Monday, November 23, 2009

COMISAF on Board

It was a cool damp day on Camp Shaheen. Camp Shaheen is the Afghan National Army camp of which Camp Spann is only a small part. Usually I spend nearly all my time on Camp Spann, but not today. Today I was to standby in case a brief was needed about my mission here. In the early morning there was snow on the mountains in the distance. I really wished that I had brought my gloves or put on some long underwear.

I saw the German helicopters come in low and fast. It was a few minutes until the buses arrived. The Afghan honor guard came to attention and was inspected. He spent quite a while talking with the Afghan Corps commander and his staff. Then he was led to the HEAT trainer. This is exactly the same set up I had to go through in Ft Riley, where you practice rollover drills in an armored HMMWV. The Afghan soldiers who were going through it were laughing as much as I was when I did it. Then I actually got a look at him as he discussed issues with local Afghan Army basic training commander. Shortly after this I had the honor of shaking the hand of General McChrystal as he boarded the bus back to the heli pad.

From my observations I can confirm the descriptions of him we see in the press. He was humble and respectful. Over 90% of his time was spent talking with Afghans, as is only correct in a counter insurgency(COIN) situation. He listened much more than he talked, but when he did ask a question it was always pertinent, succinct and to the heart of the matter. He had a ease about him and was quick to smile.
Also touring with him was the Deputy Commander for Nato Training Mission- Afghanistan, Major General Ward, of the Canadian Defence Forces. Our little two man team falls under his command. He cheerily introduced himself while sitting on the bus with me. He asked where I was from and what my mission is here in Afghanistan. I talked with him about the ANP medical system and what we are doing to assist infrastructure and first responder casualty training for the ANP. He listened and was very kind in shaking my hand has he headed off to the helicopters as well. It is not an every day occurrence to have the Commander of ISAF and several other Generals all on board Shaheen at the same time.

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