Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A training vignette... addendum

I mentioned previously that I'd tried for a number of days to arrange to meet with the "person of influence" I was told I needed to speak to, prior to last Saturday's big military operation. The meeting never happened, so my part of that operation could not take place.

Oh well.

Now, faithful readers of the blog will have noted that I often mention the Army's mantra, "We train as we fight."

Nice sentiment.

I'm really getting an opportunity to learn what that means.

For example, in the spirit of "we train as we fight," yesterday I actually -- finally -- *did* meet with the "person of influence" I was supposed to chat with last week. Because I'm a non-combatant, I was accompanied by my Chaplain Assistant, SPC C, who sat in the room with us, his trusty weapon at his side.

That, for sure, is an example of how "we train as we fight," since he will accompany me to any such meetings I have while we're deployed.

The conversation was pretty interesting, seeing as we also had an interpreter in the room, who sat on the other side of me, and behind me. I tried to remember to look my counterpart in the eye while I was speaking, knowing that what I was saying at that moment would very soon be translated by my "terp" as they're commonly called.

A couple of times in the course of the forty-minute conversation, I talked a bit longer than I should have (is anyone surprised?) -- something which was pointed out to me by trainers at the end of the experience. Truth be told, though, the trainers found it hard to come up with negative stuff to say during the after-action review (AAR).

I think everyone in the room was a bit surprised that I'd brought a religious icon as a gift for my counterpart, who was (according to the script) a Serbian Orthodox priest. They were even more surprised that I was able to quote the recently-deceased Serbian Orthodox Patriarch, Pavle: "Wisdom will preserve us from wolves tearing us apart, and kindness will prevent us from turning into wolves."

It was actually an interesting and fun role-playing exercise.

And in the tradition of "we train as we fight," our conversation of Tuesday afternoon *actually* took place the previous Friday, so I'm now learning that time-travel is part of the Army arsenal.

(I wonder if I wasn't supposed to disclose this?)

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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