PREPARING TO DEPLOY |
October 16, 2009
Posting date: 10/16/09
Returned from: Afghanistan
My current Battalion is at a crossroads. We are part of one of two "light" Brigade Combat Teams that I'm aware of that are on the roster to deploy to Iraq. Light, as everyone is (I'm sure) aware, means not motorized or mechanized -- hypothetically, we get around on foot, which makes us (again hypothetically) well suited for just about any environment except the desert or the plains. Cities -- good. Mountains / hills -- good. Forest -- good. And so on.
In fact, the "light" unit of which I'm a part is technically a "Mountain" unit, so that leads one to believe that we would be tasked with a deployment to Afghanistan rather than Iraq. On the other hand, there's a lot more that goes into a deployment than what appear to be the facts as stated, and the bottom line is that there's really no way to tell where we'll be six months from now. So, we train, and prepare for any eventuality.
If we were to go to Iraq, it would be under very -- to me -- strange circumstances. We're supposed to be pulling out, if I understand correctly, so our combat role will be that of mentors -- and readers of my previous-deployment blog know how that experience plays out. Meanwhile our administrative role will be to account for and ship home (or to Afghanistan) as much gear as we can get our hands on. I fully anticipate arriving at a FOB in Iraq and looking out over a motor pool of hundreds of vehicles -- Bradleys, HMMWVs, M1A2 tanks, to name a few -- and have to sign for, inventory, and ship out the lot. This will be somebody's responsibility -- whoever's the last one on the ground. Like a complicated game of musical chairs.
I'm reminded of George MacDonald Fraser's experiences with the British Army in what was then Palestine -- bizarre, unaccountable police actions mixed with administrative and logistical snarls that serve to reinforce life's absurdities, rather than fill one with the fire of combat and battle. Which, of course, was one of the reasons I signed up in the first place, being essentially no more mature, emotionally, than a 12-year-old.
I'm doing a better job of seeing old friends and family than I did last time around, in part because I understand, having gone through it before, how things like that gnaw at you when you're away, and in part because being in the United States makes visiting much easier. I still have quite a few people to see, so if you're reading this, and you're on the list -- get ready! I'm going to try to see you in October / November (unless we're changed to Afghanistan, in which case there's a little more time). I'll never forget what it was like to hear that my grandfather had passed, two months before I was supposed to see him over leave...
Besides, this will be one of the last times I get to see friends on the terms we're comfortable with -- an upward trajectory, with life still in front of us. We've all had time to realize some of our dreams, but are not so far along the path that we're locked in, or can feel that life's passed us by.