the General. Samir has no idea how to lead his section, or how to lead anyone. He feels like he is entitled to it because he is an officer. In a sense he is, but when he can’t enforce it, then he isn’t entitled to shit. Anyway, upcoming curriculum will include leadership classes in conjunction with intelligence.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Month 4 Day 21

Notebook entry
Spoke with the british, gave compact disk to David Guttenfelder to Leatherneck, 1200 graduation, worked on report formats.

Literally hundreds of brand-new Afghan Vehicles purchased by the US, sat uselessly in this lot.

Grad ceremony, Samir, staring at the camera.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Month 4 Day 20

Notebook entry
All late for course, no interpreter to work with Samir, saw monkey, dinner with the British

Journal Entry
Second day of classes for the ANA, they were late again, shock. I
couldn't work with Samir after the day was done because there was not
a duty linguist hanging out in the CoC. That was annoying. I managed
to get enough out with my busted Dari to let him know what we are
going to work on today. I also tracked down a bunch of ID cards and
Kabul bank cards that the Bde Liaison officer took from the ANA for no
explicable reason. I did enough chasing around with Samir that I got
to stop to see the monkeys at RMAsia, they are quite a cute little
novelty, I got some pictures. It is one of those surreal experiences.
In the evening I ate at the British chow hall again. That was
awesome, chicken with peanut Satay sauce, cheese and crackers. Life
is good. Watched Dante's inferno last night. It took some poetic
license with the epic poem (ba dum ching), but overall it was a fine

Samir, with the tucked-in sweater.

Who brings a monkey to a combat zone?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Month 4 Day 19

Notebook Entry
First day of course, all late, worked for one hour with Samir on Shura stuff

Journal Entry
It took the ANA 30 extra minutes to muster everyone for the class that
they needed to go to, shock. The class itself started a little rough,
but I think that it worked out OK in the end. The Army Cpt who they
have teaching it started blathering on about commercial satellite
imagery and how to get it. I am like, these guys have no idea what
you are talking about right now. The ANA worked a very long day for
them, 0900-1130 and 1300-1530 they were all complaining about being
tired at the end of it. I worked with Samir on HUMINT source money
distribution policy after the class. I got a whole extra hour out of
him. He was pretty receptive. When we were done he wanted me to walk
with him, and hang out. I don't know if he is just lonely, or what,
but I think he has started to like me, or at least understands what I
can bring to the table if he works with me. Maybe there is hope for
him. I watched another movie last night, just because I could, 'Wild
Things.' It had more plot twists than macro may, I don' think they
fully closed all of the loops though. Spoke a lot with Lt David Guttenfelder, he
is a good dude, we are on similar tracks, he wants to go out, go to
business school and do something else.

Apparently, this is what happens on big bases, celebrities come to visit you. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Month 4 Day 18

Notebook Entry
Left for Shorabak, class with David Guttenfelder on basic intelligence.

Journal Entry
I flew up to Leatherneck. Samir, predictably, did not have the guys
ready to go when I needed them, but he did get them ready pretty soon
afterward. At the Aircraft Arrival/Departure Control Group (in
civilian speak known as an Airport) Samir was selected to be searched,
they do a check on a certain number of the ANA and he couldn't figure
out why he was picked. It was nothing big, a pat down, a wand and a
brief look through your stuff. Samir was pissed, said 'I am not a
thief' and wanted to go back, I called and told the General he was
returning, Samir showed backup, apparently with no prompting. The
AADCG told me that because he left they would have to search him since he was being so petulant about the whole thing
I said ok everybody up, lets everyone get searched again, to include
me. That seemed to satisfy him. The ANA XO came out and said that
officers shoudln't be searched...whatever, being an officer basically
just means they have more priviledges, these guys have no idea what it
means to be an officer. That is evidenced by Samir constantly telling
me that 'this is not my responsibility.' I am like, you can't give up
responsibility, it is yours regardless. Anyway. We made it up to
LNK. The facilities here on the ANA side are better than those on the
Marine side, it looks like camp Lejeune. They even have
monkeys--really monkeys. The British camp, Camp Tombstone, is where
most of the advisors live, this place is great, gym, MWR, shower, chow
hall, but nice and small, not sprawling and crowded. I got my own room
with a bunk bend and a power outlet. I laid down and watched my 3rd
movie of the deployment. It was fantastic. No one asking me 'deuce
what are you watching?, deuce what are you doing.' what the fuck does
it look like I am doing? Cleaning my rifle and watching a movie, leave
me the fuck alone. Anyway. walking around up here you start to think
that the ANA might actually be able to pull this shit off. The ANA
CoC is nicer than the RCT CoC the 3rd Bde CoC is functional, they have
been a standing Bde for a couple of years. Maybe I am just impatient,
maybe this can work? But I sat in on one of Lt David Guttenfelder's classes with
the Corps G2 and I started to think might be a little optimistic.
'What is the difference between information and intelligence?' is how
it started. A good question to be sure, but one that could be
answered by a TBS Lt [the first school Marine Officers attend], not an intel professional. We'll see...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Month 4 DAy 16

