Tuesday, August 17, 2010


One of the best (and sometimes, worst) things about being stationed at a NATO headquarters base is the amount of visitors we get. There is a lot of attention from the U.S. and international community on our progress, ability to meet training goals and of course, now the pressure to meet withdrawal deadlines, so we are constantly receiving distinguished visitors. Everyone from U.S. senators to movie stars to foreign leaders have made their way through Camp Eggers.

While this can be exciting at times, it can also mean a lot of planning, preparation, rehearsal’s, last minute schedule changes and a lot of waiting. People get very nervous when there are VIP’s involved, so of course, there is the rolling out of the red carpet, so to speak.

Some days we are hopping from event to event or in the case of a recent visit from Undersecretary of Defense for Police, Michele Flournoy, pooling our staff to cover a tour. During her visit to Afghanistan (her second since I’ve been here), Flournoy went to the Kabul Military Training Center, where the Afghan National Army runs their basic training program. The tour was designed to show Flournoy the progress being made at the training center, both with meeting the recruitment and training goals for the ANA and with improving the overall quality in training. At each stop, she took time to ask trainees, both men and women, about their experiences and why they personally joined. It was a crazy tour with multiple photographers assigned to capture every stop, including arrival and departure … its times like these when we joke that we’re the paparazzi.

Over the Fourth of July, several congressional delegates - Senator John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman – came to Eggers where they helped promote and present awards to several servicemembers. I know this was a huge treat for those who were personally recognized and for all of those who were able to meet and speak with their elected leaders. These Senators serve on the Senate Armed Forces Committee and help shape policy on everything from our military benefits to Department of Defense policy.

Sometimes it can be frustrating working these DV (distinguished visitor) events, especially when you’d rather be shooting (that’s taking pictures folks, not actual shooting) the behind the scenes things – Afghan security forces training and development – that are making a difference. It is that foundation building that will eventually let us leave this country and what the American and international community’s need to see. I try to temper that frustration by remembering that it is through these visits, the public will learn about what we are doing here. Getting to meet them personally doesn’t hurt either.

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