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Deployment Journal: A strange encounter rekindles NCO responsibilities

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Capt. Mohamad Sadeq, ANA Judge Advocate General Corps, searches his crime scene investigation kit for the necessary tools to process forensic evidence during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA soldiers completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course Jan. 19, and learned crime scene processing and forensics, criminal code procedures, intelligence gathering, and other CSI skills during the course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Capt. Mohamad Sadeq, ANA Judge Advocate General Corps, searches his crime scene investigation kit for the necessary tools to process forensic evidence during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA soldiers completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course Jan. 19, and learned crime scene processing and forensics, criminal code procedures, intelligence gathering, and other CSI skills during the course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Capt. Mohamad Sadeq, ANA Judge Advocate General Corps, utilizes newly learned skills to document a fictitious crime scene during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA military investigators completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course Jan. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Capt. Mohamad Sadeq, ANA Judge Advocate General Corps, utilizes newly learned skills to document a fictitious crime scene during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA military investigators completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course Jan. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- An Afghan National Army military policeman dusts a mock M-16 rifle for finger prints during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Dusting for prints was one of many skills that 12 ANA officers learned during the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course, which graduated Jan. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- An Afghan National Army military policeman dusts a mock M-16 rifle for finger prints during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Dusting for prints was one of many skills that 12 ANA officers learned during the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course, which graduated Jan. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Abdul Zahir, ANA Criminal Investigations Command chief, bags evidence at a fabricated crime scene during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA soldiers completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course, where they learned to conduct proper investigations in support of their country. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Abdul Zahir, ANA Criminal Investigations Command chief, bags evidence at a fabricated crime scene during a training scenario at Camp Zafar, Herat Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2011. Twelve ANA soldiers completed the first-ever ANA two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course, where they learned to conduct proper investigations in support of their country. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

HERAT, Afghanistan -- The last two-and-a-half weeks were long, as I spent them in the field without a change of clothes or shower. I rectified that within minutes of arriving at Camp Stone, a base nearby my own in Herat Province, Afghanistan.

While awaiting a convoy to Camp Arena the next day, I happened across the team of Americans who train the Afghan National Army 207th Corps. Covering a story was the last thing on my mind at that moment, but what I learned had to go to print.

Earlier that week, 12 ANA military investigators completed the first-ever ANA comprehensive two-week Criminal Investigation Basic Course at an ANA base called Camp Zafar.

What they learned was like CSI - but for real!

The ANA investigators were trained on many aspects of crime scene investigation, and were excited to talk about their newly found skills.

The fact that I stumbled on the story was exciting, however, how I encountered that tale blew my mind.

The person who introduced the story to me came from a base a few miles from mine in England. She's now at a base a few miles from mine in Western Afghanistan.

To me this was a strange coincidence, but Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan, from Royal Air Force Lakenheath's Public Affairs office, stood before me none-the-less.

In fact, she took the photos of the CSI training, her husband works with me back at RAF Mildenhall, and I helped sort out some of her pre-deployment worries.

I'd forgotten about Airman Morgan's troubles with her deployment, and had absolutely no idea she was deployed less than 10 miles from my camp.

With a fresh shower and a clean uniform, the recent foot patrols, convoys and being shot at by insurgents seemed like a distant memory. I began to feel guilty for forgetting about a promise that I made while back in England.

I promised both Lausanne and Ethan (Morgan) that I'd make contact with Lausanne over here and make sure she was well.

Wrapped up in work, I'd forgotten that.

Destiny took its course and I was afforded the chance to make good on my promise, despite my own shortcomings.

This is her first deployment, and I'm happy that I'm nearby if she needs anything.

I'm pretty sure I'll head back out into the field soon as there are many Soldiers out at remote combat outposts, observation posts and fire bases who are doing amazing things and don't get much coverage for their efforts.

I've been completely focused on these Soldiers and am still committed to spotlighting them when and where I can.

Perhaps I need to spread my focus though.

You see, the strange meeting with Airman Morgan reminded me that, as servicemembers, relationships and taking care of junior Airmen is vital.

I'm here away from my family and friends, and am lucky that I can completely rely on my new comrades to watch my 6 o'clock while in the field. This is my third deployment though ... for me, this isn't new.

What about Airman Morgan?

This is her first deployment, with very little time in service, and she is so far away from her family.

From now on, I'll check up on her frequently and check in with my subordinates back at RAF Mildenhall more often, as well.

With each and every life experience, we should strive to make ourselves better. This week's lesson was taught by my own conscience, and I will do better.