Sunday, July 22, 2007

Moving On Up

First of all, let me apologize for not getting my update out last week. Thank you to my lovely wife Rebecca for communicating to all of you. I finally got onto my e-mail and I saw that she got more responses to her message last week than I regularly do from mine, go figure. So, this weeks update will have to be for the last two weeks. Better get ready for a marathon or more appropriately a Tour d'Afghanistan (you know the Tour de France is going right now).

You all remember the classic 70's TV show "The Jefferson's".
The opening song went something like this, "Well, we're moving on up, to the East side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky." Thanks to Rebecca, you all knew I was moving as a result of a "promotion"; more on that in a minute. Well my move was actually West to Camp Eggers closer to downtown Kabul. I am moving from the luxury of my double-wide connex with two rooms and internet to a shared small room in a broken down building with peeling paint and mold in the bathrooms. No deluxe apartment for me, more like a run down motel that charges by the hour, not that I have ever stayed in one of those. Of course I could be living in a tent and sleeping on a cot, so it is not all bad. At least I am on the base, some people have to live in what are called "safe houses" off the base and put on all their gear to take the 5 minute shuttle ride to the base to go to work. I can walk to my office. Living in my double-wide, I bought a few things and got the place quite comfortable. Moving to a smaller space meant that all the stuff I had just could not fit, so I am living among boxes in a space that is about 7' by 7'. I have to always remember though, there are plenty of people living in much harsher conditions than me, so all is well.

On to the promotion. After three months of getting things organized and getting things humming along, the CJ4 Director, Colonel Davis (Air Force) was impressed with the progress I had been making with the ANA. Because of this progress, he asked if I would take over a position at CJ4. Now CJ4 is under the command of CSTC-A (Rebecca explained that a bit) and this is the major command for which we all work. CJ4 is the Logistics Directorate with some pretty big responsibilities. After Col Davis offered me the position, I thought about it and then asked a bunch of questions. One of those questions was about the organizational structure of CJ4. I stated that I did not agree with the way it was organized as it was split between ANA and ANP which caused confusion. I asked him if he was willing to restructure the Directorate. He said he was thinking about it. Well, that night I sent him my ideas and the next day he added some thoughts and came up with a new structure. As part of that structure he now wanted me to be his Operations Deputy. At that point I really couldn't say no, even though I knew I would have a lot of work to do and would have to move to Camp Eggers.

I have been at the job for a week now and the main reason I accepted besides the huge pay raise, bonus, and stock options (yah, not so much) was that from this position I can effect a lot more change and make more of a difference. I oversee operations for both the ANA and ANP or as we now say, ANSF (Afghan National Security Force). My first week has been an information firehose; lots of material blasted at me in a very short time under a lot of pressure. I am less confused each day and I am starting to understanding who is who and which organizations do which activities. I can't say I am there yet. I told Col Davis I need a month to get things in order. I finished the organizational structure and still have to do some work on clear roles and responsibilities. It is difficult to learn while at the same time trying to keep up with the day to day tasks. This causes me and everyone else to work very long days. We are usually here past 10 o'clock at night. So the bad room thing is not so bad, since I just try to wind down and sleep there.

The group of people I work with are great, and that makes a lot of difference. It always amazes me the number of people who are making such great sacrifices to be here and do their duty. Everyone is pretty optomistic, and as always, I am remain positive about this experience. We are doing great things for Afghanistan. No, its not perfect... but we are making it better. I am always shocked at how much money we are spending to help Afghanistan, especially as a tax payer.

My big accomplishment for the week was that I found a few moments to find the laundry facility and turned my laundry in for cleaning finally. I also found the Dining Facility and the post office. Speaking of the post office, since I moved my address has changed.

Patrick Wade
Camp Eggers
APO AE 09356

At the office, I am not done settling in and currently work from a temporary desk. I made a few trips out to see the ANP (Afghan National Police) distribution facilities, as I have to learn all those operations now. I am fortunate that I has already figured out the ANA side, well as much as possible considering only it's only been three months and I am in a foreign country.

