Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Month 11 Day 31

Notebook Entry
10 reports given see above, meeting with Colonels, combined combat operations center picture. Class from Colonel

Journal entry
I printed off four copies of these reports.
1. the personnel and equipment stats
2. the pictures and basic bio on Samir and Razaq
3. the PIRs
4. the HUMINT source funding information

I got all four of the colonels to come over to our tents so we could
speak frankly.

I told them
"Intel is broken in this brigade, the guys we do have think that they
are human photocopy machines.  They have created a PIR list but the
General, being a Muj, doesn't understand how to use it or what it is
for" I gave them a rundown on the manning issues that we had in the
brigade they were shocked, Col Omar had not told them that they were
missing so many guys at this level.  Probably because Col omar didn't
know, he told them that we had no one reporting for duty in second
kandak when we have an S2 and a sgt there. they asked me what I had
given to the section I told them "I require them to just try to use
their own supply system, I realize that the supply system is broken,
but I am not going to consider giving them anything until they at
least try to order their own equipment." they gave me the north-south
on that one.  I found out that Razaq had not been demoted as I was
told he has been promoted to LtCol and he was working for the deputy
counterintel officer at MoD.  Awesome, rewarding failure.  I gave them
a rundown on how long he was gone how he had been implicated in
stealing.  I then gave them a rundown on the HUMINT source funding.  I
told them about the 143,000 that was missing, about the second funds
disbursement while Razaq was on leave, I told them how buddy-buddy the
Corps G2 and Razaq were.  I told them that my guys didn't get anywhere
near the amount of money that they signed for.  I then told them that
I knew that every level of command from MoD on down steals the HUMINT
money and everyone points the finger at everyone else so the system
doesn't work.  I got a bunch of wry smiles.  Then I said "I am intel
too you know" that got some laughs. I told them that my only hope was
that the next generation would come in, the Sgts I have been working
with, take over for the officers and maybe they can change the system.

I took them to a class with the Sgts, the sgts showed them some of the
things that they have learned.  They did pretty well.  It was good for
them to see that the Sgts didn't know the Cardinal directions, could
barely remember the areas in thier own AO, and didn't know any of the
friendly or enemy symbology.  It will keep them grounded about what
they can expect. The Cols were a bit annoying about the class, they
sat in the back and asked my guys a bunch of questions that they
didn't know after I told them that they had very limited knowledge.
They kind of hurt my guys feelings.

After the class I took them to the combined COC.  The general got to
walk around and explain to them exactly how we were partnered, got to
call his kandaks and look very important, that made him very happy.  I
had to explain to the colonels how a Combat Operations Center actually
worked, how we used the video feeds from our Unmanned Aireal Vehicles.
 They had never seen anything like it before.  On the way back I had a
conversation with Col Basir, a thin man with an ernest face and a
salt-and-pepper beard. He started
"I look at all this and I don't think we are going to be able to do
this after you leave.  I think the Taliban will come back" he said.
"You might be right, I give the South about two years after we leave
and Kabul about five years, but I hope for your sake that I am wrong"
I told him.
"Why is America so different from Afghanistan?"
"I think its because Afghanistan isn't a country, its just the place
where all of the other countries stopped. People care about themselve,
their brothers, their cousins, clans, tribes, and then way in the back
they might care about Afghanistan."
"You are right, I think the people don't care about Afghanistan."
"You told me all that you know about corruption in the ANA this
morning. Why don't you all do more to stop it? We all know that it
starts from the top, we know that you must see it, why don't you step
in and talk to the mentors in Kabul and get these guys removed."
"I don't have any connection to the mentors in Kabul, I only talk to
the guys at the Corps level. If I had their names I would try to get
in touch with them."   I said truthfully, but knowing that they do not
have the power to hire and fire the bad apples.
"I guess I always assumed that there was so much corruption that you
simply could not remove that much of it." I said.
"Maybe, but there are some good officers out there, but because they
don't have very strong connections or money, they don't go into intel,
they get assigned as the religious and cultural affairs officers."
By this time we reached our camp.
His tone turned dark.
"You know, it is going to cost a lot more money if you leave than if you stay."
I was somewhat taken aback because I didn't have any sway over these
geopolitical issues.
"You might be right I know they said if we had spent 2 billion after
the Russians left that we could have prevented this, but I'm just a
Captain.  I'm trying to do my best, all I can tell you is that I am
writing a book, and I will say in it that there is at least one
officer in Kabul who thinks this might be possible if the Americans
get more involved in defeating corruption"
He nodded his head.
"I will go to Kabul and tell them about the problems at this level, believe me."
I hope he did.

In the afternoon we took a picture at the Regiment of all of the officers.

