Saturday, October 24, 2009

Presidential Elections Round 2,

It’s been another odd week here in Kabul. I guess there isn’t really any reference for a “normal” week, but I will still call it an odd week. I have been on 3 convoys, the team presented what we are doing to the CG (Commanding General) and I woke up in the middle of the night to an earthquake. Lastly, Karzi agreed to a second round of presidential elections for 07 Nov. We will have to wait and see how that turns out.

The team has been back and forth to Camp Eggers three times this past week. The first time was to practice our brief for the CG. The second time was the actual brief. Not only was it for the CG, the ANA & ANP Surgeon Generals were present as were two other US Army 1-stars. There were approximately 60 people in the room. Because we didn’t have enough time for everyone to brief, only 3 from my team actually spoke. I had the tough job of pushing the arrow keys on the keyboard to progress through the slides for the presentation. The brief took 2 hours. We went to NDS in the morning before the brief and stopped at Eggers on our way back. The final time to Eggers was for our monthly “all hands” brief. This week was the first time I was in the back seat of the humvees. I was the gunner. I was the TC in the lead vehicle for the drive to NDS.

Another odd event was the earthquake. I don’t snap awake when I get woken up in the middle of the night. I thought I was dreaming. It was just before 0030 on Friday morning when the earthquake hit (you can read about it online). When I woke up, my bed was shaking. I thought I was waking up to a seizure (yes, I was completely disoriented when I woke up). You can laugh all you want to, but try waking up to your bed shaking from a deep sleep in Afghanistan and tell me what you think. The quake lasted about 30 seconds, so I didn’t think it was an explosion nor was there a big boom. It is a good story to bring back from Afghanistan though.

Another odd thing this week was when I went into the OT on Tuesday, the nurses told me one of the nurses had been transferred to the Lab. Originally, he trained as a lab technician, but somehow he ended up in the OT as a nurse. Most of the Afghans are always talking about the “corruption” here and how “powerful” someone is. It is all in “who you know”. I guess the OT nurse “knows” some in the ANA Surgeon General’s Office (supposedly the Surgeon General himself, MG Yaftali). The nurse wrote a letter and had it signed by Yaftali so now he works in the Lab. (Yes, I know it is screwy here). The other nurses are upset as it leaves them even more short-staffed. They asked me to see what I could do about it. I talked with my team and the decision was made to see the CO of NMH. I went and talked to him about it with my Chief Nurse (Dennis) and our team leader and both of their ANA counterparts. The decision was made by the CO to at least keep the nurse in the OT until after the election incase we have any more mass causalities.

Of course when we had the CG brief, we had our asses handed to us. We went in with what we thought was the correct format for the brief and the CSTC-A Command Surgeon had previously approved it. When we took over back in July, we were told to come up with individual metrics for our departments which were approved. The previous team had developed what is called DOTMLPF (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materials, Leadership & Education, Planning and Facilities.) We were told not to use it or update it back in July. Of course, that is what the CG wanted us to brief him on. The DOTMLPF is rated by a CM (Capability Milestone) of 4 (can’t do anything for themselves) to a 1 (self sufficient). So now, we have been scrambling to update this document so we can do another brief in the coming week. (Got to love Army logic…)

One other item from the CG brief is the room we had it in. I took some pictures of the CSTC-A Command Patch. We wear it on our uniform. I have included some pictures of it. Now I know what it symbolizes... (See the pictures)

Other than that, I did get in some regular mentoring. I was able to have training with the OT nurses on one day and with the Ortho surgeons on another day on the OSI Ortho Table. I will need to be with them the first few times they use the table to make sure it is set up correctly. It is difficult to use and takes a good 8 to 10 times of setting it up properly to become familiar with it.

On a final note here is a good article from the NY Times about Afghanistan and General McChrystal.

It is well written from the NY Times as it is fairly unbiased without a liberal slant. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Here are a few pictures…

This is Lach, myself and DJ in front of NMH

The CSTC-A Patch

A close up of the symbolism

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