"I had an opportunity to travel again this week and met with teams that work tirelessly to identify, exploit and neutralize insurgent networks. These folks in the fight work 18-20 hour days in the worst conditions imaginable, from greatly exposed positions to destroy the Taliban networks that threaten enduring peace in Afghanistan. One of the teams I visited was led by a young Major that I have worked with in the past. If you met him back in the States, you would see a clean cut, good decent man, a born leader. He has been here for just over four months, just a third of the way through; you can see the toll that the mission has taken on him. The folks that work for him come in at a dead sprint for six month rotations, while he and his superintendent serve a year. As we talked about his need to balance out mission and health over the yearlong marathon he has to run, he told me that it was an easy thing to say, but that as the commander of these men, he didn't feel right about getting extra sleep or taking time out for himself when his guys were in harms way. He is out on every mission with them.
"Two of the agents on this Major's team worked for me at (former AFB). I had dinner with them and talked to them about their experiences here. These are two of the finest young men I have had the privilege of working with in my career. They came to my unit at (former AFB) straight from the best law enforcement training in the world, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center-FLETC. All federal agencies train there--the US Marshals, Secret Service etc (all but FBI and DEA). They came out of school excited to do the mission and hit the ground in (former city where AFB is) ready to work. Over two years they ran some of our most significant cases, to include the Air Force's leading undercover operation targeting criminal networks involved in the theft and resale of high end military property. They worked some pretty long hours back there and gained significant experience. After two years of that we pushed them through a pipeline of training to get them ready for deployment to Afghanistan. As I said, these are some of the most talented young people I have worked with. They been well trained and prepared. They have been here about two months, conducting source operations into Taliban networks, and driving capture/kill operations against the enemy. What they told me at dinner was that when they first started working with the team here, after the first couple weeks of non-stop outside the wire operations, they both nearly broke down--they asked themselves how they could possibly function like this. They questioned whether they were up to the task, whether they had the right training, experience, and endurance to possibly survive this experience. Now it is all just part of their standard routine. They are one of the most respected teams in country--there is nothing standard about it."