I came back and this room full of Cols were giving classes to my guys.
 They were not really classes they could use.  They were classes on
counterintel talking a lot about internal threats, they were also
telling them about how they coudl get agents from out in town.  It was
very tactical-level stuff, not the kind of things that Cols shoudl be
concerned about, but with their limited knowledge base they were
showing that they cared in the best way they knew how.  It was
misdirected and it will confuse my guys, but it showed that they
cared, no one would have insulted them if they didn't teach any

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Month 11 Day 30

‘Skipped day’

Journal entry

Started out like a pretty normal Sat.  The meeting was held late in
the morning so that the General could do his pass-in-review.

I went to see the S2 guys and scheduled a class time with them.

I came back and scetched the outline for the manditory Marine Corps
Gazette article that 'we' have to write.  It is entitled "Partnering
to Win" I think the subtitle should be "what the RCT-1 ETT did not do
in Afghanistan.

After that i can an E-mail from Suzan about how our refrigerator went
down hard so I spent a couple of hours searching around to figure out
how to get it repaired/replaced.

After that was done GySgt Exlos came over for a class with the NCOs.
When he came out he said that Najib and Salim were acting like they
were high and he even spoke to them in the meeting about the negative
effects of drugs.  I chewed them out afterward and told them they
needed to show respect in class and not balance bottles on their

I was a bit annoyed because Munir didn't show up for class, but I
found out that there was a four-man MoD inspection team sent here (no
one bothered to let me know they were coming) he was in charge of
dog-and-ponying them around finding a place for them to sleep, etc.  I
met up with them, it was the counterintel director for all of MoD, Col
Omar, the G2 and 3 other guys from MoD whose billets I can't remember.

I told them that I was going to have a class and they decided they
wanted to come.  they were pretty attentive at first, then the deputy
Zed-estebarat guy said the class was too advanced, one of his
colleagues disagreed and said it was the best class he'd ever seen.
Then one wanted to play stump the Capt, he asked me about the way we
divide terrain. It was a stupid question that showed his ignorance,
but I played along, and showed him that I knew my shit and that he was
a Colonel, wow.  They then grew tired of the class and wanted to go do
some other stuff. That worked out.

Went to chow.

Picked up Maj James Blitz who didn't even bother to give me a call to let me
know he was coming.

The LtCol was playing 'wallyball' with the Afghans so our meeting was
shifted to the right and I didn't get any sleep.  Thanks for

Monday, July 29, 2013

Month 11 Day 29

Notebook entry
14 reports given, communication civilian here, Ramadan pre-meal.

Journal entry
I got to talk to Suzan in the morning, and see her on Skype, that was fun.  I did the inventory of the Biometric Automated Toolset and Marine-Air-Ground Task-Force Secondary Imagery Dessemination System gear (we really need to come up with better nomenclature for stuff).  I wonder if these silly names come because the contractors who sell the stuff are former military guys who know exactly what the uniformed guys want to hear. I imagine the conversation goes like this
'I've got some cameras that your snipers could use to send pictures back to the HQ."
Systems Command military guy "I'm not really interested"

Six months later the contractor returns with a large green Pelican case with exactly the same gear in it
"As you know, the infantryman's eyes are the primary imagery system in the Marine Corps, oooh-rah, as a secondary system to reinforce the Marine-Air Ground Task Force that is so vital to the nation's defense.  I've got some I've got some cameras that your snipers could use to send pictures back to the HQ.  Oh, by the way the Army doesn't have it."
Marine "I'll take 500."
"Nice doing business with you" Now sign on the dotted line they cost a mere $8,000 a piece (actual price).

Brian bitched to me at lunch, rightfully so, I think, about the way the LtCol was dealing with the ANA coming into the chow hall.  Rather than demand that they leave or the AC units will not be installed he has said that the contractors will merely need to work around the ANA who have illegally occupied the building.  Basically, the ANA get exactly what they want, a new mosque, the A/C units, and they learn that they can bully their way into whatever they want no matter who is paying for it.  The LtCol would probably say "It's late"

Anyways, in the afternoon I worked with LtCol Valquist on the AAR and on the Questions for the congressmen. 

I tried to meet up with the S2 to give them the weather, but they weren't around.  I cleaned my rifle, pistol, and did some more job-hunting.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Month 11 Day 28

Notebook entry
13 reports given, general declares Ramadan early, dinar wacky statistics $100,000 house, class with noncommissioned officers, Qais late, combined staff meeting, write Congress?, Class with officers, illegal occupation, ditch poop Russians.

Journal entry
I forgot to say that the day prior to this the General tried to change the date for the start of Ramadan.  Now that is really overstepping your bounds.  No matter how powerful you think you are, you can't change the weather.  I hate this guy.  Also on the day prior Dinar told us and Bash confirmed that a bunch of those mud huts that are climing the hills in Kabul are worth $100,000 a piece.  Talk about the inflation that we have created in this place.

In the morning I tried to have the class with the NCOs at 0900.  Qais did not show up on time.  Munir had to go find him and kick him in the butt.  He claimed that he didn't know even though both of the other guys told him.  I did something new in the class.  I gave them folders with paper and had them take notes.  I took Qais' folder back because he already lost one, but I let Najib keep his.  It was a decent class, but I had to cut it short because the ANA were confused about the meeting time with the RCT. 

