23 May 2009

^$%^$ furniture

Well, I went to a war, and a garrison broke out.

They ordered furniture. Each CHU got two wall lockers and two little drawer/chest thingies. Today we did wall-lockers. Well, we did two of them. Out of the six we have.

Each wall-locker arrives in three boxes. Here's one box:

Many, many pieces. There were 50mm screws, too. About 10,000 of those.

Did I mention we don't have any powered screwdrivers? I was lucky in that I found a real one - that's a lot of screws to drive with a Gerber/Leatherman.

So, with four more of those and the little drawer thingies to put together, we shouldn't be bored for a few days. And, if nothing else, it's a wrist workout.

22 May 2009

Scenes from a FOB

I actually took my camera this evening as I wandered out on an errand. I thought I'd share some imagery with y'all. Now, certainly you understand that I can't really stand on top of something tall, take a picture of the whole FOB, and label it with handy information like "PX," "LZ," "motor pool," etc. But I figure I can take all the candid FOB shots I want.

I walked out of the Hesco barriers that surround the living area, and shot a picture of the first interesting thing I saw.

Now, being a decent noncommissioned officer, I'd normally pick up a piece of refuse. But I left this one alone. Why, you ask?

Because it was underpants. Ick.

I trudged down, copied the number I needed off our quadconn, and turned to trudge back. And saw this delightful little slice of tackiness!

Yes, in the foreground you will see what is affectionately referred to as a "piss bottle." Because half of the world cannot be bothered to drag their sorry carcasses outside to pee at night. Not my half, I'd point out.

I didn't pick that up, either. But don't you think the dead mattresses add something classy?

I headed back to the office. Passing through the Hescos again, I glanced at the CHU behind mine where one of the first sergeants lives. We received some furniture for the CHUs this morning (some assembly required), and I note that the first sergeant's was (like most of ours), as yet unopened. Then I noticed that it was also, apparently, doubling as a lair.

I tried to lure the little critter over for some petting, but apparently he (or she) is already aware of the FOB's If You Don't Pet It It's Not A Pet policy, and kept its distance. Then I noticed it wasn't alone.

The only thing worse than one very small tiger is a whole gang of very small tigers. So I turned off the camera and backed away.

Next time - adventures in furniture assembly!

21 May 2009

Road trips

The Bossman was recently out of town (yet again), hanging out in a much nicer and more Kurdish area, doing...well, field grade stuff (naps and PowerPoint). Or something. Word was passed that he should return to Big Base on Tuesday, or perhaps Wednesday, and then he might begin to try to find a way down here.

Our manuever battalion is doing most of our job at this point, so we're a little underemployed. Given that, we decided the best way to ensure Bossman made it home (rather than hanging out with the wireless internet and good chowhall for days on end) was to go fetch him back.

We packed our assault packs, loaded the radios, stuck SGT B in the turret, SSG C in the driver's seat and Yours Truly in what I like to refer to as the "aircraft commander" seat. Trading an open seat in the back for a spot in an outbound convoy, we hit the road.

Is that exciting or what? However, I've reached a point where if a car ride in Iraq is boring beyond words, I recognize it for the good thing it is.

We made it to the Big Base, found the Bossman, bought a lot of meat, grabbed a lot of snacks (hooah for Higher, who managed to get us access to the fresh fruit and vegetable storgae point!), and trucked back.

The ride back was at night (hence the lack of pictures). Alas, it wasn't utterly uneventful. In good news, our people are pretty good at handling nasty surprises in the road these days. In less-good news, handling those does take a while. So there was waiting. A good, long, stretch of waiting.

I will not elaborate on the acrobatics required to pee during said wait, when one is wedged into an abnormally small front seat area and wearing a ridiculous amount of gear. Suffice it to say it required monkeylike feats of perching, balancing and hanging by the arms.

I love my job.

But all's well that ends well. We made it back to FOB McSleepy with our Boss and our snacks. Although we told people we'd be gone, nobody really seems to have noted our absence. And although we had a couple of virtual papers in our electronic inbox, we're certainly not swamped. The excitement just never ends over here, I tell ya...

20 May 2009


You know, I'd have thought there was maybe a better way to deal with this, pubicity-wise, than to publicize the resolution this way: Military burns unsolicited Bibles sent to Afghanistan.

I'm not a Bible person myself, understand. And I am fully aware of all the ways in which proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice (Gen. Order 1B, paragraph 2k) might not really help the cause in Afghanistan.

But reeeally?

"The decision was made that it was a 'force protection' measure to throw them away, because, if they did get out, it could be perceived by Afghans that the U.S. government or the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims," Wright told CNN on Tuesday.

Troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash, Wright said.

I don't know how they do it there, but we tend to burn classified stuff, personnel rosters and such, and address labels from our mail. And I mean we burn it (usually in our high speed classified material disposal unit - our grill). The rest of our trash we cart to the burn pit, where a super-healthy fire smolders 24/7, blowing charred bits of refuse and questionable smoke across the FOB.

But something about burning Bibles in the name of force protection and then doing media interviews about it strikes me as either creepy or bad public affairs work. Possibly both.

Then again, who knows. Maybe Bagram is so very crowded and packed, or there were so many Bibles, than it was impossible to shove the box into the back of the chaplain's conex for eventual transport stateside.