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War Journal — Central Africa, Part II

The following is the war journal of Pedro Evasco, Chief Warrant Officer 2, 3rd Special Forces Group, US Army. This is the second of twelve parts. It is fiction. But not totally.

25 June

Fucking amazing sleep. Our compound overlooks Lake Victoria — did I mention that? Slept naked and solo in my room. Fucking wind felt amazing all night. My sinuses are cleared out, man, feel much fucking better. Katie and the kids are like 8,000 miles and six months away. No use getting burned up over what happened yet.

They assigned us a fleet of cars with drivers. At about 0500, I could hear all the drivers pull up and start to gab. They didn’t give a fuck. I eyed my shoe for a minute and thought about throwing it out the window at them, but let it go. That fucking air, man. All you want to do is sleep, fuck and eat.

I bought a new suit before we left Fayetteville. They haven’t found me an office yet. Didn’t matter too much since I was making time with the Old Man, a bunch of staff guys and going from briefing to briefing.

Should say something about the Old Man. LTC Samuel Mickelson. He’s one of those officer types that is running away from the knuckle-dragger image of Special Forces. Dave Hertz and Jess Milligan were talking about HALO jumps when he came in. The Old Man didn’t jump in. They greeted him and he nodded and started tearing into what they knew about the mission. Dave told me that the Old Man has a rep of being a machine. He seemed it. I think he’s susceptible to feats of excellence, kinda like me. After we shook hands he took me aside and dug into the Ops/Intel fusion piece and we spoke for a good 90 minutes. We kept getting interrupted, sure — people had to introduce themselves. But my honest assessment? I know I present well, and I know I did today. I think he sees a resource, an ally, a rock. Good first day.

Oh yeah, I should probably put down why we’re here.

Two words — Joseph Kony. He’s the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a bunch of brainwashed dudes living in the bush. They’ve done some bad shit — they killed 700 people once and they like to make kids kill their parents, so the kids will have no choice but to join LRA. During pre-mission training, we had a few briefings about them in Fayetteville by different NGOs; there’s a bunch more I could say, but I’m probably not allowed to. Bottom line is that for five years, they’ve been on the run from us, as well as the Ugandans, Congolese, South Sudanese and Central African militaries. There’s not that many LRA left. Someone said 100, but I can’t remember if that was a joke or for real. Mostly, we’re here to “advise and assist” which is code for holding the hands of the the local militaries and try not to cause any international incidents or get ourselves into Benghazi, First Blood, Part II.

Then there’s me. I’m stuck in Entebbe with the B Team, supporting all the ODAs in the field. That actually came up when I spoke to the Old Man. He promised he’d get me out there. Def be cool to get out for a few nights, but honestly — Entebbe’s not bad at all. Uganda is fucking beautiful — nicknamed the “Pearl of Africa.” Seems like the weather is always in the 80s and never changes more than ten degrees. We’re working out of a decent compound and if you walk about a quarter mile down the road, there’s an actual mall with air conditioning and a movie theater and a KFC. But most important, had the best milkshake of my life there tonight. About 1800, went to this place, Cafe Javas, with the Old Man, the staff, and the team sergeants. OK, maybe it wasn’t the best milkshake ever, but it was the best I can remember. I had them make me a black-and-white. Holy shit. I told them to name it the “Pedro” after me. The waitress was a doll. Tall, lanky with pretty eyes. She’s Muslim too, which is kinda rare here — I think only 5–10 percent of the population. Anyway, she gave us hugs when we left. Cafe Javas. I’m gonna be there every fucking day.

There was one thing, though. Since I was “encouraged” to write down what was bothering me each day, might as well say something about Don and Macy. They were there. Sitting at the opposite end of the table from me. And we’re going around and talking about wives and families and shit. And, me being me, I can’t just tell a normal story. Somebody mentioned that their wife insisted on taking the kids to the playpen every time they went to McDonalds. So I told that story about when Kyle fought the other kid at the McDonald’s playpen and how the fathers were kinda watching it happen, but that one mother started freaking everyone out. I mean, I take a long time telling the story — I’m overacting, the way I do. And I see Don watching me, his fucking ‘stache kinda twiching, like he wasn’t buying into my bullshit. He doesn’t smile or laugh, he’s just watching me. So, while I’m talking, I stare back at him, like daring him to interact. He and Macy just get up. I’m not even done yet, and they just push back their seats. Dave says something to Don and Don says something in that quiet, calm, whisper of his. I can’t hear what Don says, but it sounded a lot like, “It’s getting a little loud in here.” Look, I get it. You’re saying I’m a loudmouth, fine. But if you want to imply that I’m violating OPSEC? That you need to withdraw yourself because I’m putting too much stink on you? Then go fuck yourself. Nobody in the cafe is with the LRA OK? I get it — Don is thirty years into his career. He’s checked off just about every cool-guy box on the bucket list. Don’t fucking try to out-operator me. Don’t act like I’m some fucking liability and certainly not in front of the Old Man. Look, the cafe is fucking big, OK? It’s gotta be 2500 square feet. I’m aware of the people around me. I notice every time our waters are getting refilled. I notice that the table in front of me has a British dude and Ugandan female, the table to the side has an Indian family in traditional dress — two parents, a grandmother, and three children — the table on the other side has three white NGO chicks and the table at my 6 o’clock is a four-top of well-dressed Ugandans. You think that because my voice goes an octave higher than yours I lack situational awareness?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too sensitive.

In two days, Don’s headed to the bush to head up split team ops. Should be the last I see of him until we exfil.

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