At lunch I wrote the questions for the Congressional delegation that is coming here. 

In the afternoon I did a class with the officers, the new GSU CI guy and Munir.  I talked about what the hell intel is, what their job is, and about the intel cycle. 

In the evening meeting we believe that we solved the ditch-poop problem.  We are going to too eight more port-a-johns in more convienient locations so the soldiers don't crap in the ditch.  The XO blamed this on the Russians.  He said the Russians would just shit wherever they wanted.  He didn't explain how 20 year olds remembered what Russians did 25 years ago. 

The Afghans also occupied one of the buildings before it was completed and decided to make it a Mosque.  The forced the contractors to open it for them and installed a speaker system on top.  Now they have basically voided any warranty on the contract.  If anything is wrong with the building, they cannot ask Unity to fix it.  It doesn't even have A/C yet, but they said they didn't care.  Whatever.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Month 11 Day 27

Notebook entry
16 reports given, met with Munir, met with executive officer, class afternoon, CJ Radin here.

Journal entry
In the morning I went to see Munir to make sure that the boys were going to come to class.  He confirmed that they were, but he had to go wake them up first.  Both Salim and Najib were sleeping. 
I talked to Qais about this and their plan now that they had three sergeants was to do exactly the same amount of work, but to always have someone sleeping.  Ummmm, no.
I come back and 1000, the time they asked to have class and they didn't show up.  Najib said
"we have too much work to do for the Corps and we can't come to class"
I said "You don't work for the Corps you work for the Brigade and the brigade commander, and the S2 officer, if he tells you that you've got class at 1000, then that's when you have class, and if you'd woken up on time this wouldn't have happened. "
Munir finally got the point and told them to go, but Najib refused. That was not going to happen, so I went to the XO and explained the situation.  I was also not about to give them the reports that they wanted for the combined briefing the next day if they didn't show up for class.  He agreed to send them to class at 1300 (their normal nap time) because they didn't show up at the right time.

1300 rolls around and I try to meet up with them again, only Salim shows up.  I go back to the XO.  He tries to round all of them up.  Munir and Qais are located. Najib is yet to be found. 
I talk to the XO. 
"I'm out of ideas" I say "I have to play this stupid game every time that new guys show up, or that the leadership leaves. I try to treat them like adults, I try to give them discipline like Marines, but they just don't seem to get it."
"How old is the Marine Corps?" He asks me
"235 years old" I tell him.
"Our military is a year old"
"Do Marines sell their uniforms?"
"Do Marines sell the fuel out of their Rangers?"
"Do Marines sell the break they are given?"
"Are Marines Criminals?"
"Not usually"
"Nearly every soldier in this brigade is a criminal, they came here because they didn't have any other option.  It will take a long time to turn them into the same type of military that you have."

Munir arrives and says "Capt Scott Shane told me I didn't have to go at 1300 I was at the mosque"
I say "sure the class isn't for you, but you need to make sure that your guys are there, you have to supervise, you're an officer"

Najib still cannot be located and Salim is ordered to unlock the container in the corner of the camp, the hot box. 

Najib is finally located he says "I was in the mosque" 
"bullshit, Munir was there and he didn't see you" the XO says.

"Go to class, then afterward he needs to come see me" the XO said.

"Is it always going to be like this rie-saib?" I asked of the XO "are you always going to have to beat the hell out of your soldiers and put them in a hot box to get them to do what you want?"

"They'll be at class tomorrow. I gaurantee it."

"Saist rei-saib, besyar tashakar" (OK, XO, thank you very much)

There is one truth here.  I have more patientience and discipline than any of these Afghans.  You don't need infinite amounts, just more than they do.  I may not get my way right away, but I will outlast all of them.  I'm like the Taliban to America.

Class went fine.  Capt CJ Radin came to work on the slides.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Month 11 Day 26

Notebook entry
29 reports given, Salim back, class with Salima, OKOCA

Journal Entry
“This country has no future” That was the last statement that Dinar
made to me.  He went off for nearly 30 minutes at lunch about the
corruption in this country.  “I make more than the General, I haven’t
been able to pay for an engagement party, but the general has a couple
of houses and a staff.  Where did all of that money come from, when we
went to first kandak that XO of 1st kandak had his ass chewed for
giving the weapons they found in caches to the Marines.  Why does the
General care? I’ll tell you why there is a bazaar in Kabul that deals
in weapons, most of these are supplied by the ANA, the ANP.  The XO
himself told me that every officer in this brigade is involved in
corruption.”  Finally he told me a story the punchline was basically
“It’s time to run, run out of this country.”

