Let's just begin by saying that this whole "war" thing is vastly overrated. I know, I know. You had hopes that it would be all Black Hawk Down/Saving Private Ryan/Road Warrior-ish. Not so much. Well, except for the vehicles. They are definitely something Mad Max would be proud of.
Although I am stationed at one of the small FOBs (Forward Operating Bases), I am at one of the big ones right now to square away a giant mess involving the aforementioned cool-guy vehicles. And I am here to tell you, for those of you who haven't been over here, this base is much, much nicer than you think. And over 80% of the people assigned to it never leave the wire. Which means that they are only "deployed" in a sense that they are away from their families. Don't get me wrong, it is a noble thing they are doing. I am thankful for it in every sense. What I find humorous is that people back home think everyone is "at war." The vast majority of these soldiers and airmen go to work every day just like you do; the only difference is that they carry a rifle (poorly, I might add) and do so in a stinky, dusty place that you can't leave.
It has been a serious eye-opener being here, seeing for the first time the "big Army" in action. I can tell you that, so far, I am not impressed and I want to run away screaming as soon as I can. As all three of the loyal readers know, I came from a small world in the Army -- 6th Ranger Training Battalion -- where training actually meant something; how you carried yourself was of importance; where people realized that you did things a certain way because if you didn't, you died. Or someone else you were with did. The big Army has lost sight of that, and things like wearing a reflective belt at night so cars don't hit you has become more important that physical fitness or weapons handling skills. Going to Cinnabon to get your Chilatta takes precedence over knowing battle drills.
I could go on, but the sad fact is that "the Army" as people from the outside think of it only exists in very small pockets -- namely the infantry and combat arms-specific fields. For the most part, the military is just civilian-like jobs with uniforms.
Speaking of which, the vast amount of civilian contractors here is amazing, and most of them wear uniforms as well. Interestingly enough, while I was in one of the offices here, this guy walks in and we stared at each other for a minute in disbelief of running into each other here. I worked with him on a couple of civilian details in the past, and it was quite amusing meeting in a place like this. Small world.
I wish I had more to say about the actual job, but most of what we have been doing is changing out with the old unit and preparing for the new. Hopefully we will get to do more work soon, as it has been pretty boring up to this point. And it should be quite interesting what happens in this country after the first of the year. After all, our new President elect personally promised me a unicorn and a Gulfstream flight home right after he takes office. I believed him. Totally.
I do have a lot more writting saved on my computer from this trip. The problem has been that I can only get online with the public computers and it is only for 30 minutes at a time. Which makes it a bit difficult to respond to all the emails as well as write here. I finally got a chance to get online with my laptop, but none of my writing has been edited, so....here we are. But tell all your friends and congressmen that this blog will soon be fully operational with regular updates and stories of saving the world. Or maybe just Iraq. Or maybe just the street we're on. I think we'll start from that and work out.
By the way, if you want to imagine what it's like here, just imagine southern Arizona/New Mexico/Texas, except everyone on every street dumps their trash right in front of their house rather than, say, a garbage can. And it never gets picked up. That's pretty much it.
Until next time...