Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thoughts From The Desert

As many of my readers probably already know, I'm currently on my way to Iraq to play my little part in this war. Right now, I'm sitting around on a base in the Gulf, killing time while we wait for a plane to take us into Iraq. A few thoughts:
  • When you think of the desert, you think of sand. Wrong. This place is nothing but dust. You'd think, eventually, all the dust would have blown away leaving just clean sand, gravel and rock. But no, this entire country is nothing but dust. We've seen workers digging pits, and it's solid dust down to three meters, at least. The gravel on the roads seems to have been shipped in from somewhere.
  • Why do they even bother making gravel roads anyway? It's not like there'd be anything to keep you from driving anywhere else. The whole place is a giant parking lot anyway. Maybe the gravel is just to mark where the roads are.
  • Ditto that for the sidewalks. I suppose enough road traffic could turn this place into one giant washboard, but do they really need to pave concrete walkways for us? It's a touch surreal.
  • A previous base en route, closer to civilization, had some sparrows singing. At this place, the very first non-human life I've seen in two days was a single cricket.
  • I'd heard before how much the service industries in the Gulf rely on TCNs (Third-Country Nationals): Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos. But it's still a shock, to come to a country and see next to none of the locals. I suppose if I wanted to meet them, I'd have to go into town. But I don't think there's any towns anywhere near here.
  • Despite being on an isolated base in the middle of the desert, with no drugs, no alcohol, no pornography allowed -- in short, no way to get in trouble if we wanted to -- we still have to break up our free time hiking back and forth to the tents for accountability formations. Just to keep track of us. Where exactly would we go? Sigh.
Look forward to my next post from Iraq. Got no clue when that'll be.


Shane said...

About the roads - I've wondered the same thing here in Alaska in the winter. We get yelled at and the 1SG threatens us with towing when we park wherever the hell we want (e.g. what I've heard is a sidewalk in the summer immediately outside our unit's building) because the 12" or so of packed, glacier-like snow that's been on the ground since October makes every field a parking lot with an identical surface to any of the roads in the area.

And you know what the accountability formations are for. Just because it's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" doesn't mean they want to make it convenient for those guys. One my platoon's Arabic linguists got outed and chaptered out in just the short time I've been here. Oh and he was the last NCO in our platoon (besides PSG), and our last Arabic linguist. Yay.

Shane said...

Oh yeah. And keep us updated, be safe, good luck, and all that stuff you've probably been hearing for weeks from all different sources.

Elephantschild said...

Sounds rather like what the surface of the moon would be like, if the moon had atmosphere and was quite dirty.

"Accountability formations," eh? Good thing my dorm father at boarding school never thought of that one.