14 October 2012

Week 14 from Afghanistan

I hope you had a good week. The longer I am here, the more the days blend together. As a staff officer, your efforts do not yield immediate fruit, and all you can hope for at this headquarters level is to make incremental progress each day.
I am thankful for opportunities I have had to work with and develop young people--that is likewise incremental, but it is wonderful to see folks you have worked with for a long time improve in capacity. We get to see that as parents, as members of the Priesthood in our callings, and professionally. In most of our field units in the states, we have a regular crop of new agents rotating in each year direct from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. They come in as "probationary agents" who have to accomplish a number of required on the job training experiences over the course of a year before they become fully accredited Federal Agents. Usually about 1/3 of our agents at stateside offices are filled by probationary agents. Since 9/11 we have had a pretty standard process of bringing these folks on board, giving them an intense professional experience during their probationary year, and then sending them off for about three months of advanced and pre-deployment training before we send them off to a unit performing a mission where they ply their trade against terrorist, insurgents and spies.
They hit the ground and don't stop for their whole 6 months--16-20 hour days in hazardous and austere conditions. By the time they come back from that, they are among the most competent agents in Federal Law Enforcement. I have been a commander four times; twice in the states, once in Turkey, and once in Iraq. Of all the things I have been able to do as a leader, one of my favorite has been to develop these probationary agents and prepare them to the very best of my ability to be ready for what they will face in a combat environment. In my units, we press them and challenge them to ensure they conduct their operations to as high a standard as possible, because once they are chasing Taliban or al-Qa'ida, the environment is unforgiving. I've got five folks from my ***** team deployed here throughout the country. I see the statistics for all the counterintelligence forces here in theater--Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force--and week to week it is our Air Force units that are taking most of the enemy off the battlefield. I got a note from one of my former probationary agents today. He is doing amazing work and is loving the opportunity he has to serve. Its great to see the folks you have worked so hard with move from a crawl to a walk and then off to a sprint.

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