Friday, March 29, 2013

Deployment Entry 5

Happy Good Friday!!!

The last few days have been a bit hectic so I haven't really had the time or energy to sit and write in my journal.

Did some cardio the other morning and cracked the 45 minute mark on the treadmill and notched up 8kms. Almost cracked the 60km mark. Decided I am going to keep a track of how far I run each day and see how far I run whilst deployed.

It's been an interesting few days. Last night we had a late call out to a drunk contractor on base. This normally wouldn't be a huge deal back home but alcohol is illegal here in Afghanistan and is definitely a prohibited item here on the base. It was funny and entertaining to watch this contractor stumbling around drunk bit after talking to him again this morning I feel kind of sorry for him. Looks like he unwittingly had a spiked drink. We should know more in the coming days.

So today was another KamAir day. Everything pretty much went as planned which is kind of a first. But it still made for a ridiculously long day. The locals here like to work in what we call 'Afghan time'. It's kind of like Fiji time. Now if I was relaxing by a pool in Fiji, I wouldn't mind so much but when you're standing around for hours wearing body armour Afghan time can go fuck itself. Though as it gets hotter I may just sweat those few kilos off!!!

Another late night tonight - though for no reason now it seems. Had a call come through that we may have had to go down to the Role 2 for a casualty but after sitting around for 40 minutes we've just been stood down as they've been sent to the local ANA hospital.

Didn't get to the gym today because of KamAir which put me out of rhythm for the day. Going to fix that tomorrow with a solid cardio session in the morning.

One plus tonight has been the ability to hang out with some of the people in the chalet. I really dig the CO. She's fucking hilarious - an absolute cracker and quick off the mark. I've not laughed so much as I have here these past few days.

Just waiting for the end of Minority Report and then its bed time for me. Although I gave myself a little sleep in this morning I still feel tired. Looking forward to tomorrow. We are off to Camp B to get a tour of the Apaches. Gonna be awesome!!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deployment Entry 4


What a day.

Hit the gym nice and early again, though honestly I really just wanted to stay in bed for a little bit longer. Just decided to do a hill climb instead for 45 minutes then some abs. Got everything sorted and squared away for KamAir then headed out to the burn pit again with FLTLT C. I enjoy hanging out with him because he has some really interesting things to say, isn't too serious all the time and gives great advice. Plus it's just nice to get out of the office and do something different sometimes.

Once that was done it was KamAir time. Can we spell CLUSTERFUCK???? C is so frustrating and it irks me that she picked up her CPLs before me (as irrelevant as that all is now) because today she demonstrated quite clearly that she has no idea what she is doing. The problem with that happening today was that it totally compromised the safety of the rest of us. And that is something I am not at all okay with.

Honestly, the last few days the one thing that continues to stand out to me is that that she is just too old now. C is 58 - 2 years off of compulsory retirement - and her age is extremely evident. She is very slow to do most things, drives like a nanna and needs things explained several times to the minutest detail. Even then, like today, she stuffs it somehow.

Today I had to deal with a pissed off sponsor who needed a badge renewal approved and C had knocked it back just because it was hand written, even though this sponsor had already spoken with FPSS about the specific badge application. It just makes us look bad!

Got some good news today from mum though, about the house, which took a lot of stress off my mind. Can't wait to get a package from home with some photos in it so that I can decorate my bunk space. I really should have thought to bring some with me because I don't really have that 'little piece of home' to enjoy when in my room or feeling particularly home sick.

Had an interesting chat with the CO last night. She was asking about my tattoos, boyfriends, kids etc. It was strange but I felt oddly comfortable talking with her. I think she is a CO I would really enjoy working for in the future, though from out chat I learned she is looking to discharge and relocate to Melbourne. That will certainly be the RAAF's loss.

Easter is almost upon us. Trying hard to avoid the copious amounts of chocolates here and doing alright so far. At least I am doing enough PT to make up for any dietary lapses, though my knee is a little tender at the moment. Sill having some issues with adjusting to this whole going to bed at an earlyish time of the night. My brain just doesn't seem to want to settle down enough to let me sleep. It's 2130hr and almost everyone is in their rooms or asleep. Yet here I am sitting out in the communal lounge area on my own. Hopefully this will sort itself out soon enough and I can find a normal rhythm. I just don't want to burn out here.

One thing I am looking forward to, when I get home, is taking more than 2 minutes to shower. And really washing my hair! The water is so hard here that even when I was my hair it feels like crap!

Today I saw my first really confronting thing. One of the passengers for KamAir was a young man in a wheelchair because both of his legs were missing. He had lost them both from an IED. I wouldn't have put him a day over 25. Just a sobering reminder that I really am in the middle of a war zone, and that constant vigilance is needed to make sure I get home in one piece.

Alright, forced bedtime I think.

Until tomorrow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Deployment Entry 3

So today I racked up my fifth year in the RAAF. It is hard to believe it has been that long already. No doubt the next 5 years will go by in a bit of a blur too.

The day started and ended reasonably well - though I have to admit it was fairly well shit right in the middle. I got up this morning and took myself off to the gym for some cardio. Given the Butts and Thighs workout I did last night with G's class, I was happy to just be able to sustain a good steady pace on the treadmill for the 30 minutes.

Headed in to work nice and early so that we could conduct an OP. That was interesting and a fair bit of fun. But then when we got back to the office the boss had sent an email back about the IR report I had done the previous evening. I thoroughly dislike being told my work is rubbish or crap, most especially when I am told to write up a document I haven't even been shown how to write, with fuck all information (on a matter I didn't even witness!!!)

Been here a week and the Boss thinks I'm incompetent thanks to the laziness of the FSGT. As you can imagine, this put me in a fairly shitty mood. It was hard to shake it off, but I managed to when I got the chance to do a recky on the burn pit with FLTLT C. Tomorrow is another KamAir day so hopefully it is better than today was. I think I will let C do the searches tomorrow and I will be the sentinel. Will see how it all unfolds anyway. I think tomorrow morning I will just do a hill walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes or so - get a nice burn into the legs. Maybe a nice session on the stepper? Plus I think I need to work on lowering or reducing the size of my lunch time meal. Even though it was healthy I think I over indulged a bit today, quantity wise. Oh well, it's all new things to try and learn. Mum is handling the damage to the Jacaranda tree well - hopefully the house is fine.

Fingers crossed for a more enjoyable day tomorrow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Deployment Entry 2

The search went really well - nothing was found, which is a good thing, but everyone worked together nice and smoothly. Got to hang out with the really cool girls from the badge office while we searched the female accommodations. One of the poor girls had a dildo hidden in her pillow, which the boys found. She has an awesome sense of humor though - thankfully - so is laughing it off quite well. Kind of have to when dealing with grunts who have no appreciation for discretion.

Today was an interesting day again. B has gone on ROCL so his phone was automatically given to C, since she is a CPL. Every now and then my position as the lowest ranking team member is made very obvious - like giving her the phone even though she is answering it wrong per OPSEC. Or her talking over me, even though I am the person asked for information relating to something. I particularly liked it today when she was tasked with finding something out, yet didn't ask enough questions. I am not about to make her look more competent than she is by doing the work for her.

Had a bit of a stealth mission today, doing some discreet surveillance on a vehicle suspected of looting metal from the burn pit. C is incapable of being discreet though and makes it painfully obvious that we are taking photos etc. On our low radar perusal of the local Afghan shops on base today - she stuck to me like glue and openly talked about what we were supposed to be discreetly looking for and listing. It does my head in. She's lovely, just frustrating.

Hit the gym tonight for G's butt and thighs class. Going to be hurting a bit tomorrow but no pain no gain as they say. Have met some really cool people here. I enjoy talking with FLTLT C (Dave Schapel in our TK movie cast). He is great value and has given me some great advice on how to deal with the rank issues in the team etc. He's a great sounding board - is similar to me in the whole 'not living in each others pockets' thing.

Our CO is absolutely fantastic. She has the best sense of humor and a great Scottish accent, though I am quite sure I do not want to be on her bad side. My room mate is a Defence Civvie who seems to keep to herself and doesn't really interact with any of the service people in the chalet. She seems nice enough though. A bit of a pain in the ass in the morning because she sleeps later than the rest of us, so I am often dressing by torchlight so I don't wake her. I think that by 6:30am I am just going to start turning the light on.

We have limited wifi here in the chalet which is handy. It makes it a lot easier to keep in touch with everyone back home on email and facebook, as well as with M. Still get a kick out of hearing how happy mum is when I get the chance to ring home and talk to her.

Have an early start tomorrow for some reason, but still want to get my gym session in so best sign off now and get some sleep. My body clock is starting to adjust to the whole daylight hours thing - I think.

Hopefully things start to dry off a bit after the rain the other day. It just turns all the dust here to sludge. There is mud on everything!!! And only a 2 minute shower once a day to rectify it. Love it!!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Deployment Entry 1

NB: Names have been omitted to protect the privacy of others.

Well my first week here is done and dusted. It's so different here. It's dirty, dusty and looks like a massive construction site but it's extremely well organised and run with a high degree of precision. Everyone here has a purpose and moves around with a sense of seriousness about themselves. It has definitely been a bit of an eye opening week. I have settled in quite well all things considered and am finding my feet with the role here.

Every Tuesday and Friday we do security for a civilian airline called KamAir. My job is to search local female Afghans coming onto the base to catch the flight. It's pretty full on. We are all kitted up in body armour and at the 'action' condition of weapon readiness. There is not much more than a big ass HESCO wall and about 30m separating me from Tarin Kowt city during the KamAir days. So it's pretty well as close to the front line as I am likely to get.

The Afghan women that come through are really interesting. We have a female interpreter, O, who is an absolute cracker. She helps facilitate language issues. The women here are really quite beautiful once you get them out from under their coverings, but we have to make sure that they search area is clear of any males because if they see the women uncovered, that would be a death sentence. It's a lot of pressure, to be responsible for someone's life with something that we would consider so insignificant. Some of them are really good with the searches; laughing and giggling with O while it's all being conducted. It must be a strange experience for them, not only seeing women in uniform whose faces aren't all covered up but also being physically touched by a woman as well. Some of them seem absolutely terrified by the entire experience and no matter how much we try to reassure them you can just tell they are petrified.

The children that travel with them are quite cute, and whilst it is a confronting or scary process for them as well, we are usually able to smooth it all over with a little bit of chocolate or a lollipop.

I have to admit I was nervous the first day. These people are coming onto the base, the men being searched by local Afghan security working with ISAF but the women don't get searched at all until they reach me. While there hasn't really been any intel to suggest the use of women as PBIEDs there is nothing to say it won't happen, so I could very well be searching a walking, talking bomb. The thought had my stomach more than a little unsettled at first.

The rest of this week has rolled on smoothly. A second KamAir under my belt now. Finding it easier to get around the base now and starting to look at the shops and getting a bits and pieces to take back home. So far I have been able to go to the gym for an hour each morning, which I am enjoying, and I have done a good job so far of avoiding the massive amounts of chocolate and soft drinks here. I have even skipped desserts - though that is easy to do when you don't go to the DFAC for dinner.

Friday morning we had pancakes breakfast at the chalet, cooked by the WOD and one of the FLTLTs. It was bloody delicious and massive. I treated myself to a pancake and some fruit. Figured it was ok as a treat.

I cannot get over how prolific drugs are here in Afghanistan. We are regularly collecting seized packages from the AMK9 teams whose narc and explosive dogs check vehicles coming onto the base. I've learned how to test the various substances, which is really cool. Tonight we are doing a raid/search on a contractor sector in the base to see if we can find prohibited substances because they are not allowed on base at all but are getting in somehow. I will be leading my own search team which is pretty cool!