11 October 2011

I Feel Numb

I am officially in a funk. It's Groundhog Day. Wake up. Brush my teeth. Eat one Fig Newton. Go for a run. Come back to my room. Put on a PT jacket (to hide the fact that I'm sweating, which is prohibited in the DFAC). Grab a weapon. Hustle to the DFAC. Get breakfast to go. Return to my room. Walk to the shower. Eat breakfast while I'm getting ready for work. Walk to the trucks.

Convoy through Kabul. Arrive at work. Drink tea and have meetings. Convoy back to our base. Waste an hour or two wondering when it's time to eat dinner. Eat dinner. Shower. Talk to Rob. Watch one 42-minute TV show. Go to sleep.

Wake up. Repeat. Again. And again. And again. The weather doesn't really change. The meetings don't really change. And the feeling of lack of progress doesn't really change. The only thing that changes is that I tend to watch a different TV show most nights (Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, The Good Wife and Glee are the current favorites).

It's easy to catch a case of complacency under these circumstances, and complacency is the most lethal disease any of us can contract out here. I'm fighting it. Or trying. But that's harder than it sounds.

Driving to work feels a lot like playing a video game, especially lately. It's easy to imagine that we're safely buckled into an amusement park ride and that nothing can hurt us because, well, nothing has for a very long time. And when things keep going right, it's equally easy not to worry about how we'd respond if things went wrong. I'm about to become wildly unpopular because I'm about to simulate things going wrong...twice a week...at unexpected places and times.

The Army calls this simulated combat phenomenon "Battle Drills." It's a perfect concept...pretend you're reacting to an emergency before you are actually in an emergency. Watch how people respond so that we know how people may act in an actual scenario.

Here's the part that will blow your mind. Out here it's easy to forget we're in a combat zone...we hear the same intelligence reports every day, listen to the same warnings, wake up in the same city, roll along the same roads...and we just have to think that everything will be okay. And we do that because that's the only way to make it through the days...and weeks...and months. And because if we actually thought every day about all of the threats out here, we'd probably never get out of bed.

So starting tomorrow, I'm shaking things up...again. Sure, that's going to be scary for all of us (even me). But in the end, when my job is to get myself and my entire team back to our families safely, it's important to wish for the best and to prepare for anything.