The clock seems to tick slower as the end of the deployment comes into sight.First Lt. Andrew Plucker is deployed to Afghanistan. He is not an Army spokesman, and his updates from the field are written from his personal perspective as a soldier.
While I still have three months left here in Afghanistan, I am finally able to see a glimpse of the end. I see how easy it would be to merely become complacent and lose any sort of "give-a-damn" that I have left.
Fighting against these urges is what I think remains the most difficult part at this point in the deployment. The strangeness that every day brings here at the 2nd BDE ANA Headquarters, however, is what helps keep my sanity.
I have shaken the hands of a lot of different people since I came over to work with the Afghan National Army. Upon entering a room here in Afghanistan, the customary thing to do is shake the hand of everybody in the room.
I was at a meeting at what is called the Operations Coordination Center, which is basically a place where the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and the Afghan Border Police are able to synchronize their operations. We have an intelligence meeting there and usually each organization has a representative. I entered the room and began shaking everybody's hand.
As I shook the ANP representative's hand, I noticed something did not feel quite right. Instead of the typical four fingers one feels when they shake hands, I felt only three. I noticed that he was missing his right index finger; a tragedy, I supposed, of the price it costs for some folks to vote.
I met an ANA soldier the other day who is a part of the 3rd Kandak, which is the Kandak that just rotated out of the Pesh River Valley.
The name of this soldier is Sharif; the other day, I passed Sharif on the way from the 2nd Brigade Headquarters to our FOB.
He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. On it, somebody who understood English wrote, "Soap and Toothpath, Brush, Towlet." He had a big grin on his face and nodded his head up and down as if I understood what he needed. I understood clearly and replied, "I got you."
I scrounged through my tub of toiletries in my room and found an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap. The next day I walked around with the toiletries in my cargo pocket anticipating running into Sharif at some point.
Finally, toward the end of the day, I saw him walking toward the headquarters building so I yelled out to him. He came over with a big smile and happily took what I had to give him saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
I thought I would be done with Sharif, but I was wrong. Two nights ago I was once again walking back to the FOB when I ran into Sharif and one of the NCOs I work with in the S2 shop, Bakhtiar.
Maj. Rahmdil, Bakhtiar's boss, has always told me that the non-alcoholic Beck's beer that they serve in our dining facility is good for his kidneys.
While I am no doctor, this statement seems to be a little suspect. Nevertheless, I am sure he has told his NCOs this as well.
When I passed Bakhtiar, he said, "Beer, good for Muslim. You bring, yes." I totally understood what he meant, so I went over to our dining facility, grabbed a few Becks and then meandered back out to the S2 office. I spent the rest of the evening shooting the breeze with Bakhtiar and Sharif over some fine non-alcoholic beers. While it was a scene one would not expect to see in Afghanistan, I found humor and oddness in the whole ordeal.
It was a relatively quiet week once again on the operational side. One of my friends that is in a distribution company hit an IED on a road that I have traveled on quite often; fortunately, they did not sustain any serious injuries.
I talked to him this morning and he told me his company told him that he shouldn't go out on the road anymore because he brings bad luck.
They sustained enemy contact three different times on the trip they were on to deliver supplies up north.
Overall, I am doing well and trying to soak in the strangeness of this place as much as I can.
Every day seems to bring something new and interesting to my life. Home is never far away from my thoughts. Thank you for the continued prayers and support. Take care and God Bless!