Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting My Transatlantic Alliance On

I have to give a hat tip (not in the blogger sense but in the old-fashioned one) to the retired O-6 in the room who warned me things might not be so easy post-R & R.

I thought I would sort of waltz back and since I was no longer the "primary" for my section, I would get to hide behind Dad most of the time, work a cushier schedule, and have more time for lengthy PT sessions, watching movies, learning Dari, etc. Not so fast.

As Cliff Krieger warned me more than once when I was home, if the O-5 boss has his druthers, he'll put the motivated O-3 to work. Sure enough, the new boss does, and he has.

Not that that's a bad thing -- the long, long days make the time go faster (on a clear day, I can see past the Hindu Kush foothills clear into September). As I wrote about a couple entries ago, the big picture is that no matter what I was doing here -- no matter how good, bad, exciting, boring, stimulating, or mind-numbing -- the most fundamental, central fact is that my unit will be off of our active orders come February.

Nothing really changes that, so I'm quite happy to be put to good use. It does of course mean that I put any e-mail in my Facebook or Yahoo inbox low enough on the daily to-do list that the box never gets checked (and if you've e-mailed me on either, I won't even say the 's' word because I know you understand), and that I'm not exactly taking time for some of the touchy-feely Morale, Welfare, and Recreation stuff that occupies some soldiers here.

But anyway, back to Camp Phoenix. Seeing some footage of the events this week in Libya naturally got me thinking about NATO. If you forget the whole issue of the-world-is-better-now-but-let's-brace-for-whatever-might-be-taking-shape-in-Tripoli-next and strictly look at things from a tactical perspective, score one for the Treaty Organization.

Things looked quite bleak for a while, and there's no question -- at ANY level of classification -- that NATO airpower and maybe even some, uhh...other power helped tip the scales on this.

NATO has been beaten up a lot lately in intellectual circles, but down at my level (senior Company grade and Field-Grade Officers) things honestly couldn't be much better. A huge portion of my day involves liaising with the French and Canadian militaries (I don't say 'Army' because they're not really divided the way we are), as well as the Bulgarians, Romanians, and once in a while the British.

Everyone shares. Everyone helps each other. Yes, we all have slightly different 'lanes in the road' (it wouldn't make sense otherwise, now would it?) but we have a common goal, which generally involves security operations in and around Kabul, and training the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). No one comes to it with a 'zero-sum' mentality, and a lot of us go out of our way to push information out to the others when it really matters.

It's easy for me to start to fall into the mentality of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (not at the end, though, but towards the beginning when he sees only futility in the repetition), and let thoughts about little peeves or the big things I'm missing at home get in the way, but one thing I know I will look back on after the deployment is the way our guys have forged strong relationships with the Canadian and French "J2 guys" that have gone way beyond the initial small formalilities and the shared laughter of trying to literally translate each other's bad words.

We won't all be Generals some day aspiring to be SHAPE, but I think that on some level, that stuff really matters.

No comments: