Dear Family & Friends,
The highlight of this past week had to be our Easter dinner. All of the guys (except for MSG Bitt, more on that later) got together at a table that we had reserved in the mess hall. After a great meal, SPC "Tato" Maritato presented everyone with Easter baskets that his Mom, Cindy, had sent over for us. The treats were great and really appreciated, but the plush, camoflauge-pattern baskets turned out to be the real treat. (See picture picture.) Boys being boys, they instantly became the newest thing for us to play with. Thank you Maritato Family!
As I mentioned, MSG Bitt was unable to join us because he is working for us over at Camp Blackhorse as the Brigade's Liaison Officer (a.k.a., LNO). He is off to a great start, and is representing us extremely well. It can be a tough job, especially when the Army tradition is to assume that naturally your higher headquarters is all messed up.
Today the French ETT arrived here at Camp Dubs. They are a 49-man team that will be taking over responsibility for one of our Afghan battalion. (The team that is currently in that role is going to be reassigned.) They bring a lot of capabilities to our team including a doctor and EMTs, more personnel for the Security Force, and additional radio operators for our Operations Center. Their English is good, but not perfect, so I imagine that we will have to go through an adjustment period. They are all professional soldiers -- paratroopers, in fact -- with a lot of deployment experience, and we are happy to have them on the team.
We are also expecting another US ETT that will be assigned to another one of the Afghan battalions. With their arrival, our manning will be where it needs to be in all of the battalions, and close to what is required to run the headquarters. We had been working understrength since our arrival. I should have more news on them next week.
This coming week, in addition to the normal training and meetings, we will be putting the French through our orientation training program. The weather has been great and the temperature is getting warmer, so the training and our operations should go well. Also at the end of next week, the ANA Brigade will be doing a Sports Day that we helped them plan. Each Kandak (battalion) is fielding teams for several different events with ETTs on each team. It will be a fun day. Best Wishes,
GEORGE M. SCHWARTZ
1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)
I forgot to mention in my previous note that although the active duty Army has announced that it is extending tours, this does not affect Reserve Component Soldiers at this time.
The National Guard has plans to limit total mobilization time to one year (so the time spent in training counts towards that year too), but at this time, we are still on a one year tour.