One of my first missions upon arrival was to eat—it was chow time. The mess hall is about ¼ of a mile from the Ag Hut which is where the Ag team is housed. We walked over to eat which is somewhat of a challenge in that the rock on the ground is huge. Not like what we have but more like 4-6 inches which is constantly shifting under your feet. The food was very good. It is like eating at Golden Corral every meal as Col. Heng—the Commander of the mission likes to say and he is right. Several entrees to choice from, a grill, multiple sides, fruit, deserts, all kinds of beverages and then a rack with things like cereal, jerky, cookies, muffins, etc. that you can leave with. First thing I was worried about going through the place for the first time was my diet.
Once lunch was finished we headed back to the Ag Hut. I was set up at a desk with a computer that has access to unsecure information only and internet that has some pretty tight constraints on it. Now I felt like a fish out of water. New country, new office, new people and no idea of where to start---but that was short lived. Just a bit after I got there plans were already in the works. We started scheduling missions. A mission is a convoy out of the FOB to a location that there is finished, in progress or proposed contract to do work. The first mission I was scheduled to go out on was to the DAIL.
The DAIL is an interesting concept. It is both a person and a place. DAIL is Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. This mission was to cover several items; my introduction, other team members introduction and to sign a large wheat contract that would provide wheat seed to several hundred farms in the Paktia region of
. Paktia or also spelled Paktya is the region that FOB Gardez is located. Each region has a DAIL and the Director of the DAIL is DAIL Zandran. Within the Paktia region there are 12 or so districts. The DAIL is in charge of Extension for that region. I was also introduced to the head of Extension in the region, Faroq -------. Afghanistan
The mission was scheduled for Aug 2nd. It starts long before that but for me it started Aug 1st at 5:00 as all missions start the day before at 5:00 with a security briefing. The participants of the mission meet in the security hut and the mission is outlined and security detail is appraised of the mission and how the mission is to be orchestrated to laid out. Each mission rolls with 6-8 MWARP which is a large armed personnel carrier. The crew consists of driver, leader in the passenger seat, gunner who mans the 50 cal or bigger on the top of the rig and a person that sits in the back facing out that keeps watch in his or hers direction. Last but not least the passengers. Everyone on the mission must attend the security briefing.
The day of the mission, the mission for the security team starts 11/2 hours prior to departure. They load the trucks and get everything ready. Everyone meets about 45 minutes prior to departure time and there is another briefing and the mission is again read through. Everyone gathers in their truck assignment and as a group each truck walks through a dry run of how the dismount and reloading and movement takes place. The groups are dismissed to get the body armor on and last things loaded and then you meet for a prayer and then you load up and head out.