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Getting over the hump

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jordy C. Ward
  • 361 ERS Superintendent
It's seems like yesterday, I was gazing at the "Welcome to Kandahar" sign hung on the wall of the inbound pax terminal. I remember thinking to myself the challenges that lie ahead and what my future would hold for my tour. I made a pact to stay focused on the mission at hand, be patient and positive, and put my best effort forward to complete my mission. It's seemingly easy to stay focused and put my best foot forward but the biggest challenge was staying patient and positive. There are many unique challenges here at Kandahar that can cause a loss of patience and positivity. Some examples that immediately come to mind are: crowded living conditions, lines at the DFACs, high ops tempo and extreme weather conditions. All of these stressors can easily make or break a successful deployment. The best way to combat these stressors is to accept them, get into a good routine and stay active.

It took me a couple of months to get into a routine and become proficient at my newly assigned duty. Along the way, I faced some challenges that could have easily made my tour difficult for my remaining time but I kept reminding myself of the pact I made the first day I arrived. During my third and fourth month, I was in my groove and had my routine down cold. This is known as the "hump" of the deployment cycle. It's when you're settled in and performing is at optimum levels. It is historically difficult for subordinates to stay on track and finish strong and for leaders to keep their unit's morale high and mission focused once they're over the hump. Complacency and "get home-itis" demons start to creep in which, in turn, affects performance, morale and unit effectiveness. It's easy to point these things out but the challenge is to figure out how to combat these attitudes. It's natural to miss loved ones and think of home but when it comes to duty you must compartmentalize these thoughts. When you're off duty, communicate with your loved ones often and keep yourself busy. There are many ways at Kandahar to keep you busy: Professional organizations (First Four, 5/6, & Top 3 councils), volunteerism, education opportunities, and social activities. The key to success is to keep busy, motivated, and positive. Before you know it, you'll be standing at the doorway of the outbound pax terminal and wondering where the time went.

Follow some of these tips and you will find it easy to get through your time here at Kandahar and end a tour of duty on a good note. If you're over the hump or just starting your tour, make a pact to stay focused on the mission at hand, be patient and positive, and put your best effort forward to complete my mission. Complete your tour positively and finish strong.