This all started because he was bitching about how the General was
acting this Morning.  Yesterday, during the leave flight the Gunny had
told some officers who were late that they were not allowed to get
onto the leave flight.  The General came and said
 “Let these officers on the leave flight.”
The Gunny said “no.”
“I am a General I say let them on this leave flight.”
 “I’ll tell Col Schmitt”
The LtCol came in this morning and the General bitched to high heaven
about how he had been dishonored and his position was besmirched.  The
Col decided this was a ditch he was going to die in and told him
“I’m tired of hearing about your culture, lets talk about the culture
we have in common, military culture.  The Gunny is a disciplined
Marine, he follows the rules, that is his job and that is what he is
supposed to do.”

All of this could have been solved if the ANA had arranged their own
flights, but well they are dependant on us, so they play by our rules.

In the middle of the meeting an ANA Lt came up and asked them about
going to SBK.  He and 13 of his closest friends had been left behind
by Capt Arthur when he went up there because after he told them three
times what time they needed to show up, they fail to show up.  The
General wanted us to miracle an airplane because Corps was leaning
into him. Sorry buddy, doesn’t work like that.

For me it has been an uneventful morning.  I loaded up some of my
FitReps to the Qualcomm website, did a bit more job stuff and
registered with Columbia.  Sgt Salim came over at 1000.  He really
pissed me off, he showed up late, had no materials, required a
pick-up.  It was aggravating, this is not what I expect from Marines.

I also tried to sort out the guy who is trying to double-dip as a
linguist and ANA Lt.

I took the terps to lunch after that and our conversation can be seen above.

I came back and met up with Munir and Salim in the afternoon.  Najib
and Qais were both sleeping at 1500.  This is not the right time for
sleep, and it made me wonder if this is how things were going to be in
the section while Tawoos is gone and they are flush with people. On
the face of it it's good to get Munir back, he's gone to school for
about 5 weeks (though he's been gone for 12), and rather than be
reassigned to the kandaks the General wants to keep him at this level
and make him the S2A. He's been a hard-worker in the past, so that
might not be a bad idea. I caught him and Salim up on what has
happened since they have been gone, talked them through what the Maj's
expectations are, and then I called the Maj to see if he had any
additional guidance he wanted me to pass on.  He wasn't tracking on
Munir coming back and wanted to know my opinion of him.  It seems that
my firm but consistent approach has paid off.  He asks for and values
my opinions.

We'll see.

There is a Funny slide that I inserted into an E-mail if you search for this day, then you will find it. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Month 11 Day 25

Naikpai Hazara comment, schedule class, Qais no-show and fouth Kandak teleconference, sixth Kandak, Capt. Habib back, Bernie leave pistol clothes, linguist/Lieutenant, ditch crap.

Journal entry
One thing I forgot to mention from yesterday.  The other terps were giving Naikpai shit because he was bad-mouthing the general.  They were saying he is your general, he's a Hazara just like you.  I fucking lost it.  I told them that I would crush any of them that made another ethnic comment.  It is the first time I've ever threatened anyone bodily harm on the team, but they shut up. 

In the morning there was some new-to-us gym equipment in the tent at the MWSS, that pretty much made my day. 

I went to see the Major in the morning to discuss the schedule with him and the Sgts, he had already spoken to them about it.  That's nice.  He told the Sgts to show up to class as 1000 and I thought that would be the end of it, but when class time rolled around only Najib showed up.  I had him walk the Sgt from 4th kandak through all of the stuff that he had been learning.  I think that it was nice for him.  He got a chance to see how far he had come, and the other Sergeant was in awe, Najib might as well have been talking about physics.  The end of the class I again went over key terrain in a conventional and COIN fight.

At lunch I worked on some more stuff for Qualcomm, I am pretty pleased with my .pdf ninjary. 

In the afternoon we had the leave flight.  I was checking the roster against my database, but Capt Nowak was out searching.  Bernie tried to keep his pistol with him and said that he had a card which said it was ok.  I told him not to do that, but he didn't listen and Capt Nowak got into it with him.  Ultimately, no pistol went on the flight.  The general's aid also tried to bring like four sets of cammies, when he was told he couldn't take them he went back, put them in the bottom of his bag and came back.  Capt Nowak then proceeded to tear them out and throw them on the ground.  He was pissed that the guy would lie right to his face and further pissed off when they would not pick up their own trash despite his orders.

We had the teleconference in the afternoon.  2nd kandak was here in person in all of his stupidity.  6th kandak was the only kandak to call in.  Gul Rahim apparently refused to show up.  That's not entirely surprising, he's done that before.  On the bright side, Capt Habib is back the longest "school" in the history of Afghan intel. 

We are having more issues with ditch-crapping.  Basically any place where lights aren't shining on them the Afghans will leave their hootch, go to a trench and shit in it.  We used to have the problem by our compound, but now that we have the lights up we haven't seen it in a while.  We think it is just a convenience thing.  They have plenty of Turkish toilets, but it's just closer to shit in a ditch.  The main concern is that we have a couple hundred guys living on the camp, and if they all crap in the ditch especially around the chow hall, then we could have some disease issues.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Month 11 Day 24

Notebook entry
Seven reports given, Red Horse comment, not a good show, communications maintenance, sixth Kandak forklift, staff Sgt. Robert Burns, Qualcomm planning for Ramadan.

