Adventures From The Battlefield That Trained Me For Leading

Afghanistan war

Photo: wikipedia

You’re an infantry platoon leader, and your platoon is currently the Quick Reaction Force for most of Southeastern Afghanistan. This means you and your men sleep on the airfield in a hut next to three helicopters. These helicopters are always on, they hum through the night, ready to take you into a fight or to capture a bad guy. Your mission is to be in the air in 15 minutes or less ready to engage, and you’ve rehearsed this process down to a science. Your platoon runs like a well-oiled machine, your men are energized and you love every day the sun comes up (until the temperature climbs to 120).BINGO! BINGO! BINGO!

These words, announcing a mission, dominate your mind. They interrupt your time in the gym and stop your meals short. When other people hear the words squawk out of your walkie-talkie, and see you stuff a hot dog in your mouth and leave your tray, they know where you’re going.

That’s why you are surprised when CIA intelligence gives you a mission with three days notice. Three whole days!  Wow.You relax a little bit knowing this time you don’t have to plan the mission in the air, hoping everything doesn’t go to shit when you land. Of course, the enthusiasm soon wears off when you realise three days of planning means…..three days of planning. Get me in the air already!

Fast forward three days.

You look out of the back of the Chinook (often referred to as “shithooks” because they crash so much) and see the sun creeping over the horizon.

You feel very comfortable because your men are ready.  You’re also amused to see half of them eating loaves of fresh baked bread from the Italian camp you stayed at the night before. The Italians sure know how to fight a war, or at least eat through one.

Kali Jhan (your target, who has been coordinating and financing the killing of UN aid workers) should be getting ready to make his morning phone call to dole out the day’s missions to his underlings, and this is when you intend to drop by, say hi, and convince him not to do this anymore.

The pilot’s voice cuts into your earpiece – “Apache 1-6, this is Raven 6, touchdown in 2 minutes”

You hold two fingers up and scream down the line:  “TWWOOOO MINNUTTEESS!”

Everyone echoes your command. Bread loaves go away. Weapons lock and load. You look down the line at your platoon, and they look at you. Nothing else needs to be said.

A dust cloud blows up, the Chinook touches down, and you rush out first. “FOLLOW ME!”

Time to make a decision platoon leader:

To gather your men around, pop a bottle of champagne, and celebrate your landing: Read below (otherwise skip to the next paragraph)

You guys are stoked! The landing went well and you all sit in a circle pouring a bottle of carbonated apple-cider (no alcohol in a war zone!) As you’re chatting you look around and notice some silouhettes on the high ground around you. Maybe they are sheep herders who would like to join you and share some stories. Hmm, no, it looks like they’re an enemy platoon. You’re surrounded.

Don’t worry, there will be a next time….or will there?

To continue leading your men on the mission until it’s complete: Read below

Kali Jhan gets away, but you scored his cell phone! There are lots of phone numbers and contacts in there and intel is excited  At the end of the day, you take off into the setting sun knowing you’ll be back to find him another day, and there’s a full year of missions ahead.

(Stop by the D’Agostino Supermarket on York Ave between 79th and 80th from 3pm-9pm November 15-19 to meet the Gojee team, we’ll be there all week talking to customers and showcasing!)

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