MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Spouses aboard the Combat Center got a unique look into the lives of Afghan villagers and what service members experience on deployments during the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group’s “A Day in the Life” event at Range 215 Nov. 17, 2013.
Approximately 37 spouses were transported to Range 215 to meet Afghan role-players still immersed in the customs and traditions of their land.
“A lot of what we do must seem incomprehensible to the spouses,” said Col. Andrew Kennedy, director, TTECG. “This opportunity arose to allow the spouses to come and experience a day in the life. We set up something similar to what their husbands will see overseas.”
Key aspects of everyday Afghan life were re-created before the group’s eyes, such as moments of prayer, and the spouses took the opportunity to ask Afghan women about their customs.
For most, the day was a learning experience.
“We don’t always know what our husbands do when they go off, but it’s nice to get a glimpse and experience what they might see in relation to the Afghan culture,” said Charlotte Berry, wife of Maj. Neil Berry, maneuver operations officer, TTECG. “This is as close as I’m most likely ever going to come to experiencing (Afghanistan).”
After mingling with the Afghan women, spouses ate a dish consisting of hummus, kebob and white rice. It was then time to explore the village as spouses took a tour of the police station, market and forward operating base.
The group completed their tour and said their goodbyes to the Afghan women, moved by the radically different lives of other cultures.
“I realized just how lucky and privileged we are in this country,” Charlotte said. “It makes me thankful that we are in a nation with freedom because clearly, that’s just not the case in other parts of the world.”
The experience, something that Marines normally undergo, was an opportunity awarded to spouses to allow them to better understand Operation Enduring Freedom.
“When you meet people who have a different culture or outlook than you, I think it really opens up the aperture in terms of what the challenges are to deal with an environment like that,” Kennedy said. “You go in with the mission in mind, but have to acknowledge the cultural and moral differences, and these are all things that are huge challenges for young Marines. I think it’s great for spouses to see this as well.”
Though this was simply a snap-shot of a deployed environment, the spouses interacted with real Afghans living a very real and different lifestyle to get an understanding of what life is for both the people of that land, and the Marines deployed to it.