NCSA folks in NTM-A, from left to right: Primo Maresciallo Claudio CANTARUT (ITA Army ), A2 Tommaso MARFELLA (ITA NIC), IT1 Kevin M. DAVIS (US Navy), Captain João Pedro Oliveira VICENTE (POR Army), SPC Erika Y. MACIAS (US Army), IT2 Darryl DANGERFIELD (US Navy), A2 Paul WELLENS (BEL NIC), Sergeant Giannantonio MENEGOLI (ITA Navy).
Sometimes it happens to a service member employed in a mission abroad to imagine what the experiences will be that they are going to live; which emotions, who they will meet, and what they will share.
Hearing that the next assignment would be in Afghanistan, I'm sure that everyone had concerns and wondered what would happen to them when they deployed. I guess this was the mindset of those NCSA guys who left their duty stations at the end of last year.
I imagine that even those who came to SHAPE for the first time, as happened to many of us, will immediately perceive the difficulties of Afghanistan and all the contradictions. Probably for this reason, even for NCSA staff that left their "comfortable” base, the search for a "family" dimension became a necessity.
As often happens to members of foreign nations who meet together abroad, the NCSA group has informally recognized itself as family, despite their different backgrounds.
Getting used to Afghanistan has not been easy. They came together well on a personal level. But, adjusting professionally to an environment like Afghanistan has had some challenges, since the group was designed for a base like SHAPE.
On paper, the group's mission contributes to the transition from the American lead mission CSTC-A (Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan) to NATO control, but in reality we have had to deal with a "natural" reticence due to the many activities undertaken and ongoing, lead by CSTC-A during the years since its inception to today.
The new NATO mission, NTM-A, has started however, and with the contribution of the NCSA team has achieved important objectives aimed at "Enabling the Communication Information System (CIS) to meet current and future requirements in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA). Develop CIS personnel of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) to build enduring institutions of self-reliant, accountable professionals. Coordinate communications capabilities in order to enable NTM-A/CSTC-A strategic, operational and tactical goals.”
The completion of the training centers around the Kabul area, and especially WARDAK the biggest training center in Afghanistan, have had great international significance.
The NCSA team at Camp Eggers consistently achieved superior results due to their espirit de corps and dedication to their mission and recognizing the vital role they play as part of an "organization that provides communications services in Afghan territory”.
Though the members of the NCSA team come from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds they have come together as a team of professionals and have ensured that all support required by the war-fighter is available.
There were constant discussions with NCSA leadership present at ISAF headquarters concerning the difficulties described above and to research useful solutions for the welfare of the staff and the success of the mission objectives.
We have had to continually clarify why we are present in Afghanistan and what tasks we are there to perform based on our job description.
Often what happens in reality is different from the theory expressed in the orders, for various reasons. From this perspective, the NCSA team has shown its important contribution by adapting and providing flexibility and professionalism demanded by the operational needs of the field and the austere environment of Afghanistan while at the same time remaining realistic in achieving the objectives assigned.
Ultimately the deployment is a positive life experience that has to be seen in its entirety. Their experience has provided them with opportunities for personal and professional growth leading to greater flexibility and individual awareness of their future possibilities and growth in their professional lives.
What more can be said for the benefit of the individual and consequently for the group and the organization?
The return home and to their personal lives for the NCSA members will demonstrate to them how their experience in Afghanistan has enriched their life. Just as anyone who observes and listens to the environment around them, the NCSA team members have faced the complex and demanding environment of Afghanistan with strength and humility.
Kabul, AFGHANISTAN June 30, 2011