OPSEC

OPSEC

OPSEC is the military acronym for OPerational SECurity, which entails the processes and practices designed to limit, if not eliminate, leakage of information that may aid adversaries. Wikipedia offers a comprehensive explanation. Why am I mentioning this? Well, OPSEC basically limits what information I can share through this blog and photo gallery. This website is viewable by anyone, including individuals or organizations who desire to gather data in an effort to further their agendas – particularly those involving violence against the men and women conducting the mission here in Afghanistan. OPSEC can be compromised in many ways – a casual conversation between coworkers in a public setting, photos posted to the internet without discretion, careless use of social media, or even blog entries posted by an innocent English teacher. You get the point. So, while I’d love to reveal every detail of this experience through images and text, my hands are significantly tied. But fret not. There will be plenty to share despite these limitations. Now where did I put those plans for that fully-operational battle station? Hope I didn’t post them to the...
The Road To Afghanistan

The Road To Afghanistan

Getting to Afghanistan was a protracted affair, but a unique and interesting experience. There’s a rigid, cumbersome and somewhat frustrating process that must be endured by essentially every civilian deploying to a conflict zone on behalf of the U.S. military. The best way to survive it is to take a deep breath, relax and tap every ounce of patience you can muster. To be fair, the process is designed not only to satisfy the military’s appetite for paperwork and procedure, but also to ensure each participant satisfies specific deployment criteria and is not a health, safety or security liability once in theater. The journey began with a week of corporate indoctrination in Orlando, Florida. I spent the week with a handful of other new-hires deploying to Afghanistan, jumping through various administrative hoops, completing required training and ensuring all our ducks were in a row for the deployment. The support and preparation from the company was good. Our handlers knew their jobs and did well to prepare us for the road ahead. Next up was the Army’s mandatory pre-deployment process known as IRDO. This week-long experience at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, consists of four main activities: a generous helping of paperwork, a thorough medical review, a mix of web-based and lecture-based training and issue of personal protective equipment. Along with roughly one hundred and fifty of my (newly) closest friends, I shuffled through the necessary steps to obtain the coveted clearance to deploy. The experience was somewhat reminiscent of boot camp, just without all the push-ups and shouting. At the end of IRDO week, everyone is bussed up the interstate to...
It Begins

It Begins

Days ago, I arrived in a country I never expected to visit. A land of deserts, mountains, ancient traditions and hardy people. A place of struggle, transition and hope for a better future. For the next year, Afghanistan will be my home away from home. Several years ago, I began working diligently to prepare for a new career teaching English abroad. I trained, studied and gained teaching experience. Finally, the time had arrived to throw my hat into the international ring. So here I am on a one-year contract to teach English to members of the Afghan National Army. During this time, I will live and work on the coalition base at Kabul International Airport. Although my exposure to Afghanistan will be significantly limited during my stay, I am anxious to discover everything I can about this land and its...