Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good News and Small Victories

Our replacements are in Kuwait! I have waited almost eleven months to be on the other end of that message; our replacements are in Kuwait. I have one of my guys down there to help them, train them, and escort them north to Iraq sometime soon. It is a relief. They are the relief. It’s almost time to go home.

I count the small victories over the past year. None more so than the four Soldiers I just sent home early so that they can start college on time. It was the cause that I got wrapped up in and fought to make happen. It wasn’t my idea to take credit for, but once the issue was brought to me it was clear that it made no sense to keep these Soldiers around during the time that they should be enrolled in classes. If we had been here another month I would have probably turned them down but this was just a matter of a few days. The Army wouldn’t miss them, but college would. For one Soldier it was his senior year of school and missing the fall semester requirements for the spring semester classes meant another year lost to gaining his degree.

Of course the first responses were, “No.” No justification, just, “No.” The Army is a big bureaucracy and NO is usually the first line of defense. However, asking the right person, the right way, at the right time led to the paperwork getting approved. It only took three months.

Aside from all of my Soldiers coming home safely; having never been shot at or blown up or hurt, this is a win for the little guys. In each of them there is promise; one will be a great NCO, the other will go to do good things as a teacher, one may even decide to be an officer through ROTC. My hope is that they remember back to this moment until they are in a time and place when they can help someone else. Pay it forward.

Their departure and the arrival of the new unit signifies the beginning of the end of the tour. We are preparing all of our continuity books and writing our after action reports for the tour. Work has indeed gotten busier, but busier in a good way.

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