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Sailor's Story: Deployment winding Down!
by LTJG. Ryan Petrosky

Mar. 27, 2009

There is a common belief in the Navy that the most dangerous point in a ship's deployment is the final month of a 6 month deployment when the crew begins to relax and sailors' thoughts begin to focus on life back at home rather than finishing up the task at hand. Right now I find myself starting to transition into the idea of my Afghanistan deployment coming to an end while trying to maintain focus on completing the last couple months of my mission before returning home. In an effort not to jinx myself, I have been a little reluctant to mention in my write up the good news I received earlier this week. This past Tuesday, I received notification that my relief will be attending an abbreviated pre-deployment training program that will have her here in Afghanistan sometime in May as opposed to July. Commanding officers in all branches of the military are constantly challenged to find new ways to motivate their troops and maintain a high level of morale. There is no doubt that the idea of finishing a deployment early or the prospect of more free time at home is the surefire way to put some pep in the step of everyone from the most junior enlisted personnel to the senior officers in charge. This is the case for me and a group of about 15 other Navy personnel here at Camp Phoenix. We have all been leery of getting our hopes up right away, but after asking all the right questions to all the right people, I think we are all feeling more comfortable in informing friends and family back home of the news. I feel that either way it is a good topic to mention this month and even if whole plan changes sometime down the road, I suppose that will give me the opportunity to write about the agony of receiving bad news on deployment.

It's safe to say that not only is my personal time here reaching a significant transition point, but the entire U.S. military presence and the country of Afghanistan itself is about to approach some of the most important months in its recent history. As most people have read in the news by now, the President has approved an additional 17,000 troops to be sent here in the coming months. One of the most important tasks in sending new troops into combat is to have the mission objectives of the new troops in line with the overall strategic plan. Currently that is a huge undertaking for the senior leadership in country. Thousand of troops must be sent to the appropriate regions of the country (mostly the East, Central, and South) with the right equipment and the right plan for success. Once these new troops arrive and are sent to their respective locations, the Afghan National Security Forces will have an increased level of U.S. mentors to help train them to defend their land from insurgents. In addition to the influx of new troops, the election of a new Afghan President is also coming up later this year. Most people who follow the war in the states and abroad have their opinions of the current President, Harmid Karzai, but in reality, it is only the Afghans opinion that will determine the future of this country. Some people predict chaos and increased violence in his absence if he is defeated, while others think his replacement will result in lower corruption and Taliban influence throughout the country. It is not our place to make judgments, but it is our job to help the local Army and Police secure the safety of the Afghan people as they head to the polls later this year to participate in a democratic election.

Not only is my deployment to Afghanistan starting to wind down, but my active duty Naval career will also be coming to an end upon my return to the states. This is just one more thing that adds to the level of distraction here while needing to stay focused on my current job. I can remember back in my first month here in country being completely frustrated with my level of understanding of the operations here as compared to serving in the fleet. I made a comment to my boss at the time that I would apparently be an Afghan National Police expert by the time my deployment was finished even though it seemed completely unreasonable at that point. As it turns out, I do feel like I know as much as almost anyone in this country about the Afghan Police, their training and development, and the future of their progress. I'm looking forward to passing on some of my knowledge to my relief and letting her carry the torch for the next year.

This month's entry is a little shorter than what I normally like to write for these articles, but I am going to wrap it up for this month. Next month I plan to write more about the sequence of events involved in returning to the states from a long deployment overseas and the tedious process of discharging from the Navy and transferring back into civilian life.

LTJG Petrosky


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