Journal entry
SSgt Robert Burns came over to work with the Sgts in the morning.  I spoke with the Major briefly about training, but most of the morning I was working on other stuff. We've had two separate linguist stabbings in our AO.  Dangerous business.

The Air Force guys, Red Horse wrote Maj Davidson and E-mail in the morning which asked if the loud male voice blasting at 0430 every morning was some type of religious thing. If not could the Afghans turn it down because it is really annoying.  We all got a good laugh out of that.  yes red horse you are in a 'Muslim' country, and these 'Muslims' have a call to prayer.  It's been ten years, awesome.

The comm section did the Grand Opening of their Comm Maintenance Facility.  The General came out and told them this was 'not a good show.'  He wanted to see more radios, repair parts, and tools.  Well dick, we ordered those months ago through your supply system, have you put in any effort to make sure those orders are fulfilled like a real General would?  No you think your job is just to show up, bitch and be treated like royalty.

In North Marjeh, the Marines accidentally hit an ANA truck with a fork lift, the ANA demanded that the Marines fix it.  Really, where do you think all of these fucking trucks, this money, and this expertise comes from?  But the week prior, when the ANA hit a Marine skid-loader, you had better believe no help was forthcoming. 

I had enough for one morning, I had to leave, but as I was leaving I saw a Ranger full of Soldiers on the bed of an international truck being towed by another international.  I chased them down, said what the fuck, and told them these trucks roll like its their job.  They are probably going to ignor me because riding on the ground is dusty, oh well.

I worked on my job application for Qualcomm at lunch time. 

In the afternoon I was going to give a class to Tawoos, but I thought it was a better use of our time if we sat down and spelled out all of the responsibilities of everyone in the section.  He said to me that he was going to write to Corps and have them appoint me as the S2 officer until he comes back.  He said he wished he had an officer like me in the ANA.  That's kind of nice to hear after dealing with Samir and Razaq.  It's nice to know that I'm not crazy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Month 11 Day 23

Notebook entry
39 reports given, standard time for noncommissioned officer classes, plan for Ramadan, gunnery sergeant class afternoon, Naikpai not a "good Afghan”, video teleconference afternoon, well running.

Journal entry
Maj Tawoos decided to give the NCOs a standard time for classes without discussing it with me.  This caused some issues because the RCT was not able to adjust.  Anyway.  I got them to agree to do another afternoon class.  I also got the major to sketch out a basic plan for the amount of work I can expect from them during Ramadan. 

I took all of the linguists to lunch, as is my general practice.  Naikpai started talking about corruption in the ANA.  Specifically he said that he believed that the Corps G2 and Maj Abdul Razaq were both guilty in stealing the HUMINT source money.  The other linguists started teasing him in Dari.  They asked him why he was telling these guys (me) about corruption in Afghanistan, it was going to give me a bad impression.  They said that he wasn't a good Afghan, and that maybe Hazaras would never be good Afghans.  It's funny that a good Afghan is one who keeps his mouth shut about corruption.

GySgt Exlos came in the afternoon to teach a class to the Sgts.  I was planning on teaching one to Maj Tawoos, but the Corps changed their time for the VTC, so I didn't get the chance to.  I had to go talk to him about some counterintel issues that can't be discussed on this medium because the Agency loves to overclassify stuff.

I went to chow with Capt Arthur in the evening.  His troubles in the past 48 hours were many.  The ANA were stealing the gravel, sand, and concrete that the contractors were using to make buildings for them (they are the only people in the world who can fuck up someone giving them something).  He said they had destroyed the water distro system.  They had broken into the pump house and let the water run, flooding the facility.  One it was secure and as we were driving by a guy was out there using the water to wash his truck.  Their one working fuel truck has an increadibly unbalanced wheel (they turned the other one into a water truck to water their gardens).  We don't know what Sgt Ali hit, but he is still driving like a Bat out-of hell.  Awesome.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Month 11 Day 22

Notebook entry
“Day Skipped”

Journal entry
It was Jumah on Camp Shorabak. No work was had by anyone.  I caught up on a bit of sleep in the morning and had breakfast with the Danes in the morning.  They are a fun crew.  They are the GSU mentors.  They are facing some of the same problems that we are.  Their guys know how to do the work, they simply refuse to do so.  I learned a new word 'favell'  this is the root of the english word farewell.  Ah the vikings, so many colonies so little time. 

