I spent last week up at Muscatatuck, training another group of State Department and USAID folks who are heading to Afghanistan. My luck held out: once again I had a team of really sharp people. They made my job easy. I could just suggest a few things, make a couple of recommendations, and ask that they consider this or that aspect, and they would take it and run with it. If anything, they made things a bit harder on themselves because they over-prepared themselves for the different events. They did their research and knew what was going on every time. In some cases, they had actually worked relevant real-life situations and knew much more about what would have been going on in reality than we presented in the training scenario. So I learned from them as well. And they definitely came a long way last week. At first, they were a group of students sitting around a table. By Friday, they were a tight-knit team, able to divide responsibilities, work with each other, handle anything we threw at them, and generally kick butt. And it is so cool to see that happen. So I'm wishing all the best to Mark, Amanda, Bernie, Bill, and Chris as they head downrange. Good luck and stay safe!
There was a sadder note to this week, though. This was the last of these classes for the State Department. The drawdown that has been accelerating over the last few months means that there won't be many State Department people going out to the field in Afghanistan anymore, and certainly not enough to justify continuing this course. So it has now ended. That's life, of course, but you hate to see a good thing go away.
I have to say that this training program has been one of the highlights of my professional life. Every once in a while, you get a perfect storm of an important mission, one that's fun and worthwhile in itself, and also get to work with a great group of teammates. We had that at Muscatatuck. The mission was critically important to those who were going to Afghanistan. It was so much fun to do. And my fellow trainers are a great group of people: dedicated, committed, experienced, sharp, witty, creative, innovative, and always put the mission first. We worked like hell to make the training scenarios the best experience for the students that they could possibly be. And we had a helluva lot of fun doing it. I'm going to miss working with them.
But there's always the chance that one day the phone will ring and somebody will say, "Hey, we're getting the band back together. We're on a mission from God and we need you at Muscatatuck." I'll be there in a heartbeat.