Monday, August 30, 2010

General update...

Thank goodness we cleaned for three days...the General was a "no show" for the weekend.

Silver Lining = at least the place is clean and painted!

Friday, August 27, 2010

One of these days when I'm a General...

I've got two main things that I want to blog about is my R&R and the other is an upcoming visit from the General. I have finally been here longer than the time left until I take leave. As of right now I've been in country for approximately 120 days, my leave begins in 110 days (or so). The good news is that I'm 54% of the way to R&R and over 40% of the way through the entire deployment!

The other item I wanted to discuss is our upcoming visit from our "distinguished visitor" as some like to say. I've been an officer in the military for just a shade over 7 years now and the trouble some people will go through to please a General never ceases to amaze me. I have full faith that I will serve 20+ years in the National Guard and my goal is to attain the rank of Brigadier General...a lofty goal, but within reach.

A General commands a great deal of respect by the very nature of the rank. The person has put in their time and obviously earned their rank...kudos to them for sticking in there and thanks for the years of service! On the other hand, when it comes down the pipeline that the General (any General for that matter) is coming in for a visit it's like the ranking officers freak out all of the sudden and want to put on a show. I understand their reasoning for wanting to impress their commander, but there's no need to remodel.

The General will be here within the next 24 hours and over the past 5 days we have washed baseboards, painted, cleaned like Danny Tanner (Bob Saget from Full House), cleaned more, hung pictures, removed pictures, swept, installed computers, and had a briefing about what is/isn't expected. We've all been instructed to clean off our desks, which makes absolutely no sense since when they are covered in papers it typically means that we are busy. As the vehicle control officer I had to call in a favor from another unit and swap vehicles with them so that we have one large enough to taxi her entourage. We've been told how she likes her coffee, how she likes her bagels, and even where she wants to eat upon arrival...which we're all expected to attend.

I would assume that she doesn't request or demand any of these actions, however her entourage ensures that these things are known before her arrival. To say that her visit hampers normal operations is like saying that the ocean is wet. Tomorrow we'll all smile and shake hands and act like everything is normal, when she leaves the next day we'll all breathe our long sigh of relief and hope she doesn't drop by anytime soon.

So, the title of my blog for tonight is "one of these days when I'm a General" and to finish that day when I'm a General I think I'll fire the guy that puts on a show just because I'm coming for a visit!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The DFIP Grand Tour

You're probably wondering what is a DFIP...well it stands for Detention Facility in Parwan, it's the local jail. Parwan is the province where I am located and the Army likes to keep things simple, so that's why you get such an easy to remember name.

One of our main customers here is the DFIP, they buy anything and everything that you might be able to imagine. They are running a prison, so there are a lot of necessities that go along with that. For the past few months we've been trying to get a tour and it has been postponed numerous times...not today! We left early this morning and took a 2.5 hour tour of the facilities.

We had a "tour guide" from LA(lower Alabama) and he was more than happy to answer each question that we threw his way. First, we toured the exterior of the facility and then the inner portions that are still outside the actual cell areas. We were able to climb up in the towers, which happens to be the highest I've been since stepping off of the plane that brought me here. Even though there are mountains surrounding us you could see a really long way, there were even a few nomadic camels off in the distance.

After an hour or so outside and a little too much sun we all went inside to tour the facilities. We toured the warehouse that we, the contracting officers, managed to fill almost to capacity. Next, we were able to walk through the medical, dental, and healthcare facilities. Finally, we took a good long walk through the holding areas to include the secure facility...the worst of the worst.

Touring such a facility was a lot to take in within such a short period of time. The facilities were immaculate, their ability to obtain healthcare was immediate, they could have family visits, their children can come for health screenings, and the Red Cross will help to get their family from anywhere in the country to Parwan to come and see them. My personal opinion is that they are coddled and babied. The average prisoner gains over 30lbs during their stay. Basically, there is no motivation whatsoever for them to rehabilitate themselves to a point where they are able to live in "normal" society again. I'm sure the US does this to keep from getting any bad press like was received in the backblast of Abu Ghraib, on the other hand...I don't think that the prisoners should live better than the troops on ground.

Now you know my two cents.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

28 more days!!!, there's definitely more than 28 days until I go on leave or go home for good. There are only 28 more days until the University of Alabama kicks off its 2010 football season. It seems that even though some people couldn't care less about some sports, you begin to take interest in even the most dull sports during a deployment. I watched a great deal of the World Cup last month and I can remember watching hockey during my last deployment. One sport that I love is college football and as I mentioned, only 28 more days! Technically it'll be 29 more days until I get to watch football due to the time difference, but who's counting?

28 more days until UA football means only 28 more days until the Air Force half-marathon. I've been training as much as possible and have been running a minimum of 5 miles at a time for the past few weeks...typically a little more than that though. My feet are finally beginning to get some good blisters and I'm hoping that I'll be well past that by race time. We learned last week that there is another race coming up in October called Mogadishu Miles, it is ran in remembrance of those who lost their lives in 1993...most people know that as the story of Black Hawk Down. Anyway, that run consists of a 50k (31 miles), 25k (15 miles), or a 5k (3.12 miles) combat run wearing "full battle rattle"...or combat gear. I have been asked to run in the 25k, but we'll have to see how the half-marathon goes first.

Tonight was a great night all the way around. A few of the "scroungers" in our line of work managed to get access to some steak, crab legs, and lobster tail...what a night! Deployments are bearable because of small victories like tonight, getting to feel like I'm at home with friends. Many of the guys like to even drink non-alcoholic beer, or "near beer" as some call it just to feel a little more normal. If any of you have seen the movie Shawshank Redemption then you'll remember when Andy Dufresne (the main character) makes an agreement with the guards and does some tax work in order that his friends can all have three beers each. Andy chose not to drink the beer, he just wanted to feel normal, if only for a few minutes.

All is well in our little slice of the world, the new leadership has done a great job at changing the morale around the office and I have come to really like them...even though I had my doubts at first. We are swamped all the time, but they actually have encouraged us to get out of the office from time to time just to clear our heads. It turns out our Chief is a bit of a rug connoisseur and has challenged us all to go buy a rug just to see what kind of deal we can get from the locals. He also dared all the guys, and girls if they so choose, to grow mustaches. Daniel was the only other guy to accept the challenge and tried this for a couple of weeks, but he cut it after enough people poked fun at him. I told him I'd shave my head instead of growing a mustache, of course he didn't have to know that I was planning on doing so anyway! Although Loni told me it better be back when I get home for Christmas, I'm really enjoying it for now.