I worked out, caught up on some E-mails.  Worked on my book proposal some more, and then went to lunch.  This time I met up with two guys who worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers.  One was a SgtMaj and one was a not kidding civilian.  The SgtMaj was an old Korean guy who explained to me how to cheat the system, and really double-dip on retirement from the military.  He was saying that no matter how close you are to retirement, you can get out, become a DoD civilian, buy the retirement scheme from them, work for an extra ten years, stay in the reserves, get recalled to active duty, hit sanctuary, force them to give you active duty retirement, go back work as a DoD civilian and retire at 50.  If this whole scheme works out, you will make more money in retirement than you did while you were working at either job alone, and once you hit 65 and start collecting social securiy/TSP/401k you will make about 4 times your original salary.  No wonder there is a federal deficit.  They also told me that in the northern region the USACE is spending 2billion on facilities for the ANA alone, awesome.  The old guy was a little more sanguine about the spending.  He didn't think it was entirely money wasted, he thought some good would come of it, those he suspected they were going to tear down all of the metal buildings and use them for scrap and that we should be building mud-huts for these stone-age people.

In the afternoon. I came back worked on the book proposal some more.  Spent some time figuring out the costs of flying to one airport as opposed to another, bought plane tickets for Thanksgiving (I think I acutally did that in the morning).  Anyway.  Maj Tawoos wanted to meet with the Corps G2 and have me come along.  He wanted me to come for dinner, but with my recent stomach troubles, I was not up to it.  I told him I had a meeting at dinner (I didn't), but after I ate I went to see him.  We found him and met up with Col Omar.  The loud-fast-talking lout was sitting in his room.  Papers were scattered and quasi-stacked in bunches along the far wall.  On the left had side of the room there was a bed, on the right had side there was a desk stacked with bottles and trinkets, clearly not used for work.  on his wardrobe there were pictures of him with General Wardak the Chief of Staff of the army, an equally fat lout.  We sat down and he did what he normally did which is start talking before he started listening, he complained about how hard he worked how he was up until 0200 patrolling the base and making sure that everything is secure.  Totally not his job.  I tried to bring up the one issue that Tawoos had asked me to, the manning issues withing the Bde.  I started to tell him verbally and he said to write it down.  Anyway I also tried to talk to him about the teleconference and the utility of regularly scheduling it.  He was oblivious to that.  He continued to ramble on and not listen.  He said how he was glad that Razaq was gone because he was corrupt.  He said that intel is like a business, to which I responded it was too much like a business, too many people making too much money.  He said he had a bunch of hotels in Kabul that he owned and that he didn't need any money (both Tony and I wondered where he got the money for the hotels from).  Anyway, we left and went to the airport.

There Maj James Blitz imparted some of his eastern wisdom on Tawoos 'it takes many years for a sapling to become a mighty oak.' Tawoos looked at him like he was crazy and asked me if he was a Sgt after we were finished.  We waited for our flight to head home on the benches and talked about the linguists who were worth a shit.  We also talked about a cute electric-blond LCpl who was working in the Airport.  Tawoos said 'if we have her in the ANA werry werrry problem.  There would be fights between the XO and the General about who she would work for and who she would sit next to.'  He wanted to know if we had combined sleeping quarters and I told him that all young horny men separated from women were the same and that would cause problems for the women, so we kept them separate for everyone's safety and comfort.  All men are like Tigers he said. 

We got back and I hit the rack.  Somebody left a Cosmo magazine on my bed and I read a page about Ashley Greene before I went to bed.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Month 11 Day 21

Notebook entry
Eight reports given

Journal entry
Probably the single biggest waste of a day since we got here.  We
arrived at 0300 in the morning, so I slept in until about 0700, went
to the gym, showered grabbed sandwich. I told Tawoos that the Corps
had a meeting in the morning and that we should try to meet up with
them afterward, but he said that he tried to meet with them and they
bounced out to some other planning meeting. The branch plan was to
work on getting the maps for Garmsir at 1100, but Tawoos decided to go
crew around with one of his friends up here, so that didn’t work.
This Thurs is normally a half-day no work was accomplished in the
afternoon either.

I basically spent the day catching up on E-mails, and working on my
book proposal at the end of the day I watched Monty Python and the
quest for the Holy Grail.  That was a hoot.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Month 11 Day 20

Notebook entry
10 reports given “scandalous” report, cleared out in the morning, class with sergeants.

