Thursday, November 01, 2007

Positivity- well, ok, some positivity at least

First, I hope folks had a good Halloween. My sweetie is probably having to deal with some sugared up kids for the next few days. I miss seeing little kids in ridiculous outfits.

As I talk with folks around here in southern Iraq and those coming down here from Baghdad, things continue to seem to be improving in terms of security. Now we hope that the political processes start moving forward, so the security gains may be not just maintained, but strengthened. On a less positive note, I'm not impressed by the headlines about certain State employees complaining about the potential death sentence in an assignment in Iraq. Please. You are in the state department with the responsibilities that entails- your choice, just like ours in the military. Second, you would be hunkered down in the IZ, where indirect fire attacks have decreased considerably. It appears to me that the complainers clearly don't have an accurate picture of the risks, and have forgotten the responsibilities and duties of their position. Things really are getting better out here, albeit at a very slow rate.

In addition to things getting better in general here, we're reaching the completion of our last brigade-level training at the Academy. It has been a good brigade, with the usual problems here and there, but overall a high degree of professionalism and work ethic. Good leadership and enthusiastic police. We then "close" the Academy, and "open" the Training Center for one or two iterations of basic training. So six years after running a basic training company, I'll get to supervise what is essentially a basic training battalion/brigade.

Yesterday we hosted another VIP visit. Our last two visits have been a 46 person visit(!) and this one, a 30 person visit. We didn't get much feedback on the visit, we rarely do, beyond "they were happy with it." Good enough. We're accustomed to operating in a bit of an information vacuum down here. Not much different from the feedback I'd get as a graduate student way back... And the visitors, at least the principals, were all pleasant and charming folks. I rarely am unhappy with them when they come visit. The less pleasant parts are all of the extra folks- the "handlers". Security folks aren't a problem, but the "handlers" are all trying to show how they add value, and from our standpoint down here, fail miserably. Most of them appear to be little more than tourists and hangers on. Come down to our worksite, take a bunch of photos like you're on a middle school field trip, and hop back on your birds. This one was important- I could tell by the 4 birds (helos). Not so important they brought gunships with them, but it was quite the show. Our last visit could have been done with easily half the people, and the 46 person visit could have easily been cut to 10. Oh, well. It was a good visit, and we can now prepare for the next one. The hits just keep on coming. And MSG Timmy and I have both qualified for our "Tour Guide" tabs, to go alongside our Fobbit and Powerpoint Ranger tabs.

Even my positive posts have a high degree of critical comments in them. I'm happy inside, really- even as I complain.

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