What do I do?

Well, it’s been already a little over 3 months since I arrived in Kabul, and I am finally putting my fingers to the keyboard to update this blog on my work to date.  I was asked to explain a bit about what I do here as with most military terms, giving a job title may not mean much to many.  My official title is Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communication.  Two deputies?  Isn’t that confusing?  Well no, Deputy DCOS COMM just means that I am the next in line to the actual DCOS COMM, who is a US 2-star general.  In terms of Communication, we are responsible for coordinating and putting into effect messaging plans that help our mission.  Given that I am not a public affairs specialist, (I am an engineer) I am learning new jargon everyday and I am understanding how important it is that we all communicate the same message, whether it is to our Afghan partners or to our national capitals.

It was a steep learning curve for me, and one where I wondered what I could possibly contribute given I had a limited background in this area of work.  Luckily I found a niche, and the more I learn the more I have to offer.  Our days are long, anywhere between 14 and 16 hours, except for Friday mornings where we can start a few hours later.  Even with these hours, I manage to get some work-outs in as I believe that keeping fit is one reason we are able to put in such long hours.  The food is ok, the weather hot, the accommodations fine, and given we are relatively safe here in Kabul compared to our other Canadian friends in Kandahar, we have next to nothing to complain about.

Lately I have been particularly busy as both my boss is away as is the ISAF Spokesman – fortunate for me as I get to do both their jobs….  Being the DCOS isn’t so bad, but being the ISAF Spokesman on short notice (more on that later) has been more challenging.  I am not new to being in front of the camera, but this normally happens because I know the subject at hand and the message that we want to impart.  There is so much going on here – all you have to do is read the paper or listen to the news – so to be completely up to date on all subjects is a bit difficult.  I’ve had a number of interviews, done a press conference and a round table.  I have to admit, were it not for this opportunity, I wouldn’t be as up to date on what is going on in this theatre.  It has been interesting, especially when I get to speak about the progress we are making on the ground, the glimpses of hope I see in Afghans and when I get to tell about success stories where normal people do amazing things.  In fact I had the distinct pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the Afghan National Youth Conference a few weeks ago, and I was genuinely impressed with the level of desire and hope that is resident in the young – and half the conference participants were young women!

On a more personal side, the reason I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been to become the spokesman on short notice is because my husband Ian suffered a heart attack in early Aug and I had to head home.  We are truly fortunate as members of the Canadian Forces because I was able to go home.  I have to admit, this was hard – but the support to both myself and my family was wonderful and heartfelt.  He is doing well now, and we are looking forward to when I can see my family at my first R&R early November and we can spend time together in a more relaxed environment.

My thanks to all of you who support our Canadian Forces, to which I am a proud member.  Take care, until the next time!

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