Time in this deployed world is in dog-years. Tomorrow starts my 7th week and it feels like I’ve been here a year. Everyone and everything is moving so fast…it’s like the time-lapse before the Netflix show House of Cards…the sun rises and sets and days keep changing and you keep racing about from one intense situation to another. You lose track of what day of the week it is, you lose track of what time of the day it is, you can lose track of yourself if you let it. And in this time-lapse place you have to manage the situation of the moment while remaining focused on the “long term” priorities that must be done before your time is out…leaving what you inherited better than how you found it and helpful/useful for those who follow. Because when your time is up…you go off on a plane and the next guy jumps into the time-lapse universe because your out….and their in.
And then you talk to family at home or read about happenings on FaceBook and whoosh…you get pulled back to the world you know, but your just looking in. Seeing Mac for the first time on FaceTime this weekend did that to me…I’m looking in and talking to him…across the world. And then when you “hang-up” …zoom, your back in this universe.
Most of us deployed at this base arrived in the last 4-6 weeks. For me, I knew 2 other people before I arrived: Brian from my home station Hanscom, and my Commander (we worked together at Hanscom several years ago). But that’s it. For many to most military members, they deployed here with folks from there base or Guard unit. They have connections and relationship that are life-jackets. I really understand now why those “UTCs” are used by the military. (“UTC” is a Unit Tasking Component…actually I don’t know if that’s what that acronym stands for. But I can describe it…a cells of military folks who deploy with the skills and knowledge to support the mission.) Not only does this trained military team come out to pick up where the last rotation of folks left out, but they also know each other, and support each other, and even if they don’t work in the same area, they connect and hold each other up.
As a civilian, your on your own. I’m lucky I came out here with Brian and I know my commander, but that’s two out of the whole base. So you bond up quick. You learn to trust and become trusted fast. You hold on like tentacles that a vine sends out to climb a trellis. And you grow…fast with that rising and setting sun and lightning speed mission.
I’ll be here for 3.5 dog years and I’ll be leaving a pack of folks that will always be a part of me.