Last Thursday was a bittersweet day. At 0900 I walked across the stage at the Presidio of Monterey theater and graduated with my French class. At 1500 I had an office call with the LTC in charge of the FAO’s in training here and he told me that, based on my failure in Dari and my low scores in French, despite passing the language, I was being cut from the FAO program and returned to my basic branch, Armor.
This was a bolt from the blue. I talked to my branch manager on Wednesday and she asked me to get her my grades soon so she could complete all my paperwork. So, despite 14 months of grueling effort on my part to learn a language, I will not be a FAO and will not be moving to Nepal this March.
There is no doubt this hurts. I put 100% of my effort into learning a language. I graduated with a 3.0 GPA, but my DLPT scores made me low-hanging fruit. I really put a lot of my heart, a lot of thought and planning into the FAO career path and there are an immense number of dreams and opportunities that die with this path.
But, despite the very real fact that I will grieve these lost opportunities, I am confident that I gave my best swing. I cannot imagine how I could have done more to succeed. Sometime, no matter who we are or how we are gifted, we come up against something we cannot defeat. Language is, apparently, beyond me. And, you know what, I am ok with that. I don’t like it. I hate not measuring up to something I put my heart into. But, now I know more about myself than I did before.
I have long held that the measure of a man is not what he succeeds at, but what he does when the world inevitably kicks his feet out from under him. It will take a few days to re-orient my thinking. I know, for now, what my next steps are. I will be PCS’ing to Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas for New Years and then heading to Kabul to serve as a COIN officer on the NATO HQ staff in some capacity. The actual job description indicates I will be working on developing the training plan for the Afghan Army, but I won’t know, really, what I will be doing until I report in and some COL tells me what he wants me to do for him. After a year I will return to Kansas to take the 10 month ILE course for Majors and then on to another assignment, probably to a line unit to buck for an S-3 or XO job in an Armor Battalion or Cav Squadron.
I can feel the tickle of a desire to rise to a challenge. I am going to postpone exploring that just yet. But I still love the Army, I still love what I do, leading soldiers, rising to challenges. I will go where they send me and do what needs doing to the best of my ability. I’m too damn stubborn to do anything else. .
I am looking forward to this. I really hate all that I miss on deployments, but there is no doubt this is what I am meant to do in life. Guess Ill go pull all my Dari books back out and start brushing up, maybe after a year I can re-test and post some acceptable scores!