Saturday, September 24, 2011

On To The Next Phase

My training in DC finished up yesterday. I have to say that what I've seen so far is way better than what I saw three years ago. These courses were very well laid out, with well-chosen topics and mostly good presenters. This week, we started with presentations and moved more into scenario-based role-playing. These demanded that we be involved and participating, and provided some excellent insight into what we'll be facing.

For example, in one role, I was on a small district-level team that was having trouble with a district official. He was always off for "consultations" in the provincial capital and never in his district. But as I put myself in his place, I realized that he couldn't read, couldn't write, didn't know what his job was supposed to be, wasn't from the area, was probably from a different tribal background, didn't know anybody, and was probably curled up in a fetal position under the desk, sucking his thumb and waiting for the hammer to fall. My job was to build his confidence, get him out to the villages and introduce him to the elders, and give him some of the basic tools to do something. Anything. Because the Afghan government doesn't have the resources to do it.

Next week, I'll be in an immersion course in Indiana. We'll be living on a pseudo-FOB (a Forward Operating Base), working with military counterparts also going thru training, and interacting with Afghans. We'll learn what to do if an MRAP rolls over and ride in a helo, live in tents and eat in DFACs. Should be fun.

So today, I have to wrap up things here in the DC area. There are some computer account issues that I have to straighten out, make a bank run, go by the post office, drop off a bag at the hotel I'll stay at next weekend, turn in the rental car, and get on the flight. Time's a-wastin'!

1 comment:

lorraine said...

I just have to say thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with those of us out here. I have commented before and mentioned (I think) I traveled across Afghanistan in '71 before the roads blew up and the Russians, etc. The Afghans were wonderful and open people at that time. I traveled from Kabul to Herat via bus and stopped at all the little villages along the way. My heart goes out to them for all the troubles they have endured through this last period put truly the didn't get a good hand to begin with. Best of luck with your work and may you bring some real help to this sad situation. For one I am following you as I have since I picked you up in Iraq a year or 2 ago. Time goes by so fast it could have been longer. God be with you. lorraine