31 October 2008

Things NCOs hate

My boss is gone. An emergency in the family forced him to take emergency leave almost as soon as hit theater. So Yours Truly has been in charge during the RIP/TOA process (Relief In Place/Transfer of Authority).

This isn't really all too bad - we fall in on the outgoing guys, learn what they do, follow them around, and then they leave and we're here. Pretty simple, eh?

Except for the other little part...the part where we sign for their equipment. Or, in my case, the part where the Team Leader signs for their equipment. If, of course, one's Team Leader is absent, that duty falls on the Team Sergeant.

And we're not talking about signing for little stuff either.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an MRAP. Pretty big, huh? And it's full of stuff. Expensive stuff. All which I had to officially take possession of. Not the best feeling for someone who considers herself the reason they invented the dummy cord.

Losing an MRAP would probably have negative career consequences. But that wasn't the end of it.

Today I signed for all the team gear. That's another vehicle, pistols, radios, night vision and a pile of other crap. Including mystery boxes of ammo. Although those didn't require a signature, they did require sorting.

Yes, I did sub-hand-receipt as much of it as possible as quickly as possible, but there's still a pile of crap and two trucks in my name. I may lose my Sergeant Card for saying this, but I cannot wait until my officer gets back.

30 October 2008

Interfacing with the locals

I've got one phrase for those of you who've been in this part of the world. Let's see what sort of imagery it conjures up:

Turkish shitter. In an Iraqi Police station.

For any of you who ever doubted my devotion to what I do, not only did I use that awful "latrine" a couple of days ago, I did so and then did not run screaming all the way out of the Middle East. Which isn't to say that after straddling a crap-filled trench in a small, urine-soaked closet that - by the way - did not seem to confine said crap to said trench, not to say that after that I did not want to run screaming. Because I did want to.

Alas, Civil Affairs sergeants cannot run screaming because the host nation is icky.

And today, at a city council meeting in another town, I used a "latrine" that, although of the same fiendish design, was not horrifying. And they fed me. So...win some, lose some.

28 October 2008

Getting down to business

Not being the sort to let grass grow around us, we plunged headlong into wandering around our new AO (area of operations), looking at stuff and talking to people. Until I do a little more research, we're not going to talk very much about that. However, I can and will say that:

A - this area is significantly more permissive than the one I was in 2005-2006. This is obviously a Very Good Thing, but it does take some getting used to.

B - MRAPs are big and tall, and driving them through street across which the locals have hung a rat's nest of electrical wires is recipe for causing blackouts. Which is a great way to convince the locals not to kill us...I guess.

After a meeting with a local mover and shaker, we returned to base to start the truly important stuff - home repairs! We live in CHUs (Containerized Housing Units). My roommate and I were not fortunate enough to inherit one with a porch roof, and so we're slowly "acquiring" material to build one.

You can see the initial bits and pieces here.

Only in the interest of giving you all a concept of what "home" looks like here would I ever publish such an unflattering picture.

27 October 2008

Another move

And now we have reached our final location. It's dusty, sandbagged,
has Army cooks, and is FABULOUS. Mostly because it's NOT co-located
with our headquarters.

Coming soon, to a spottily-updated blog near you...tales of hilarity
from First Convoy and First Real Mission.