Monday, May 09, 2005

Wagons Ho!

On the afternoon of May 7th I moved to my new home at FOB Falcon. It’s pretty cool here. It’s smaller than Victory but it has established buildings. It also overlooks the Tigris river. This means grass and tress as opposed to the dusty barren desert of camp Victory. There’s also roads and sidewalks instead of foot trails beaten into the desert dirt. The trip here was pretty much uneventful. When we got here we fully expected to move into the rooms we had scouted out on a previous trip. They’re sort of dingy third world out of a movie kind of rooms. The paint is peeling off the 13 foot ceilings and there is a make shift fan with a missing blade loping in a lazy circle overhead. One wall was just windows with a panoramic view of concrete barriers set right in front of them. They are kind of cool in a 'just visiting wouldn’t want to live here forever' way. They have a bathroom in each room, well sort of. It’s a concrete room with a hole in the middle. It has a sink a toilet and a pan in the corner with a shower head over it. The shower isn’t enclosed or anything and the toilet is literally cemented to the floor. It looks like someone punched a hole in the floor, set a toilet down and mixed a bucket of cement around the edges of the toilet. I guess it’s OK as long as the guy living above you doesn’t have a similar setup. So I say we fully expected to move into these rooms because that’s what the plan was. If there’s one thing to count on in the military it’s don’t expect to follow the plan, especially if officers are involved.

My new assignment involves training the new Iraqi Army intell guys. I’m pretty excited about it because there are very few of us involved in the project. That means I should, if all goes as planned, (see above comment about plans) actually make an impact on the history of Iraq. Good or bad remains to be seen, but an impact none the less. This is a project that has been evolving for some time before I was actually plugged into the mechanics of it. Now the plan is in full swing and is drawing attention. Of course wherever attention is to be drawn you can rest assure the normal enlisted Army guys are obviously fully incapable of handling it, even though they got it to the point where the attention was drawn. Cue the officers. There was an entourage of brass through here today who decided that our rooms were perfect for them and we would have to find shelter elsewhere. The problem is that there is no elsewhere. Those chuckles were never part of the original plan so now there are more bodies than there are rooms. When there are officers and enlisted with a shortage of rooms guess who gets stuck holding the “go find your own room” end of the stick. So right now six of us are living in a storage room in the basement of one of Saddam’s old buildings while they try to unscrew the mess they’ve made. The door doesn’t lock so we have to have someone in the room 24/7 to keep an eye on our stuff. It’s not all bad though, it’s got a nice homey feel to it and it’s pretty spacious. We just pretend we’re special forces and we just commandeered a building for our use. We don’t actually pretend that but it was fun to think about. We’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings.

This place was some sort of military installation under Saddam’s regime. There are a few buildings here and there and even a big outdoor swimming pool. There’s no water in it but it has potential. There was talk of hiring a contractor to maintain the pool but I don’t think that’ll actually pan out. There aren’t enough American’s here to entice KBR to sign any contracts so we eat Army chow. It’s really not that bad though. Three meals a day compared to the one meal a day in Mahmudiah. There’s a small gym and a computer lab run by the Army. There are a few Haji shops but no phone centers. There are some phones in one of the Haji shops that the guy charges you 35 cents a minute. He’s also got a few computers you can use for $2.00 an hour. The Army ones are free and they’re faster than what I had in my room at Victory. You can get the phone cards for the cell phones here so I’ll end up using those. I was sad to see my internet connection go. That was my main means of communication with my wife. Hopefully we’ll be able to work out a schedule when I can go to the computer lab at the same time she can get on-line. That way we can chat on Yahoo. I don’t think they let you use a web cam in the Army internet café though. I let a guy take the cat5 cable from my room to use while I’m here with the understanding I get it back if I go back to Victory. The plan is to stay here for the rest of the rotation and leave the country from here. What a glorious day that will be.

What else? I shipped some Iraqi snickers bars back to my wife to taste test and pass out to a few people. It was sort of a test to see how they traveled before I bought them by a case size and shipped them. It seems snickers bars don’t travel well in the mail from the desert. She said by the time she got them they were hard and crumbly. I had a few here like that and they just sort of loose that special something. Oh well, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I’m sure some exciting things will happen working here with the Iraqis. I’ll keep you posted on what I can. Oh yeah, it’s mosquito and sand flea season and all I can say is crap. I’ll try to post some pictures on the photo album later this week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I promise not to send any military intelligence jokes! Seriously, I'm glad to hear you are involved in a project that has potential to help the citizens in your area.
LH at dartmouth

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to see your sense of humor remains. It will be cool to see what impact takes place with your training. Maybe you can ask Squishy Santa for a new place to stay. I hope you have been nice. We are still praying for you and your family. JJM

2:34 AM  

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