What I Learned About Leadership

Yes, I actually learned something about leadership.

In the military, especially as an officer, your contemporaries are constantly going on and on AND ON about leadership: the traits of good leaders, their habits, philosophies, priorities, favorite foods, musical tastes, preferred canine breeds, boxers or briefs, back-clasp vs hook-and-spin, etc. By the time you’re an old, bitchy officer like me who’s seen a lot of shit go down (literally), when somebody starts rapping about leadership, you hear, “Leadership is like a box of choc-oh-lates…,” and your eyes glaze over, and you start thinking hard about what you’re going to make for dinner tonight, and who Jon Snow’s real father could be.

Maybe that’s just me. In any case, nothing compares to learning something through actual experience, and my deployment gave me an opportunity to do just that. So here’s what I learned: Continue reading “What I Learned About Leadership”

The Things They Teach You in the Military…

(Told this story in my author newsletter, but also relevant here…)

Reading a romantic suspense in the little dorm room I share with another officer recently, I came across this line: “You learn quickly in the military never to be caught without condoms.”

“Hey,” I called to my roommate, “did you ever learn never to be caught without condoms?”

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People Who Are Detrimental To Good Order and Discipline

I’ve started a campaign to end the tyranny of the Butt Burka! I went straight to the guy who makes the rules, the KIV commander, and asked him to please lift the ban on spandex and tights, as well as the rules forbidding skirts shorter than knee-length, and sitting in said skirts without crossing your legs, and also sheer blouses. Apparently, if these rules weren’t in place, all us lady-folk would be traipsing down the streets of Kabul in thongs and nipple caps, or we might randomly decide to rip our clothes off while eating lunch in the dining facility. Without rules, there would be female nudity everywhere!

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Christmas and the Flu

Right before Christmas, I had the flu for the first time in like twenty years. Know how I know it was the flu? They stick a swab up your nose until it touches the back of your throat, jiggle it around for a little bit, then pull it out and test the mucus for the virus. It’s as unpleasant as it sounds. Even though I’ve had the flu vaccine, turns out us dupes in the US get vaccinated for the American flu. Here in the KIV, you get exposed to flus from around the world, so the flu shot you get in the US doesn’t do shit here. Note to self: if I deploy again, don’t bother with the flu shot.

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A Christmas Scandal!

All over KIV we’ve got these little barricades called “burns” (however you spell it) which are basically heaps of dirt designed to absorb explosive or small arms impacts, where one may clear a weapon or hide behind in case shit goes down. The day after Thanksgiving, one prominent burn started getting festive.

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Hearts, Minds, and The Bieber

There’s a painful effort here at the KIV—a sort of never-ending gnashing of teeth—to balance winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans with the coalition’s personal protection. Safety is always supposed to come first, but the only way to be truly safe is to leave the country, and even then our reprieve would be short-lived. If history’s any indication (which it should be unless you’re an idiot), disengagement ultimately makes things worse, global security-wise.

Continue reading “Hearts, Minds, and The Bieber”