Carrie* is a Attorney still serving the United States Military today. She has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. I loved seeing another different type of deployment as a lawyer overseas. I knew that there were groups training the Afghan National Army (ANA), but never thought that lawyers had that responsibility. Thank you for sharing your story and continuing to serve our country.
Rank during deployment:
Where did you deploy to?
What was you or your team’s mission?
Hearings for Iraqi detainees; working directly with and training the Afghan National Army (ANA) attorneys in Afghanistan.
What was your job?
What cultural differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
Clothing; food; was outside the base in both so in Iraq wore full kit and always nervous in public building. Had a hole in the ground for a bathroom.
In Afghanistan was only female so some men wouldn’t talk to me or shake my hand.
We had a hole in ground for toilet and had to go where men went. Drank chai every day.
What an interesting experience having to share bathrooms, when I was deployed we had male/female bathrooms, but they were flushing toilets or porta johns. What was the privacy like for your experience?
Somehow we made due with the situation. I think people back home don’t understand that sometimes a base doesn’t have the resources to have separate bathrooms so you just work with what you have. I never had a bad experience, but know that guys are disgusting, even more than I did before I deployed.
What landscape differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
Sandy in Iraq. Hills in Afghanistan.
Were there any particular foods that you ate while overseas that was different from the United States?
Chai; different meat seasonings; fruit in rice; eating with hands sometimes
As a female, do you remember being treated differently because of your sex, explain?
I was the only female American officer on Forward Operating Base (FOB) so [it was] hard to find friends; rumors would spread if you hung out with anyone because such a small place; no PX so had to have everything mailed in or go on long convoy just to replace shirts.
If you feel comfortable can you talk about the rumors? I know exactly what you are talking about because I was at a small FOB too. But I’d love for you to share your insight.
You have to talk to people because you can’t always be alone, you would go crazy. But it doesn’t matter what you do or how you try and protect yourself there are always a lot of rumors spreading about different people. I guess people have too much time on their hands. It was frustrating, but I tried to ignore it as best I could and ensured I wasn’t in compromising situations.
What was the hardest thing you faced with the cultural difference in the country you were deployed to?
I was the only female in Afghanistan who went to ANA legal schoolhouse daily so constant stares and [it took] longer to build trust; large gap times with mission for their religious days off and trouble with students arriving due to weather and dangerous roads so felt like little got accomplished sometimes; technology provided would wear out with no replacement (smart board) so felt like we weren’t helping them be self-sustaining.
Did you have any regular frustrating situations or a frustrating situation you can share about?
Gossip and loneliness
What is the one thing you remember most from your deployment?
Loyalty of the Afghans I trained and acceptance at end of year long tour. It took a long time to build the trust of the Afghans, but once I had it, it was pretty amazing their level of loyalty.
What question do you get when people find out you deployed?
Was it hard?
Today is day 16 of 31 Days of Deployment Stories. Check out the whole series here. Yesterday I talked about Cassie’s experience as a interrogator in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Tomorrow I will share another Spouse Spotlight: Preparing for Korea.
*name changed for privacy