This story comes from my deployment to Afghanistan in 2010:
Here is what is going on ‘work-related’. We got to go on a few missions over the past week. I went to Kohistan and Kohband to do inspections for schools and roads. I also went to meet with the Koband Sub Governor and we also went to the University to meet with the Kohistan Sub Governor and the director of the University. Both meetings were productive but didn’t really touch on anything related to Civil Engineering. I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) representative and I decided to have a side conversation during the meeting at Al Buroni because it was so not interesting. We would randomly chime in when needed, but oftentimes were talking about life back home. It was entertaining. I ended up leaving after the first meeting because the next meeting was focused on politics and government and I was not really needed. I waited in my vehicle for the second meeting to end.
Since there were no bathrooms and it was a really long day we had to make some arrangements so I could go. (This was the only mission I had to find arrangements for this, which is odd because it really wasn’t that long of a day, but likely sitting and waiting made me think about it to the point I had to do something) It ended up that a side of an MATV (combat vehicle) works great.
I also got to talk on the radio when we got inside the gate. (I want to explain how radio communication works in the trucks, within each truck you can talk to everyone in your vehicle without having to click any controls, just put on your headset and you are good to go, but if you want to talk to all the other vehicles, there are normally 4-6 vehicles on each mission you have to click a level and make sure your input is set to talk to other vehicles.) Normally when we get inside the gate the Truck Commander (TC) says “clear and on standby”, but my TC let me (more encouraged me) to get on the radio and say it this time. It surprised everybody on the convoy because they hadn’t heard a girl on the radio pretty much the whole deployment. As each truck enters the gate the command would go out and after my truck went through there was a bit of a pause before the next truck chimed in.
Interestingly enough I didn’t include the whole story when I sent this email home in 2010. While we were sitting in the truck waiting for the meeting to end the 4 guys in my truck started talking about how they would enjoy it if I talked on the radio. They came up with specific words needing to be in my radio commentary the main word being “hot.” They decided when we left Al Buroni they wanted me to come on the radio and say, “hot and jammin’”. This was the normal message said when we left each place to say the weapons were ready to go (locked and loaded) and the technology to jam frequencies was on, which helped to protect us from potential Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) that could be trigger through a signal. Well, I was too chicken to actually do it, I’m not sure if I was worried I would get in trouble or why I didn’t say it. So the TC came on the radio and said it and off we went. The whole ride back to base they talked about how I needed to talk on the radio. That is when the discussion of hot needing to be included came up. So they came up with the phrase of “We are no longer hot and jammin’” instead of “clear and on standby”. That was what I would say for the rest of the deployment when we would enter the gates.
Through this experience, I became very comfortable using the radio and was able to communicate better with the whole team. It started out as something fun that my truck did, but the guys probably never realized how important it was for me to know how to use the radio and have the confidence if I ever needed to. The guys on my Security Team took care of me and I felt protected.