Notebook Entry
12 Marine reports, Sgt Robert Burns and LCpl Schneider come for class, spoke about scanners

Journal Entry
Tenth of Ashura another excuse for them to not work: they are supposed to avoid TV, fast, if they are Shia, self-flaggelate. My guys just refused to work, watched TV, to show their devotion some went to the mosque before getting blazed out of their minds or getting drunk, no self flagellation. Devout muslims my ass, these guys are Muslims just like 90% of Americans [at] Christians.

Spoke with the engineer officer about scanners, and explained how they could not be used as IED detectors, but should reside with the intel section. I don’t know how much got through. I tried to break down the process of direction-finding and enemy’s radio signal as simply as possible, I drew pictures, diagrams, etc. At the end he was unmoved and thought that because the crap was in his Quad-con that it belonged to the engineer. The guys from the RCT came over and tried to teach a class about the intel journal. I am glad that I did that vs have them teach it at the shura. Sgt Robert Burns came out and said ‘man we need to spend a lot more time over here so that we can figure out what they need.’ Yep you do, you can’t command from far away without having a clue.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Month 4 Day 15

Notebook entry
10 legacy reports given. Two reports from the ANA. Clarified forms Bs, got three new form types. Taught Samir map. Intelligence Shura date. Communications operations-Checked gear.

Journal Entry
I gave Samir a bunch of reports this morning, he did the same for me. He was pissed that the dates on some of them were wrong. I told him that others were still learning, just like he was. They expect everything from the Americans to be perfect. I got three new form types from him, taught him some mapping stuff and shifted the Intel Shura date to the left by a little bit. Major Kraus wanted to add a class taught by Sgt Robert Burns about an intel journal, I’m like how about that ANA-led this that we are trying to do. Que Sara.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Month 4 Day 14

Notebook entry,
Spoke to rafi regarding the fight with Samir. Communications gets Preventative Maintanance list from the Afghan National Arm, Administrative Shura.

Journal entry
Forced Samir to practice and deliver an IPB [Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace] to the General. The General is a straight-up asshole. He sat there while the guy was giving the presentation and belched, yawed, scratched himself. Interrupted, told Samir to speed up. In fairness Samir did not do a great job, but the general didn’t help. I probably don’t give Marine Commanders enough credit for just being nice guys and not lording their rank over everyone. To be sure, though ‘officers eat last’ that is just about all that we do last, we get first dibs on nearly everything else. Though it is not as blatant as the Afghans, we are probably not much better.

I BATed almost all day. Samir came in and complained that his heating was not working. In truth, the heating in the office was not working. He had moved in there because he had a fight with Rafi, his NCO. His leadership ability is so poor that he chose to move out rather than work. The office doesn’t have any heat because the Afghans have erected plywood walls throughout the building to make themselves little offices. This prevents air circulation.

The BATing thing was a bit annoying because Capt Nowak said he would come watch, so that next week when I am gone he will know what to do, but he basically thought it was too hard and didn’t show up. That is really annoying because he said that he would do it in the meeting, and then just didn’t do it. I finally got him to come out at the end of the day, but I can foresee right now that next week is going to be a catastrophe because he was too busy throwing around a football to come over and actually work. IT is like everyone around here works, but they only work on the things that they want to work on. Sometimes things need to be done even when they suck. It seems like I am the only one who actually does the shitty jobs

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Month 4 Day 13

Notebook entry
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace practice, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace presentation, Names for Shorabak, Priority Intelligence Requirements, S-6 radio Preventative maintainance, Kabul Bank Teller.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Month 4 Day 12

Notebook Entry

Convoy back, date for intel shura, some names for Talonview training, shura agenda, Intelligence preparation of the battlespace tomorrow. Get all classes and later posted, Marine Expeditionary Force considered turning off fuel, 10 soldiers HMMWV course

Journal Entry
combined patrol back, equally heinous, the ANA have trouble understanding that they need to stay in the path of the mine roller. It was a productive day with Samir. I got a date for the intel shura—[redacted for identification]. Sweet, I love being in a muslim country. Got some names for Talonview, worked on the Shura agenda and Samir agreed to practice the IPB in the morning and give it to the general in the afternoon. I posted all of the classes tht I worked on and had translated only to have the guys at Division say, oh yah we have a bunch of intel doctrine and classes from MoD on a CD—don’t you think I might want that, you fucking retards. In a stroke of true idiocy MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] wanted to stop giving all of the ANA in Helmand province fuel. They are disconnected from reality. The entire ANA would shut down, and probably freeze to death. The brilliance of those on the top. The regiment to its credit, did not comply with the order.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Month 4 Day 11

