Life on the FOB – Day 10 in Afghanistan
It is the equivelant of an Afghan Sunday here at the FOB. The ANA are gone, and the various military units here did their “in-service” trainings yesterday, on Thursday. Today, the US Army fellows walk around in grey Army PT shirts and black PT shorts, with an M4 slung across shoulders. The M4s look awkward and naked without a kit to go with them. The Brits are to be found, for the most part, lounging at the Brit Club in shorts, t-shirts, and sandles and other civilian attire, but with a gun belt and mag pouches dangling around their waists. The main activity at the club today is the watching of EU football, rugby, and a couple of guys playing video games.
I meet up with the French, an American SF officer, and SGT K., from New Zealand, and we go and spend the morning shooting. I burned through about 400 rounds of 9mm and about 120 rounds of 5.56. Good training and good shooting. Lots of movement drills, turn and fire drills, stoppage drills, and weapons transition drills. The group was very professional and needed very little cat herding so we all shot pretty continuously, occasionally trying out each others varying weapons.
After having coffee and cleaning weapons with the French at Le Cabernet (aka, the French Club) I stopped by the British Club (aka The Brit Club). One of the sergeants tracked me down and we spoke briefly about his experiences in southern Afghanistan as a platoon sergeant. SGT P. said something that immediately caught my attention:
“I would tell my privates that every contact is a key leader engagement. It doesn’t matter if you are an elder or a child, a Taliban or a farmer. You have to treat every contact as if it were a key leader engagement, because they are. You sit down on the dirt with old farmers and it’s a shura. If you only train the privates that meeting with the mullah is a key leader engagement, they never learn how to interact with everyone else they meet. And we aren’t meeting mullahs on patrol. Just farmers and lots of bored kids.”