Journal entry
In the morning I went to talk to Maj Tawoos and the guys about meeting
up.  He told his Sergeants that they could expect a class every day in
the morning at 1030.  Of course, he didn’t tell me about this.   The
problem was that we were told that all of the guys from the Regiment
were coming over to work on their slides for the combined ops/intel.
That simply did not happen.  The only gy who came over was LaFranchi.
Even though they did not come over at the appointed time they planned
to come over throughout the day, so I had rescheduled this class with
the NCOs, at great pain to all involved for nothing.  I coordinate to
make sure that the RCT is going to come at 1500, the rescheduled class
time to work with the Afghans.  None of the guys from the regiment
talk to one another so Maj Hesco calls at two to have one of the Jr
Marines come pick him up.  At 1500, Capt CJ Radin doesn’t have a truck, so
he can’t come over.  I cover down on the class with the Sgts.  At 1550
CJ Radin shows up towards the end of my class.  He’s like ‘I’m here to
work on the slides, we’re supposed to have three of them, one for
Sigacts from the past 24 hours, one is weather, and one is the next 24
hours.’  He didn’t have the sigacts, he didn’t have the weather,didn’t
have a CD to burn the stuff onto, didn’t have a computer to build it,
and he didn’t have any of the reporting for the next 24 hours.  This
is fucking pathetic, so I go print off some stuff for him, and give
him a CD so he can ‘partner’ this is well after the time that the Sgts
feel entitled to go play volleyball, so Qais is pissed.  I probably
should not have even done that.  The LtCol wanted them to fall on
their faces, he wanted them to see how hard it actually is to work
with the ANA, and he didn’t want us to baby sit them.  CJ Radin was
clearly lost, so I felt bad and didn’t leave him totally hanging.  He
comes back and tries the CD that burned on the ANA computer and it
doesn’t work, so I give him an external, and he can’t find Qais, he
calls in a panic while I’m in the meeting and I tell him its going to
be nearly impossible to find Qais, and that his best bet is to bring a
thumb drive over early in the morning.

I was going to meet up with Tawoos in the afternoon, after I met up
with the Sgts, but I was so busy babysitting my Marine counterpart,
that I was not able to do that.

Also throughout the day apparently the Logistics apparatus all the way
up to the G-4 was scandalized by an accurate reporting on ANA
logistics.  They acted as though they had never heard of the content
before and wondered if it had been vetted by the ETT.  We all wondered
how our reports could fall on such deaf ears. Apparently the TLF G-2
also decided not to pursue any of the corruption stuff that I have
discovered in the S2 section.

Steve threw John Soltz a birthday party, he got all of the TCNs to come out
and sing Happy Birthday in the Chow hall, it was probably the most out
of tune but enthusiastic version I have ever heard.  They made him a
cake too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Month 11 Day 19

Notebook entry
13 reports given, Carambul game, class to Qais and Najib good, terrain analysis, class with Tawoos afternoon, military a combined obstacle overlay 18 month burn, Elton John Flack under uniform, general paranoid soldiers killed, Corps you're not lying.

Journal entry

My stomach has really been bothering me, and that soured most of my morning.  

I went to see the S2 and talked about the Military Decision making process.  After I spoke with him, I went to the COC.  I found the Afghans in there playing a game that resembles pool very closely called Carambool.  I took a picture.  Capt Nowak was sitting in there just watching, there was a time when he would have been pissed and stormed around, but he's just exhausted and he's given up.   I met up with Qais and Najib in the morning on terrain analysis.  I put them in competition with one another.  I had them race to find the areas on the map, and the first guy who did the correct cardinal directions got a point.  I had them into it, they were fully participating in class.  By the end Qais came up to me and told me 'you are a good teacher and I will make sure I always come to your classes from now on." I was really stoked about this, but I am trying to not get my hopes up. As I walked out of the class Capt Nowak was playing Carambool, stood up and yelled America because he had just won. 

I took the terps to chow, and they we all had fun saying what a pain-in-the-ass my guys were, how they didn't learn properly, and they were altogether too careless.  

In the afternoon the net kept cutting in and out.  I tried to make it work, but I ended up giving up and working mostly on the job and Master's degree stuff.  

I waited to teach a class to Bernie at 1530, but he didn't show.  I found him sitting outside with the General, they were about to drink tea.   The General kindly allowed him to go to class after I told the story of how he killed the most dangerous Talib in the AO a few days prior (he was a 3 in mouse). 

The class went well and Bernie was engaged. we talked about trends in the AO. 

In the evenin meeting a few interesting things came up.  First, elton John, the GSU S3, wears an flak vest under his uniform because he's afraid he'll be shot.  Second the General is using the shooting of Karzai's brother as the fodder to claim he needs a private shower, he's scared for his life.  Whatever. and 18mo old girl 'ran into' a pot of boiling oil and burned her lower extremities.  I hate these people.  the Major reported that the Corps has finally realized that we are not bullshiting them about how fucked up the ANA are, they finally realize admitted that the MoD-14 process is broken and that sending the body of a dead ANA soldier to the wrong house is sub-par performance. Finally one soldier straight up killed another soldier today in Nawa after an arguement, this could be the source of some of the paranoia. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Month 11 Day 18

Notebook entry 13 reports given, Najib and Major in Garmsir, Qais class, Garrison support unit counter intelligence, teleconference one showed up.

Journal entry
Felt a little bad this morning about not going on the convoy.  It is odd, I don't actually like putting my life in danger, but I still have that feeling inside me that wants to go out there and do it because there are other Marines there.  The reason I didn't go on this one was ostensibly because I was not feeling well, but in truth, Capt Nowak wanted to go, and there could not be two lead-vehicle commanders, so he left me off the roster.  Oh well, a day to work on GMAT/jobs/Book.  Especially since the SIPR has been down all morning and the Fiber somehow got cut over by RedHorse, so we are about to go down on everything.  I guess is it God telling me that he doesn't want me to work.

