Today I spent my last hour at work sitting in the office waiting for an email. This was the long and boring, slow and painful conclusion to an especially busy day in which I managed (despite concentrated and earnest effort) to do absolutely nothing significant in support of the mission.
The day started like it always does with our 0800 meeting where we discuss points to bring up at the 0915 meeting. We finished the 0800 meeting just in time to go to the 0830 meeting where we sit and listen to the garbled audio track from a powerpoint brief being given in some other briefing room. That meeting ran a bit long, so we had to push back our 1000 meeting where we discuss what each of us will be submitting for inclusion to our two-page weekly report. Since I mentioned that I had nothing significant to add to the report, I was ordered to come back at 1600, no, wait, 1700, with all of my source materials so we can invent something interesting for me to write about.
After over an hour of trying to sort out what the 1000 meeting which started at 1045 was supposed to be about, I rushed over to cram in another bland meal. Today's menu was chicken (I think) nuggets and a variety of less appetizing options. Once I'd swallowed enough calories to be sure I wouldn't starve before dinner I rushed back to the office to present an overview brief of my area of responsibility to the new boss. The brief was supposed to be presented in our office, so I spent a few minutes cleaning off my desk and prepping for the arrival of this new brigadier general I'm going to work for.
Then it turns out he wants to be briefed in his own office. No problem, but there's not enough room in there to fit all of us, so we have to go one at a time. My brief was designed (as ordered) to take up twenty minutes or less. I was to be the second briefer. The first briefer started twenty minutes late and took well over an hour (not his fault). Based on the boss's schedule, that gave me twelve minutes to give my own presentation.
I was done in nine minutes. I'm a fan of efficiency.
Once my part of that brief was over it was time to wait around for another brief about an upcoming trip I've put together. That was slated to begin at 1600, but because of a few SNAFUs it got pushed back to 1630. Then I got a winning bit of tasking which could be paraphrased as "someone is going to visit PRT X, so I need you to give me all of the latest information you have on it." The latest information turned out to be well over a year old and mostly incomplete. So that started the scramble to call everyone I could all over the eastern quarter of the country to find an up-to-date version of what's going on in this particular province so that VIP Random could have something to read before he goes to visit the province himself.
Then comes the fun part. It turns out the information I need is available for the asking. The problem is that the guy that has it is only capable of sending it on a US-only secret computer network. Fortunately I have access to this network. Unfortunately the rest of NATO (to include VIP Random) does not. So I've got to go and beg some dude out in the field to stop what he's doing and send me the info. Then I've got to go beg one of the few folks authorized to make transfers from the US system to the NATO system to stop what she's doing so I can get this file transferred. Then I get to sit in my office an wait for her to read through the entire thing, verify that there's nothing in there too secret to share with our NATO allies here in Afghanistan and forward it back to me.
So after a combined eleven hours of charging around I managed to make no decisions, complete no work, and provide nothing at all in the way of progress towards stability in Afghanistan. I hate this place.