Notebook Entry
First combined patrol with the Afghan National Army vehicles, spoke to Legacy, spoke to Garmsir G-2

Journal Entry:
We did our 1st combined patrol with the ANA, they are horrible at driving. I thought they were going to hit each other. In Garmsir I spoke to the S-2 Mentor, the legacy terp, the Legacy ANA, went to bed at 1800, it was delicious.

We called this guy 'Rocket Man' after the Elton John song, and because he had a whole backpack full of RPGs that we were certain were going to blow. Note the damage to the warhead on the one in his hand...I wouldn't trust it...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Month 4 Day 17

Notebook Entry
8 Marine reports, spoke with the Executive Officer regarding source funding, Priority Intelligence Requirements signed.

Journal Entry
Jumma: another day to not work

I woke up the XO and spoke about source funding. He said that basically all of the Forms that the S-2 produced were false. When I mentioned that the system itself had all kinds of perverse incentives, he said well the system isn’t that bad…I wonder if he is getting some of the cash. This place is fucked. After half-a-day of skull-dragging Samir he got the PIRs signed by the general. Only one month late! Yippee.

These people are not malnourished, impoverished, and out of work because there is no work. They refuse to work and thus they are malnourished, impoverished and living in the stone age. They are just fucking lazy, and they are fucked when we leave. This culture is fucked and we can’t change it. We need to performance/production not give these guys a salary regardless of their ineptitude/laziness.

Month 4 Day 9

Notebook Entry
Sergeant Major Rafi Returns, Taught map, got Form Bs, delivered roster, found out personnel policy.

Journal entry.
On the ninth Samir came back in all his mmm, glory. I told him tongue-in-cheek of course that I would kill him if he didn’t work hard enough. I also told him that he had no idea how to do his job, he didn’t like that and stormed out. I have tried the kind and gentle approach before. I got walked all over, so now I got with the soul-crushing approach. I will make him work if it kills me.

Yesterday was Jummah, so there was no work done by the ANA, I inventoried all of our classified Hard drives, finished up and mailed off the refinancing stuff for our loan and slept in until 0630, I probably could have kept on sleeping, and I probably will next week. I was just dead to the world.

Capt Brawney got this as a gift from his mentee, the English description is great.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Month 4 Day 8

Notebook entry
Samir returns, roster, 59 grads from course, two Captains selected.

Journal Entry
Dragging ass yesterday. I did BATing [Biometric Automated Toolset] in the morning, tightened up the roster a little bit. I have a little more work to do on it today. Here is the major bone from yesterday. The Major decided to tell the General that he couldn’t send his officers on leave via coalition aircraft because the leave policy that the ANA want is crazy (they basically want leave every 40 days for about two months). The major then links an issue with no causal connection to this. He tells me that I have to cough up a roster of the contractors on Camp Garmsir. The ANA basically wants to hit these guys up for money and the contractors have been unwilling to give their personal information to the ANA. I have been working on this roster for some time with the Garrison Support Unit (eg MCB Camp Pendleton), they already had all of the information. My response was, the ANA already have this info, we want the GSU and Brigade to work more closely together, make the Brigade get it from the GSU if they want it so bad. The brigade has no interest in it outside of the extortion of contractors. They tried to produce a document that said they needed it, but when translated, it did not say they required this information. So I am told by Capt Nowak to give this to the Bde, I basically tell him I’m not going to do it unless the Major tells me to because this makes no sense. I ask the Major, and what happens…He tells me to give it to the Bde. We set a stupid precedent and undermined ourselves, the contractors will trust us less, the brigade will get involved with base operations, the Bde and GSU will not talk, the GSU will be less likely to work with me if they know I have to give the information to the Bde, we enhanced the ability of the ANA to participate in corruption, we gave in to the Bde temper tantrums and lies and we provided them with something that they already had because it was simply easier to ask the Marines than it was to ask their own subordinates (who for a change were actually safeguarding the information appropriately). This is retarded.

