Saturday, November 19, 2016

Training Again

This past week, I was up at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana to train another group of Defense Department civilians who are heading to Afghanistan.  My part of the training program was to serve as a mentor to a team of ten people as they went through several days of increasingly complex immersive scenarios.  We put them into situations where they have to put their classroom training into practice.  They coordinate movements with their military security team, go to meetings with Afghan officials, try to establish relationships, try to figure out the underlying issues, respond to rapidly changing circumstances, get shot at, and report what they learned back to the senior military officer in charge.

It's always rewarding to see the teams develop, and this one was no exception.  Their approach to their first event was pretty lackadaisical - they thought of it as just another class and showed up late.  By the end of the event,  though, we were beginning to get their attention.  During the next day's events, they weren't quite on board yet and I would've only given them a C or a C-.  But after that, they understood what was going on and they dove into it.  One student told me "I was convinced I wasn't in Indiana, I was in Afghanistan!"  They played it for real and they did a great job.  At the end of the last event, the senior Afghan told them that they were fully ready to be advisors.  I've never heard him tell a team that before.

This photo shows part of the training.  The team had to go to a bazaar and talk to some local Afghan merchants about the local issues.  There was a lot to hear, learn, and respond to.  Then they had to get out of the bazaar when things went bad.  

I love doing this training.  It's so rewarding to see the light come on in their eyes, to see how far they come in just a short period of time, and to help them internalize concepts that will enable them to fully understand their role and possibly save their lives.  It's rewarding to know that I have the background and skill set to help them through this period.  I'll keep doing this as long as I possibly can.

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