Sunday, April 5, 2009

Indian Country

Since long before I got here, this company has had personnel spread out over most of Afghanistan. We currently operate in 31 of the 34 provinces here, which is a lot of people over a lot of ground.

Anyway, most of them are in relatively secure static sites, guarding infrastructure or telecommunications gear. Not without risks, but fairly easy as far as security work goes. In any event, I didn't send any of them to those jobs. I inherited the guys and the contracts.

Well, tomorrow morning at 0800 I have to send a three man team down south into Indian Country. OpSec prevents me from saying exactly where, but suffice it to say that its not the fun bits. Not as bad (or as far) as Kandahar or Helmand, but still pretty active. There have been several recent instances in the province of the Taliban getting frisky, and a not insignificant loss of life.

Needless to say, I'm not entirely comfortable with this. The idea of sending my guys down there is bad enough; its made considerably worse when several of them file into the office and I have to choose ones who go and the ones who get to stay.* To their credit, not one of them has even flinched at the possibility. Several even volunteered.

*I don't generally think of myself as all that old (although I am considerably older than I care to admit). It's times like these, looking at a trio of my guys, one of them as young as 23, that I suddenly feel very old indeed.

On the upside, I'm sending them in the company of one of our contacts from that area, a local who knows the whole province and all the movers and shakers. He should be able to keep them out of trouble. In addition, one of my expats is going, a South African veteran of most of the ugly bush wars of Africa in the 80s and 90s and more recently of Iraq. He is a top-notch operator, and I have total faith in his abilities and judgement.

On the downside, this is a recon mission to scout out a possible work-site and deliver a situation report to a client. This means they go in low-profile and try to blend with the locals. It also means that they won't be carrying weapons.*

*At least they're not supposed to. If the expat decides to carry, he isn't going to tell me, because for admin and legal reasons I'd have to tell him to leave it at home. He won't tell, and I won't ask.

So, at the end of the day, its my call. I get to be the one to pick the guys, and I'm the one responsible for giving them whatever support and backup I can. Routes are checked, contacts have been made, precautions taken. The QRF (Quick Reaction Force, with another South African) is prepped and ready to follow if the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan. Still, I'm sitting here sipping my newly-acquired Scotch and trying to think of the things we forgot.

Probably will end up being an in-and-out milk-run, no contact, no trouble. These things usually are. Thirty-six hours and they're back here joking and laughing about some near-miss with a stray donkey that wandered onto the road. Probably.

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