MIKE T GUEST BLOGGER: A glimpse into being an Afghanistan ETT in 2008

This is the first blog entry from a Guest Blogger. This posting is from Mike T, who is currently serving as an ETT downrange in Afghanistan facing enemies every day. Mike was one of dozens of soldiers that contacted me while I was in Afghanistan asking for insight, information and anything I could provide in order for him to be prepared for his own tour. I have stayed in constant contact with Mike and he agreed to start blogging here. There is a new category in this Military and Afghan blog that will be named Mike T blogs, so you can easily find his. I have another entry of his coming out tomorrow. For those of you who have been reading this yearning for updated news from the front…here you go.

Well we finally have dry ground and the snow has seemed to retreat back to the mountains only. We are running a lot of operations at night, which to me is just fine. I enjoy the night work more so then day ops (operations). I figured I would write to you about the teams. In my short time here, I have heard many Team Chiefs talk about how our ETT/PMT’s (Embedded Training Teams / Police Mentoring Teams) are more like SF (Special Forces) teams or LRSD (Long Range Surveillance Detachment) teams more so then anything else.

This is all great and dandy, but what is failed to be realized unless you have worked in that environment or any other type of small element are a few key items;
One, the rank structure is fluid and more personable. People do not run around so much worrying about calling each other by their rank, but concern themselves with getting the job done and done right. Also, that make up relies heavily on the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) core more so then the officers. Yes, the officers plan and make sure the execution goes right, but the experienced NCO’s make up the bulk load. More importantly, most of those types of teams have years and years of MOS (Military Occupational Skill) and real-world operational experience. I am not bashing this, I am a product of small teams and prefer them much more then the platoon or larger sizes. I like to call people by their first name, as it is a higher form of respect then someoneÂ’s rank. I understand the Army rules, trust me! If you want to run your team like this, then realize that these are some things you will encounter.

I have been deployed before, but I have never worked with these guys that I am teamed up with now. Of course there was a time of adjustment and feeling each other out. I call my boss “Sir” at all times because he deserves it, but he also refers to me by my nickname or first name on occasion, the rest of the team calls each other by their first names. I am writing about this because if you have never dealt with this mentality it is a bit of an adjustment. I find the teams that can be fluid and “play the game” when needed are more successful than those who think this is regimental concept, there just isnÂ’t time for that here. We are always hurting for more guys and more equipment. We have little time for the nonsense. When you come to Afghanistan and are assigned, realize that this is a hard environment to measure success in. Having a team that is close and can rely on each other, even in the simplest of matters…YOU ARE A SUCCESS. If you are one who believes they are going to change the attitudes here or win the GWOT (Global War on Terror) during your rotation, then you need to sit on the FOB (Forward Operating Base) and not go outside the wire. There is no room for fantasies. Understand, listen, and most of all when itÂ’s your time in the batterÂ’s box do what you can and get home safely. The word is that we are about 18 months behind with the Police here, and that is being very generous. Success is measured in centimeters with this job. It is hard to focus on the positive here, but a solid team with the understanding that we are only here for a short time will only benefit you.

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