Worked on the roster again. The Major found out the tough love can work with the ANA. He said that no officers were going on leave via coalition aircraft. The officers pushed their way onto the bus, Maj Hesco simply walked all of the enlisted guys to the aircraft, some of the officers followed and he explained that they were not getting on the aircraft. The soldiers were elated that finally the Marines were sticking up for their interest. The general caved and said that the officers and soldiers would have the same amount of leave time, 45 days per year, three times per year, still over MoD policy of 30, but better than nothing. Maybe the Major will start tough-loving the general even more. I don’t know if he is worried that the Colonel will cave if the General asks him for something. There seems to be this stupid impression that you need to give the ANA stuff to make them work. We already pay for and give them everything they have, all these personal servitude items are thinly veiled corruption.

Dirty Dog Samir showed back up. I am about to work him to death. I also found out that there is already one capable, literate Sgt assigned to S-2, but the XO decided that he would be his aid-de-camp. Does such a billet exist, hell no, but he took him anyway and didn’t even cough him up when there was no one reporting for duty in the S-2 section.

The Capt Nowak and Capt Brawny were both selected for Major.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Month 4 Day 7

Notebook entry
Major stops officer flights, gave Colonel Kareem roster, classes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Month 4 Day 6

Notebook entry
S-2 Assigned-unassigned. Meeting with Captain Nowak. Taliban treat.

Journal Entry
Yesterday I met with Capt Nowak and his mentee, Col Kareem. They have a really messed up relationship mostly because Capt Nowak treats him like a Colonel, not like a half-witted ANA soldier. That is, if Kareem asks Capt Nowak to bring him something, then he does, even if Kareem is just being a little bitch. Kareem tried to assign a new guy to the S-2 yesterday while we were in there. I spoke to the guy a little bit later and he simply didn’t want to be in S-2. I wasn’t going to fuck with yet another guy who doesn’t want to be in S-2, so I told him OK, we will not have him reassigned.

I also gave a final look at the Mission Essential Task list. It is pretty stupid. We got these half-baked goals from Division that don’t align with reality, and then we were asked to make subtasks. No one really bothered to ask the obvious question: are these even the right goals. They are right in the sense that they came down from Division, but if we complete them will the Afghans be ready? Sadly, no. But this is how we train back in the states, so this is how we must train Afghans here…

Edited to Add:
It is funny what things end up being important.  These goals of the Mission Essential Task list would later be something that we obsessed about weekly, but again, we didn't ask the obvious question were these the correct goals.  They were merely a cut-and-paste of what was expected of an American regiment.  Because this was what I was supposed to teach the Afghans, this is what I taught them, but I don't think it got them much closer to independence.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Month 4 Day 5

Notebook Entry
Well hit good water, inventory of RMAsia

Journal Entry
Sat 5 hours of watch. Did a little more research on some Ivy League Schools. Location is great, but I am worried about the name recognition. I went around and introduced Lt Gerry Bellett to all of the contractors on Camp Garmsir. He did it, but he was like, man this is a lot of work, I don’t know if I have time for this and I was like. After assuring him that it would not take much time, I was just like time for this, really, you think I have time for this? The Base Defense guys are just as bad, they are like yah we (meaning you) need to get this done and that done, I am like, ‘if it is so important, then cough up some manpower.’ John Soltz got a Christmas tree in the Mail and Capt Arthur got some lights. Our tent is looking positively festive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Month 4 Day 4

Notebook Entry
SSgt Kelly Cobiella picks up Hard Drive for Nawa, Letter of Appreciation for Cpl Chuck Conder.

Journal Entry

The guys from Nawa came in today. I was able to give them the hard drive I made for them of the map data. I was also able to finish up a letter of appreciation for Cpl Chuck Conder , for all of the work that he did over here on the roster. CISE came over and talked about doing additional work with the contractors to make sure that they are not fleeced by our ANA.

I still need to sit down and bang out those 5 goals.

Major Hesco was up until the wee hours of the morning (I think he woke up at midnight and went to be[d] at 0430) so that he could watch the Auburn football game. I was like, really? You have that little to do, and yet you keep giving me collateral duties. Wow.

Edited to Add:
I would later find that the hard drive that was supposed to be given to the Afghans in Nawa had been converted to a movie drive, awesome.  As for the Letter of Appreciation.  I though that it was important to recognize a Marine from another unit who came out to help with the boring work that we were doing, this is probably the only letter this Marine would see on his entire deployment.

Month 4 Day 3

Notebook Entry
Communication inventory, mission essential task list translated, badging policy translated, financial management.

Edited to Add:
The financial management class is one component of my time that I was proud of.  Marines make a lot of tax-free money while they are overseas and they have no place to spend it.  I tried to get all of our junior Marines to start thinking about their goals for saving before they left and tried to get them to think hard about what they wanted to do with their money.  While there were some who still said 'Sir, I'm gonna buy a truck,' some said 'sir, I would really love to hear more about buying a house.'

Our little meeting/general purpose tent decorated for Christmas.