Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Well, I’ve been home almost five weeks, and in the office for four of those weeks. Not surprisingly, it’s had its ups and downs.
The ups – being back with family and friends, vastly improved quality of living, normal work hours. Driving the Black Beast up and down US 50, belching diesel exhaust as I go. Sushi. Beer.
The big downer – not being part of the mission, the war effort, anymore. It’s kind of like the “Six Degrees of Separation” game. While downrange, I was much closer to the main effort, with a great feeling of directly supporting the warfighters. It was especially so at IJC, the operational commander, the three-star controlling the six Regional Commands and in direct contact with troops in the field. The move to Bagram removed me a bit more from the pointy end of the spear, and, yes, we were a bunch of IT geeks “in the rear with the gear” who seldom if ever ventured off-base. But we were forward with the warfighters, with a distinct feeling of accomplishment.
You may not know it, but I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret … “official” Washington DC is populated by douche bags. Lots and lots of them. I could start with the do-nothing slackers on Crapitol Hill. The scumbag K Street lobbyists. The hide-bound bureaucrats of every stripe. The (un)civil servants who find a way to not do their jobs and still not get fired.
Or I could shift focus to the National Security apparatchiks. In defense of our country, and in furtherance of the war effort, they will staunchly defend the requirement to use the right font on your staff summary sheet to accompany a PowerPoint slide deck to tell a member of the Senior Executive Service why you need to spend money on IT infrastructure improvements. But your briefing will go nowhere unless you get the staff summary sheet right.
Pardon me, douche bag par excellence, but did you know that young Soldiers and Marines are being killed and maimed in shitty little villages in Helmand and Kunar Province while you sit at your cozy desk eating bon bons and wielding your all-powerful administrative scepter? The real world, the world where people fight and die every day, doesn’t give a shit about font size. They care about delivering the best possible support to those trigger-pullers so they can put warheads on foreheads. And that, in part, equates to providing a resilient IT infrastructure to deliver intelligence when and where it’s needed.
So it is that, while I’m far from clinically depressed, I do find myself saddened at times about being back here. A very distant relative of survivor’s guilt. I’m back home drinking beer while my comrades are eating the Afghan dust. This malaise is compounded by the realization that deployment is really a young person’s venture. They don’t need old farts like me as much as I feel the need to fight the good fight.
I’ve gone back and re-read a lot of these posts recently. They provide an interesting, and at times frightening, insight into my state of mind. They show the emotional roller coaster which reflected my mood and spirits at the time. The first two months at IJC were a more frenetic time, closer to the edge, and the writing reflects that. The four months at Bagram were, in comparison, more laid back, more removed from the fight, despite the periodic rocket attacks. And I was able to write about the silly stuff, the things we did for amusement, rather than fling f-bombs at the Supreme Court and the Westboro Baptist Church.
Life goes on. I think I’ll get us some sushi tonight.