Sunday, February 2, 2014

Exciting Week

Whew!  This week is finally done!  I felt like I was on the Harry Potter mine train underneath Gringotts for most of the week.  It was just one bombshell after another (metaphorically, not literally, for those concerned...well, okay, perhaps literally in one case.  Guess you gotta read on, now!).

The week started with notification that our water delivery contract was going to end within a week.  Now this is Afghanistan, so you have to understand:  We don't get our water from the city.  There is a piping infrastructure underground, but every day we get a water delivery to fill up a bulk storage tank that then gets pumped into the pipe infrastructure.  It was that water delivery contract that was ending in a week.  The frustrating part was that our Engineers had been working it with Contracting for the last two months, but Contracting was just getting around to doing something about it.  By that time, it was too late to get the new contract in place by February 1st.  That meant we got to go through the headache of sourcing a "bridge contract" whereby we use the same vendor that was doing the work to keep doing the work while Contracting got their act together.  Oh by the way, since the contract is really for the Afghan base that our FOB is on and we just tap into that supply, we can't pay for it with regular money; we have to use a special color of money.  But wait...there's more!  We can't use the special color of money to pay for the portion coming onto our base; we have to use the regular color of money.  Now get all that figured out in the space of just a few days.  STOP THE MADNESS!

If that wasn't enough, we had a series of security issues over the space of about 36 hours (I can't tell you about those), which ultimately meant extra work for our Defenders.  That meant my Captain and I were burning the midnight oil trying to figure out how we were going to make it all work.  In fact, we're really still trying to pick up the pieces.

Speaking of picking up the pieces, we've got a major electrical upgrade project going on right now, so we've had Afghan laborers trenching all over the base.  That should have sent up a red flag since we're in Afghanistan, but it didn't.  Thursday, one of my cops came in told me they had found a UXO (unexploded ordnance).  I said, "I want to go look at it."  We went out to look at it, and it had been moved over by one of the T-Walls!  Now, I admit, it looked like a heavy weapons bullet that had been in the ground for about the last 30 years (anyone remember what was happening here 30 years ago?).  But we called EOD to look at it to be sure.  It did turn out to be inert, but you're not supposed to move those things!  The next morning, they found another one.  This one looked like a landmine.  Once again, one of the Afghans picked it up and was even about to chunk it until our US member providing overwatched screamed, at which point we convinced him to put it down carefully.  Once again, we called EOD, and they determined this one, too, was harmless.  It had already been exploded...probably 30 years ago.  That afternoon, we had yet a third scare.  STOP THE MADNESS!  By now, we had finally convinced the Afghans to leave anything they found in the ground.  Here's a picture of what they found:

We called EOD for a third time and, after digging it up, determined that this one, too was harmless.  I'm sure you can even see that for yourself:

As my week was ending, and I thought (hoped?) things were returning to normal, I got tagged to get a maintenance problem addressed in one of our dorms over on the main base.  That's not normally even my area of responsibility, but I'll spare you the gory details of how I even got involved.  But they had some major plumbing issues that was causing raw sewage to collect in a pool outside the building.  We were just getting maintenance contracts switched over, so I was able to get the contractor out there to look at it.  That building still needs some serious work since it appears that there's a broken pipe underneath the building, but at least they were able to clear the current clog and temporarily alleviate the sewage cesspool.

As I lost altitude and airspeed and prepared to crash into the weekend, it ended on a good yet bittersweet note.  We said goodbye to my first squad of Defenders.  They're now headed home to their families at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs.  

I also got to promote one of the new Defenders to the rank of Staff Sergeant.  That's a big deal in our Air Force because it's the first time they have the opportunity to supervise anyone.  That almost numbed the stress from the junk of the week.  Almost.  But that's why I put up with the junk -- to make a difference in the life of someone and see the smile on their face as they eagerly look forward to the new challenges ahead.  At the end of the day, it's all about the people.

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