I tried to go track down  Najib and Qais, but Najib had gone to Garmsir with the Major.  This has really got to be pissing Qais off.  I gave a class to Qais and the GSU CI, just a basic IPB review (mostly, because I refuse to advance until Qais gets it) the GSU CI said that it was not basic, and he too was having trouble with the cardinal directions, he is a 2ndLt and we were just going over the places in the AO.  The Marine CI also came to help him out.

I spent a good portion of time after the class looking for jobs, doing a costing of the MBA, and finding out more about the GMAT. 

In the afternoon the RCT came over and we did the teleconference, Qais was 20 min late, only the GSU CI and 1st Kandak showed up (he was also late).  No reports exchanged.  Resounding success.

The guys made it back from Garmsir at about 1530, NSTR. 

I went to dinner last night pretty tired.  For the first time in a long time I had worked almost an entire day on stuff that was challenging.

After the evening meeting, we discovered why our tent stunk and it didn't have anything to do with my upset stomach as we had thought, there was another foot-long rat caught in one of the old-school traps under my bed, I had not noticed him.  I threw him in the tiger-trap (the giant hole that has been excavated for the water tank for the shower that is months overdue), when I did, we saw that there was another one down there, apparently one that Josh had caught the other night had resurrected himself, so we killed him too, I'm quire certain that it is permanent this time, it was the most excitement we've had in a long time. I hate rats.  

I came back and worked on the book proposal and watched a TED about human rights abuse and giving cameras to people around the world so they can film the acts of abusers.  

What happens when you drill a well in the desert?  The local soldiers decide to use HESCO barriers as flower pots. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Month 11 Day 17

Notebook entry
14 reports given, Gen. wants shower, capital HESCO, meet in the morning regarding trips, no lines of operation synchronization, Major B, no Qais, administration.

Journal entry
Met with the Maj again in the morning we talked about the trip to SBK, about some Marines who allegedly flex cuffed some Afghan on post and then called him names and tried to rape him.  All sounds a bit far fetched, but maybe that's what the guy believes, the Marine's side is that the guy was baked out of his mind and they restrained him. 

The LOO sync meeting was cancelled in the morning, I don't know why, but I don't care either. 

I tried to meet with the Sgts at 1400, Najib was one half-hour late, and Qais was a no show.  He was behaving badly because he wants to be transferred, the Major is about to give in.  

I met with the Bde S1 in the afternoon.  The guy was not read in on where anyone was, so it was a pretty useless venture.  

Maj Kraus came to work with the S2 at 1500. 

I got into it with the S2 about going on leave when he had no alpha, had only been here a short time, and hadn't been to all of his kandaks, this is really inhibiting progress, I had such high hopes, but it is clear that leave is priority number one for him. 

The latest thing that the LtCol is giving in to the General on is this shower.  He wants a private shower for himself behind his office, the LtCol wanted to know whether he could put one next to his hooch (these things are worth $230,000), its just obscene.  Capt Arthur talked him down, he's like we can't really do that, but we can make a tank on a stand, the Col seemed to be ok with that idea.  I don't get it. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Month 11 Day 16

See above, met with the major regarding the trip to Shorabak, Garrison support unit administration officer lunch Garrison support unit administration officer, Major here Gunnery Sergeant here, Mirabon transferred

Journal entry
One thing that I forgot to mention on the 15th was that the General has been demanding a privacy fence for his office (a building really), so of course the task falls to the mentors.  Why he wants a fence I'm not really sure, probably to make himself seem more exclusive, I'm not really sure.  I don't know why LtCol Valquist is entertaining this, but he is.  He ordered us to figure out how to make a fence or buy it with FOO money.  The solution ended up being HESCO barriers not filled, but with Engineer stakes driven into the ground.  I guess it seems pretty ridiculous, but when the SecDef came, somebody from mainside put up a sniper screen around the burn pit, so that he wouldn't see all of the trash as he drove by (that said, the height of the burn pit still exceeded that of the fence. 

Anyway, I met with the Maj and we discussed the trip to Shorabak.  I now understand why he is so desperate to go and is giving every excuse in the book.  He wants to go soon because he wants to go on leave as soon as he gets back.  

I worked with the GSU S1 in the morning and in the afternoon, Said Wali is such a pleasant guy to work with most of the time.  I think my expectations have been lowered, but he sat down with me for about two hours straight as I worked through all of the roster with him.  That is a big spell for any of these guys.  He was about to cut it off and go onto something else, but then he thought better of it.  

the Major and the GySgt both came for class in the afternoon.  That was pretty good by all accounts. 

I found out in the evening meeting that Mirabon-saib, the kind one, had paid off someone in Kabul and was getting himself transferred up there.  

Members of the S-1 Admin section, breaking apart ink cartridges to refill other ones