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How to fulfill an additional duty you may not know you have

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brian R. Baude
  • 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron
When I first deployed to this undisclosed location in Southwest Asia for a 179-day temporary duty in late 2007, I was told that my official duty title would be director of operations for the 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron.

However, upon arrival, I soon learned that I would have additional duties. While they are important to keep the mission going, additional duties are typically not glorious and are usually something we get "stuck with" because nobody else wants to do them. As it would turn out, my biggest additional duty would involve a lot of drinking.

No, I wasn't consuming hops and barley, but as the host nation liaison for the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group, my job was to liaise with the host nation personnel to build positive relations. This relationship served to increase communications and bridge the cultural gap which helped facilitate the execution of the air tasking order. This would entail face-to-face time with our hosts and as Middle East customs dictate, there would be lots of tea drinking.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive about interacting with our hosts. Growing up in East Windsor, Conn., I knew almost nothing about the culture of Arab people. Although, over a short amount of time, I realized that our host nation counterparts weren't that different from us. We both had family vacations to plan, spouses that liked shopping, children learning their English ABCs or Arabic ا ﺏ ﺕ, ‎sports teams we cheered for and aspirations for the future. We built not only a professional relationship, but also a personal bond of trust.

The coalition is strong because we are open to their perspective and they are open to ours. For all these reasons, I jumped at the chance to come back here again last Spring for a one year deployment to reunite with my host nation friends.

So, what does this have to do with you? Everything! First of all, each of you is also an ambassador of the United States. Whether you accept this additional duty or not, doesn't matter. While deployed overseas, you are an unknowing representative of your country. This applies whether you are in uniform on base or in civilian clothes downtown. It applies if you are in the military or a civilian. Everything you do shapes the perception that foreigners have of Americans. What you do and how you act either reinforces the American stereotypes or helps to change them.

Some of the world's knowledge of Americans comes from what they see on television or read in the newspapers. My challenge to you is to show the world what Americans are really like.

Be professional and strive to be a role-model person. Think of how you would act in front of your wing commander or the U.S. president. Showing respect for the local culture, not only reflects on you, but it reflects on your country. Your actions speak volumes.

I encourage you to take the time to learn about the culture, maybe even take the time to learn the language. Fill your "tea" cup with international knowledge. You might just learn something about others and hopefully you won't get the additional duty of washing the dishes too.

Editor's note: Major Baude will soon redeploy to the U.S. where he will be stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. we here will serve as the chief joint C-4 Intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance operations division.