Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Secret Out Here

In "Band of Brothers," there was one certifiably badass Officer who was either very brave, very crazy, or perhaps a mix of each. One day, as Easy Company was digging their "improved fighting positions" in the woods of Belgium, someone asked him his secret.

"That's simple," Lt Spears said. "The whole trick in battle is that once the shooting starts, just assume you're already dead. At that point, you stop caring, and then you just can't go wrong."

Of course, that advice doesn't really apply in this portion of this theater at this time. Because we're Fobbits one day, drinking tea with Afghan police chiefs the next day (see picture), then truck commanders the day after, and liaisions with our NATO buddies from France and Canada each morning around dawn, that advice doesn't really apply. On the one hand, our mission is far, far safer than what Easy Company did on its journey from Georgia to England to Germany. Then again, ours is way more complex and varied.

If there were an equivalent "mental trick" out here, it'd be this: Just bear in mind that nothing you do, or are asked to do, is going to get you home to your family any faster or slower.

I think that all the high-performers I see around me intuitively *get* this. As I've even heard our Commanding General say, "I'm not thrilled to be in Afghanistan, away from my wife and kids, but while I'm here I'm damn sure going to make the most of it." The people who don't quite take on this gung ho attitude (and why is it that the most disgruntled tend to be the worst performers?) are too busy complaining about what someone else is or isn't doing, and often spend more times trying to avoid duties or complaining about them than they would just knocking them out.

I'm not even halfway done with the mobilization, though I can't help but notice that "halfway day" is coming closer and closer on the calendar. But what I'm not going to get into is a countdown mode. Besides the fact that it's just too soon for that, the better mentality to have, I believe, is to take whatever comes each day, get *lost* in it (errr...maybe I mean 'immersed' there) and then just sort of let the calendar take care of itself.


C R Krieger said...

This makes sense to me.  That said, the "short" calendar was always fun.  And the line "I am so short I can't see over the tops of my boots", but that is so far away it is a dream.  For now it is maximizing the available opportunities, which, with luck, will never come your way again.  For now it is "Seize the moment!"

Regards  —  Cliff

Progressive Veterans said...

Cliff measures "shortness." Grunts have a measure for time in. You take a traffic cone and paint the tip and then circles around the cone, descending about every 4inches. Each circle, getting bigger as you drop down the cone, counts as 5 years in.

When you can sit on the cone, taking the whole thing in, you are a lifer.
- Jack