Then the e-mail arrived.
Completely out of the blue, I’ve been requested for the Afpak Hands program. Details are sketchy at this point, but I expect to PCS this winter, then spent four months or so studying counterinsurgency and learning Pashto, Dari, or Urdu. Next summer I will deploy to Kabul for a year, then return to the U.S. for another year of study, then deploy again for a year.
I’m still in complete shock, because I never imagined this is what I would be doing. It’s ironic, because I have devoted my life to serving American national security, but I never imagined that would happen in Afghanistan or Pakistan. I simply saw no way that my career trajectory would intersect with those countries. In fact, several years ago I made a deliberate choice not to spend too much time learning about Afpak; thousands of other military officers were doing that, and I figured I could better invest my time and energy in learning about less-studied regions like the Levant. I was preparing for future conflicts, not this one. And now, suddenly, I have discovered that this is my war after all. I have a lot of catching up to do.
I will obviously share more details as they arrive. Also, I should mention right now that I’m not sure about my blog’s future. I am excited about this new journey, and I know that I will have so much to share, but I also know that this job might require a reduced online presence. We’ll see!