Afghan Dispatch #1: Pipeline (Originally Sent on May 4th, 2012)

For those of you that were in my contact list a few years ago, you know that I occasionally write about my experiences while deployed.  I’ve just arrived in Afghanistan, and hopefully there will be a plethora of new people to meet and interesting places to go.  For my first letter I’d like to discuss the journey here, and then give you a preview of what I’ll be doing.

The “pipeline” begins at whatever base you are stationed at.  For me, it was Okinawa, Japan.  I flew to Hawaii and began pre-deployment training. Once our unit had formed, we executed training on Hawaii’s “Big Island” and in Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. After the training,  my family flew to Oahu for an all to brief vacation.  

Our next trip had my unit(we’ll call them “Team 7”) moving from Oahu to LAX.  I always enjoy flying with a bunch of marines and weapons because of all the stares we get:) We spent a couple days at Camp Pendleton, CA, where I got to catch up with a couple old friends.  Our next leg had us move to a nearby Air Reserve base and catch a plane to Germany.  After Germany it was Kyrgyzstan, which is actually really nice this time of year. From Kyrg, we moved to the land of the Taliban.  All told, we’ve been traveling from Oahu for over a week and we’re still not at our final destination.  I won’t give specifics, but we are in the southern half of the country.

Team 7 was formed of volunteers from various parts of the Marine Corps based around the Pacific. Our job is to teach and train the Afghan Police.  We are a small, diverse team that has skills in many areas of military expertise. A big part of our training, and of the job we will do, is establishing rapport with the local police and hopefully earning their trust.  The training included actual Afghans in the employ of the Department of Defense as role players. We ate with them. We patrolled with them. We played cultural hopscotch around the minefield that is their social structure.  They said we did well.  Time to find out how well.

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