October 13, 2011

Name: C.J. Grisham
Returned from: Iraq
Deployed to: Afghanistan
Milblog: Afghanistan War Journal

Ahhh, Monday. The beginning of another KAF-tastic week here in the waterless beaches of Afghanistan. At least, they USED to be waterless.

That’s right -- I woke up today to an odd smell; and it wasn’t the Poo Pond. Initially it smelled like wet dog, but apparently that’s what Afghanistan smells like after the first rain.

Walking outside my chu, I noticed odd little puddles of wetness on the ground and thought perhaps the Taliban was broke and had launched a water balloon assault overnight. Later this morning, there was a strange sound overhead and I went outside to find a steady rain falling. The temperature was a comfortable upper 70s with a light breeze.

This is normal for October, when Afghanistan begins to see a steady increase in rainfall. From October through April, the amount of rain in Afghanistan steadily increases each month. I didn’t think it was possible after being here two months with nothing but mostly clear skies and consistently hot temperatures. Historically, September is the driest month of the year for the nation.

I’m looking forward to seeing the rain throughout the year, especially coming from Texas where we haven’t really had any rain in quite a while. My wife said it has been raining a little the past few days, but nothing to write to Afghanistan about.

Random thought: I wonder if the rainfall ever causes the Poo Pond to overflow. As I type this, the rain is falling again.

I met with my team today to go over some goals for the next few months as we get busier with folks coming and going on R&R (rest and recuperation) leave. Once that starts dying down, we’ll then be busy with redeployment operations (not for awhile).

Because we never really need to leave the FOB, I think it’s important that we use our time here wisely. I’ve encouraged them to sign up for some college courses that they can take in the evenings. Since our schedules are so fluid, I suggested online courses that meet their individual missions. We’re a tight-knit team and can cover down on each others’ work if it conflicts with a class. This weekend I will complete two classes and I begin an upper level biology course on the 25th that goes through December. I’ll decide whether or not to do one more semester at that point. Ahh, the beauty of online college, though it doesn’t leave much time for sleeping.

It’s kind of funny thinking how different this deployment is from my last. The last time I was deployed, I was a Staff Sergeant and led a very successful HUMINT team. The mission kept me out on the streets, interacting with the Iraqi people, and doing the important work of finding the bad guys.

Once I made Master Sergeant, my mission became more of a support and management role. I coordinate and deconflict the many missions for which my team is responsible. I miss not having the opportunity to go out with the teams like I used to, but it is what it is when you get to this level. I take pride in knowing that at least I can support the guys that DO go outside the wire. Someone has to arrange transportation of replacement personnel and equipment. Of course, I knew that I wouldn’t be leaving the FOB even before I deployed (as I wrote here). And you know what? I’m perfectly content with my contribution to the war effort. And so is my wife!

What I’ve found, though, is that being stuck within the gates of the FOB does not necessarily mean that I am safer here. In the two months that I’ve been here, we have had 58 rocket attacks and one VBIED launched against us. A few of these have landed within 150 meters of my location at the time. As a matter of fact, had I been down with the Brigade on their FOB, I probably would have been much safer! “Safety” is definitely a relative term in a combat zone.

The constant rocket attacks remind even us “fobbits” that we are still in a war zone. We still carry our weapons and ammo everywhere we go. While unsuccessful, the Taliban even attempted a ground attack against Kandahar Airfield last year. While I won’t say exactly where I’m located, our office is within small arms distance and sight from the perimeter fence. Needless to say, we will not be getting too comfortable until we’re safely back on Texas soil next summer.

In the military, we like to poke a lot of fun at us “fobbits.” I like to do it, too. The truth is that I’m proud to serve alongside these troops who are sacrificing time away from their lives, their families, and their hobbies to serve their country in whatever capacity they are called to. These Soldiers are top-notch and I’m honored to serve alongside them. Nothing and no one can take away their service and sacrifice regardless of where and how they serve in this war.

As I was reading my scriptures last night, I came upon some good advice that I’m heeding:

“Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” -- Jacob 3:1, Book of Mormon

I am clear in conscience and focused on my mission. I look forward to going home next summer after serving with honor in another combat zone and doing my part to answer the call my country has given to me. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” -- Isaiah 6:8, Old Testament.


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