Learning by the firehose method

Mahmood Raqi Bazaar -- Me, relaxing a bit outside the wire. (The person taking the picture is my replacement!)
Mahmood Raqi Bazaar — Me, relaxing a bit outside the wire. (The person taking the picture is my replacement!)

Have you ever heard the term “drinking water through a firehose?” A fire hose shoots out massive amounts of water at a high rate of speed … so much so, it’s impossible to contain all the water that comes out of it (much less drink from it to quench a thirst.)

The military often passes along information using the firehose method. We force-feed a ton of information to the student in a short amount of time. And, like a firehose shooting water, it’s almost impossible for all of the information to be retained, much less understood. But, it has to be done. And, if the student is better-than-average, they may retain a lot.

Today, I met with my replacement. She, like me, is an Air Force Public Affairs Officer by trade, who has been tasked to serve as an Information Operations Officer with PRT Kapisa here in the ‘stan. Also like me, she received three months of “AAAARMY training, sir” at Wonderful Camp Atterbury. (And, like me, she had a less-than-wonderful experience.)

We’re still at Bagram while the incoming team takes care of some administrative details. So, I took some time to show her around the air field, and introduce her to some of the public affairs and information operations contacts I interact with at Bagram. We visited the offices of the Combined Joint Task Force 82, the offices for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, the offices at Task Force Cyclone and the Bagram media center. It was a lot for one day, but since we’ve got limited time, the firehose method will have to do.

As we talked about her new duties, I could sense that she feels the same way now that I felt when I first came to the ‘stan. I sensed her anxiety … I assume she’s wondering how she’ll juggle so many pieces of the information operations puzzle (just like I wondered about it.)

I assume she’s wondering if she’ll be safe.

I assume she’s wondering how to be successful, or how to keep other people from venturing into her lane. (For some reason, the good-idea fairy LOVES to butt his nose into the Information Operations realm, because, apparently, my job is SOOOO easy, ANYONE can do it!) *sarcasm intended.*

I did my best to communicate to her my experience. I told her how I go outside the wire with the Provincial Reconstruction Team. I also told her how I use radios to help keep Afghans in touch with what the coalition is doing.

I told her about the fun times I had during my time here; I told her the good things about being deployed to the ‘stan.

Not wanting to squash her enthusiasm, I didn’t offer up the bad parts. I’m not hiding anything from her … But, if she’s getting firehosed with information, I figure she could benefit most from hearing useful and positive information, rather than negative information that doesn’t do anything to help her.

Of course, if she asks me about the bad parts of being deployed to the ‘stan, I’ll tell her the truth.

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