May 24, 2012

MPAAT rolling out…

by Tech. Sgt. Barbara Plante
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

Tech. Sgt. Barbara Plante, Mobile Public Affairs Team NCO-in-charge, mentors Sergeant Jumannor Zazy, 215th Maiwand Corps Public Affairs NCO-in-charge, on PA operations with the help of the team linguist Massoud Azeraksh. Plante is from Arizona, a reservist with the 944th Fighter Wing and the chief of community relations for the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB in her civilian capacity. She was mobilized and has been deployed to Regional Support Command Southwest Afghanistan since December 2011.

It’s really hard to believe my mobile public affairs team and I are at the end of our deployment here to Camp Leatherneck in Southern Afghanistan. It has been an exciting, fast paced and unique deployment for all of us. Now that it is almost over, it seems like just yesterday we landed here tired, anxious and ready to work. Living on a Marine base and working for the Army has had its own challenges for this all Air Force team. We have met some great people and served with some awesome members from our sister services and coalition forces.

During our time here, we taught basic public affairs lessons in video, media, journalism, and public affairs operations and advanced photo techniques. We implemented a “train the trainer” program in order for the 215th Maiwand Corps, our Afghan counterparts, to be able to teach new soldiers and their outlying brigades as they continue on with their mission. The team helped the Afghans create a weekly newsletter and provided basic computer training to help them with this task. We assisted them in developing command messages and had them sending out timely news releases several times a week telling their story to the Afghan public. Most importantly, we built some really special relationships and met some wonderful people while here we will miss mentoring and working with all the Afghan National Security Forces members we came in contact with.

Looking back through our six months here we would like to reminisce and share a few things with everyone.

Things we will miss: Packages from home, USO shows, caramel frappes from the Green Been, tax free pay, daily PT, Sunday brunch with omelets, sweet potato fries, Rocky, Yamma, and all the other interpreters who worked with our team and made our mission possible. The ANSF members that we trained and worked with, most especially Crazy Zazy, and the all Regional Support Command professionals that we have met here.

Things we will not miss: Mice in the classroom, using bottled water to brush our teeth, dust, showering with our shoes on or walking 300 yards to the bathroom at midnight when nature calls, carrying a long gun, no cell phone reception, no happy hour, working seven days a week, Sunday night building cleaning parties, and last but most important being away from our loved ones who supported us from afar.

Sayings we won’t forget: “You know what I’m saying?,” “What’s on the schedule boss?,” “DFAC 5 or 6?,” “Come on Meow,” “Clear, Clear,” “You’re killing me smalls!,” “Whose got the radio?,” “It’s not innuendo Wednesday!,” “It’s like Groundhog Day,” and “You need to be nice!”

I had great people to work with that made being away from home a little less stressful and my deployment in a joint environment more enduring.

Home this is MPAAT … We are leaving Leatherneck for home station … Roger- OUT.

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