07 January 2008

War is Hell... without my latte

Ok, so there I was, about a week ago, sitting at my desk surfing the internet and having my 2nd cup of coffee when my boss came looking for me and I thought, "war sucks..." No, really, being out here in the sticks, the bush, the sh!t, the battlespace, ... you get the picture ... is being in "the war." But that begs the question, "How bad can it really be if you can get online at your desk?" Well, we can do more than just get online. We have satellite television (I was able to see the Giants beat the Bucs last night, LIVE), a little base exchange where we can purchase snacks and other goods, and air conditioned and heated rooms which will soon be internet-ready. So, aside from being far from home and family in a foreign country with people around who want to kill you, it's not all that far from being at summer camp but with guns. Just like at camp, you have your daily activities, your occasional field trips to town, visiting day, and if you're on one lucky FOB, a swimming pool.

Since my base is out in the battlespace, it's a completely different experience than being at one of the super-FOBs like the Victory Base Complex. At the VBC, you have mess halls so big you could play football inside them with a great variety of food available. They also have post exchanges like you would find in the states, fast food restaurants, 24hr coffee shops (like Starbucks), movie theaters, pizza parlors, basically, all the comforts of home without being there. You might be thinking that the VBC doesn't sound so bad and it isn't but it's just like any other company. If you didn't work at the corporate headquarters, would you want to??? At my base, I'm the 4th highest ranking (combat) officer stationed there. At the VBC, I'm a nobody with huge oversight. Not only would I have my boss looking over my shoulder, I'd have his boss and his boss's boss, and so on all the way up the the HMFIC (the guy at the top) - not exactly what I would call "a productive work environment".

Which brings us back to why my boss was looking for me. He had decided that I would be the "perfect" guy to plan General Petraeus's visit to Thunderdome... er, Dragon. Since I had been at Dragon, we'd entertained GEN Petraeus twice, the Division Commander twice, General Odierno (the Corps commander) once, and a host of other VIPs who want to see a pacified area of Iraq that was once a stronghold for Al Qaeda. This time, I couldn't run and hide and avoid the circus, I was going to be part of it ("SEND IN THE CLOWNS!"). Not only was I going to make sure that everything was set at Dragon for his visit but I was also supposed to be his escort for the day. I would lead him through the tour of the battalion's most current achievement, a patrol base across the Euphrates River. It was a pretty cool experience, all in all. He gave me a coin and I gave him one in return (he seemed to get a kick out of that). How often do you get to stand shoulder to head - he's shorter than I am - with the main reason for all the success we've been having lately in Iraq? Probably at least once more since he commanded my battalion back in the day and likes to visit us. That night, when the circus left town, I got into bed and watched a DVD on my computer.

I told you, "war sucks..."

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