So by a complete fluke I am back at a large base in order to get a few administrative things completed. Of course it takes forever to catch a helicopter flight to wherever you are going in Afghanistan so I am stuck in this land of hot showers, internet, and decent food. As much as I appreciate the amenities, I hate being away from the guys.
I will readily admit that I have a distinct love-hate relationship with my profession at the moment. The job offers unique and indispensable knowledge and situations that you could never get any where else. On a daily basis I am often confronted with a situation that in now way I am trained to handle. For instance, providing housing and protection for over 80 soldiers in a country where building materials and resources are at a minimum. So of course you improvise. Currently my platoon is living in an abandoned school building that we renovated with electrical house wiring and hescoes for added protection. Those are the kind of problems you learn to solve.
But I will tell you the real struggle is dealing with people that really have no connection to a war while being right in the middle of one. For instance, 80% of soldiers really don't leave the wire and most spend an inordinate amount of time at a desk working on PowerPoint or sending emails. The closes thing to a fight they see is when it is displayed on a screen. Unfortunately they don't feel the day in day out misery of dealing with substandard living conditions and the possibility that something terrible could happen at every minute. And to add on this whole scenario is typical for senior leadership. They unfortunately don't see the day-to-day life of a grunt. The only hope is that they trust the guys on the ground enough to give them the space to accomplish their mission.
The long and short is that after 8 months of being in Afghanistan it hasn't gotten better or worse. It is simply a daily hellish situation that soldiers go through. I am sure it is merely the pessimism and fatigue at this point but that is what blogs are for, to disseminate feelings across the world.
But to end on a good note one very interesting situation caught me off guard a few weeks ago. We were moving through one of the hundreds of villages in our Area of Operations and we stopped to talk to a few people. One little kid looked at me kind of funny and asked through the interpreter "Are you not from America, the greatest country in the world?" I simply responded "Yes" and the kid fires right back with "well then why are you so dirty?"
I thought it was so funny simply because this 5 year old afghan kid was able to see something so basic but was so provocative at the same time. I really miss having the simple views of being a kid. Unfortunately this adult world has gotten so caught up in semantics and BS that we forget to see simple things like being dirty.