Almost two weeks ago some of you may have heard about one of our Air Force brothers, Master Sergeant Gillespie, was killed by an ANA soldier who opened fire on a group of people killing the US Airman and 4 ANA soldiers. It was a horrible incident and once again reminded us that bad things can happen over here. It was also very disturbing as this Airman was part of the class that went through Fort Riley with us. He was already eligible to retire and decided if others were going to fight the War on Terrorism he should go too. He planned on retiring when he got back.

Last Friday was "The Fallen Soldiers" Ceremony. I really hate these ceremonies. They are well done, but the whole thought of one of our military brothers leaving us is just a very unpleasant situation. As I stood in ranks that night, and listened as fellow soldiers told stories about this Master Sergeant, I looked up and saw the row of 16 flags from all the nations supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. I began to listen to the flags blowing in the evening wind. The wind always picks up in the evenings here in Afghanistan. Have you ever listened to a row of flags blowing in the wind? It sounds like waves crashing on the beach. It was actually a very calming sound as I love the sound of waves on the beach. Kind of funny that a sailor standing in formation at a funeral in Afghanistan hears the beach.

Speaking of the beach, bad transition here, Rebecca took the kids to the beach for a week at Camp Pendleton's Del Mar Beach. They stayed at one of the rental cottages on there. They played in the water, celebrated our friend Linda's birthday and had a great time. If you have never been to Camp Pendleton's beach, you are missing out because it is one on my favorite beaches. The beach is wide and clean... and patroled by the Marines, so it's very safe. The Marines also built new cottages in 2003 which are very nice. (Editor's Note: I took this picture of the sunset from our patio one night.)

Also speaking of the beach, our good friend Karen invited Rebecca and our nieces, Kathleen and Elizabeth to go to the Beach Boys concert at Pechanga Resort.
(Editor's Note: This is Kathleen, Bruce Johnston, Rebecca, Mike Love, and Elizabeth backstage at Pechaga. The show was amazing. The girls and I were singing and dancing through the whole show.)

Karen got them back stage passes to meet the Beach Boys and guess who was playing with them, John Stamos. And guess who spent some time with John Stamos, yes Rebecca did.

(Editor's Note: John, yes we are on a first name basis now, is absolutely, positively GORGEOUS in person, much more rugged than I thought, definitely not a TV pretty boy... and smelled great! I don't know what scent he was wearing, but I noticed how he smelled because he had his arm around me for a good 5 minutes! My friend Michael Lynn - the E! Hollywood producer that I met through Karen - who is btw doing the True Hollywood Story of John Stamos airing Sept 29th - had trouble with his camera while trying to take our picture. John waited patiently drumming his fingers on my shoulder... yes I thought I was going to pass out. John had a nice conversation with my niece Elizabeth, I was too star struck to speak. Leave it to the 19 year old to stay composed.

He even gave her a kiss... on the cheek of course.
(Editor's Note: After Michael finally had his camera working and had taken my picture with John, he said - something like "give her a kiss". I turned my head towards Michael completely shocked that Michael said that and John really did kiss me. And then as I stood there absolutely star struck and blushing, John said "I hope your husband comes home soon". To which I lamely replied "How did you know?" He said "I have my ways". I thought maybe he had seen my battle zone bracelet. Karen admitted later that night that she had mentioned to John earlier in the day that Patrick was in Afghanstan.)If he had slipped her some tongue I would have had to fly home and beat his butt, although I am sure Rebecca wouldn't have minded. (Editor's note: Not true, and oh by the way, nice word choice Patrick. Semper Fidelis - even if I'm not a Marine. And for the record, I texted Patrick immediatly after and told him "John Stamos kissed my cheek - have a pix" and he texted back "Nice. Did you kiss his? Hope you had fun" So Patrick is not the jealous type at all.) So it was just a cheek and hug; I am sure John Stamos has had his fill of blonde girls named Rebecca. For those not up on not so recent current entertainment events, John Stamos is divorced from Rebecca Romijn, the model.

I told you this was a long one, hope you didn't miss me too much.

Peace to you all,


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