ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Afghanistan - The Halfway Mark - 33 Things I've Learned


33 Random Things I've Learned While On Deployment to Afghanistan

Today is the mid-point of my deployment to Afghanistan. I wasn’t really counting the days until now. I could have. There are plenty of products which enable you to do so, to include the Donut of Misery—an excel-based donut circle which counts down every day, interminably, that does more to remind you have how much time you have left, then how much time you have to go. But I didn’t want to put myself through any unnecessary mental anguish.

Tomorrow starts my countdown. I’ll start paying attention at that point and begin making plans.

This makes 90 days in Afghanistan and 121 days away from home.

These are some of the things I’ve learned during that time:

·         My agency has some of the best training. Learning how to drive, crash, shoot and move was not only a blast, but it made me better able react in the event of an attack.

·         There should be an IQ test for those attending the above training so other people don’t have the experience of someone firing at a target over your shoulder because they think it’s their turn.

·         Fried Bologna sandwiches made in rural Virginia are magnificent.

·         Cedar Lodge and The Harmons were put here on earth to nurture the hurt, wounded, and wanting.

·         Driving into Kabul is more fun than a Six Flags ride.

·         The OSTs are manned with enough handsome, muscular, tattooed young men with six figure salaries that if American women ever found out, they’d charter their own planes to Afghanistan.

·         Too many deployed persons don’t realize that if they act like assholes they’ll get treated like assholes.

·         My grandfather once told me to never be rude to the people who do your shoes, your hair, or your clothes. This is never truer here. And assholes wonder why they’re missing clothes in their laundry bags. (See above)

·         Mexican Food made my Indian contractors in an Afghani mess hall is less palatable than pre-chewed Chinese food at a nursing home.

·         If you can’t lose weight while deployed, you’re a glutton.

·         Don’t brag when you’re in a war zone or you’ll get called on it right away.

·         Don’t watch the eyes. Watch the hands. If you can’t see the hands, get ready.

·         Hewlett Packard won’t believe you when you claim you’re in Afghanistan.

·         Face time is free and the best way to communicate to a loved one or your publisher in New York.

·         If you’re doing Power Yoga in the gym, people will look at you strangely the first dozen times, then approach you meekly and ask to be let into the secret.

·         If they’re serving you fish in the mess hall and you’re in a land locked country, it’s like playing Russian roulette with your digestive system.

·         Perspective: When you’re in a place where people want to kill, wound, maim and mutilate you, you tend to realize what things back home really matter, don’t matter, who matters and who doesn’t.

·         It’s amazing how much someone can invest in being angry about something when they have absolutely nothing to lose. It establishes relevance.

·         Haggling in the markets and bazaars is a national sport and a fun game to play with prizes at the end.

·         If you’re walking upstairs, make sure the asshat in front of you doesn’t have his rifle slung over his shoulder with the barrel pointing at your head.

·         It’s cruel and unusual punishment to have a Belgian National Day celebration with free alcoholic Belgian beer in a country where General Order #1 precludes you from drinking alcohol.

·         Never ever ever ever ever have another war in a Muslim country (see above).
Download this novel now and
save it for later.

·         Bandwidth and download limits are more precious than gold.

·         You see people at their best and worse. You forgive them their worst, and love them at their best.

·         No matter how sucky your day is, think of the Army private at a forward operating base staring through a gun sight and remember that he wishes he was you.

·         You cherish the love of your wife, husband, or significant other above everything else.

·         You realize everything you are sacrificing and find it worth spending a time in hell if only because your presence will help the life of a soldier, sailor, airmen or marine return safely to his family.

·         You can’t swing a dead raccoon by the tail at ISAF HQ without hitting a General Officer.

·         If you hit a General Office with a dead raccoon at ISAF HQ, there’s really nowhere to run.

·         Act professional and pleasant and no matter how bad the other person’s day is the chances are they’ll return your demeanor.

·         You don’t have to know how to do something, you just have to know how to get the answer.

·         Don’t be ugly or you’ll be remembered as that guy.

·         The fourth or fifth time you’re attacked in the early hours of the morning, you actually consider rolling over and going back to sleep.

I have 90 more days until I get a ride on my own jet plane.

Now to buckle down, concentrate, and remain safe.

See you in 90.


Weston Ochse
Currently in

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Please Note: This article is © copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law.


  1. My military maxim was close to your father's. Don't mess with the people who cook your food or cut your check (in the Navy that was Mess Cooks and Disbursement Clerks). Great thoughts, Wes. Hey...email me your snailmail addie, okay? -Mikey-

  2. Continue staying safe, brother. And I left a present in your voice mail this past Sunday.