118 posts categorized under “Iraq”

  • 24 Month Limit on Guard Reserve Active Duty Time Eliminated

    24 Month Limit on Guard Reserve Active Duty Time Eliminated

    Date Published: 27 January 2007

    Associated Press | January 12, 2007 WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a Citizen-Soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq. The day after President Bush announced his plan for a deeper U.S. military commitment in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of…


  • Back in the USA

    Date Published: 30 December 2004

    I flew back home Tuesday the 28th and am now on a pass in Fayetteville, NC (Ft. Bragg). I'll be here for probably a couple of weeks yet while we outprocess and demobilize. It's great to be back in the US again, and Michelle drove down from Ohio to see me arrive, which was really nice. Thanks again to everyone for all your support, and to the 278th for relieving us in country so that we could…


  • PocketPC (and desktop) .NET Chess!

    Date Published: 24 December 2004

    I've recently been getting back into playing Chess while I'm in Iraq. I'm pretty good, compared to a lot of people here, but I'm definitely still a novice. I need look no further for proof of this than my difficulty in beating this PocketPC chess game even on its easiest setting. It's a very cool, and free, chess game for PocketPC and for the desktop. No longer will I be limited to Solitaire on my…


  • Army Looks to Boost UpArmor Humvee Production

    Date Published: 11 December 2004

    After Rumsfeld was asked earlier this week why soldiers going into Iraq are having to scrounge for vehicle armor, the Army is now actively looking to boost production of uparmored Humvees. That's a good thing, to be sure, and one I doubt is any coincidence considering the media attention the issue has received this week. However, in addition to building more up-armored humvees, there also needs to…


  • Rumsfeld Responds To Tough Questions

    Date Published: 08 December 2004

    AP Reports Disgruntled Troops Complain To Rumsfeld. I don't think they're complaining - they're asking legitimate questions to someone in a position, one would hope, to take action. But Rumsfeld does a good job of answering the questions, I think. One was asked by a member of the 278th out of Tennessee -- the same unit that will be relieving us shortly. The question, which is perfectly valid I…


  • Tikrit

    Date Published: 04 December 2004

    Saw Tikrit today, including a few palaces from a distance. Apart from Baghdad it's the biggest city I've been in over here. Its rush hour was comparable to something back in the states, with lots of traffic, and there were lots and lots of people walking around outside. Tuz is decent-sized, but with smaller buildings and narrower roads and less traffic. I didn't get to actually go near any of the…


  • Flag Patches and Uniforms

    Date Published: 27 November 2004

    One thing that has bugged me ever since I first saw it is the use of the flag patch on Army uniforms. I'm not against having the patch -- that's fine -- what bugs me are some of the details. The largest of which is the fact that the flag patch is secondary to a combat unit patch. In my opinion, nothing should ever be put in a more prominent position than the US flag on a US military uniform. This…


  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Date Published: 25 November 2004

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Our Thanksgiving dinner here was actually pretty good. The task force chain of command served dinner for everybody on the base, which was a nice touch, something we used to do for Christmas dinner during December drills back in Ohio. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, gravy, and a variety of pies (and sweet potatoes, but I'm not a fan of those…


  • Thank You XBox Team, Microsoft

    Date Published: 22 November 2004

    A few days ago I got a very nice care package from the Microsoft XBox team, sent to me and my platoon here in Iraq. I posted some pictures and more info on my Army blog, here. http://armyadvice.org/armysteve/archive/2004/11/22/932.aspx


  • Thanks XBox Team and Microsoft

    Date Published: 22 November 2004

    A few days ago, a very large, insured box arrived for me. It was from the XBox team at Microsoft, who got my address from some friends of mine who work or worked at Microsoft. They sent us a care package full of SWAG, including a bunch of hats and t-shirts, some pillows and posters, an XBox, and about 30 games. I took some pictures of the platoon with some of their new gear, and from all of us, a…


  • Cash, Phones, and Internet

    Date Published: 20 November 2004

    Here's the low down on money, phones, and Internet here at FOB Bernstein (Caldwell is not much different except you can go to finance any time you want). Money. Cash is king. The PX will take credit cards but nobody else will (e.g. haji shops, etc. -- there's not much in the PX and it only gets restocked every few weeks). There's really not THAT much to spend your money on here, anyway, once you…


  • Iraq Laptop Tips

    Date Published: 20 November 2004

    Here's some advice for those bringing laptops, gleaned from other soldiers here: 1) Bring extra batteries -- they're worth the $100 they cost. 2) Bring an extra power adapter -- I know several soldiers whose adapters have been fried and now they have a real hard time using their laptops. 3) A CD Burner (or DVD burner) is a great extra to have, for burning pictures to CD or making backups. If you…


  • Bright Lights, Big City

    Date Published: 18 November 2004

    As I said in my last post, I recently went back to FOB Caldwell for a quick trip. The trip there and back was uneventful, gladly. Not having been there for a couple of months, it was interesting to see what had changed, and also to compare it with FOB Bernstein now that I've lived at the latter for a while. The closest analogy I can offer is that it's like going from a rural farm or small town to…


  • Thanksgiving and Army Chow

    Date Published: 18 November 2004

    Earlier this week, for a few nights in a row, it was thanksgiving dinner time at FOB Bernstein. They had turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes -- even cranberry sauce. There was also roast beef. This was for a couple of days in a row (so it was like T-day with leftovers -- very realistic), but of course they're about a week and a half early. So of course now I'm wondering if the stuff we just…


  • Fobbits and other Iraqi critters

    Date Published: 12 November 2004

    Here's some terms you'll need to know if you're going to be coming to Iraq soon (at least for US Army folks). One term that's frowned up on officially but used all the time is 'haji', referring to Iraqis. There are 'haji shops' at most bases where you can buy souvenirs, dvds, gifts, rugs, blankets, electronics, etc. A haji is really a muslim who has completed a 'haj', or pilgrimage, to mecca, and…


  • Busy Week

    Date Published: 10 November 2004

    It's been a pretty hectic week thus far here. I've been out on missions every day for the last few days, even on my birthday. They've all been good missions, though, and we've gotten to blow stuff up every day this week, which makes us combat engineers feel good (and, I think, our commanders as well). In the rear, we're packing and organizing, as the time is nearing when we may get to go home (or…


  • Flea Collars and Sand Fleas

    Date Published: 10 November 2004

    By way of advice, let me talk about flea collars. I've been asked numerous times if people should send flea collars to ward off fleas and sand fleas. Sand fleas, from everything I've been told here and in the states by medical personnel, are basically small mosquitos. They have wings, they fly, they're about 1/4 the size of a typical mosquito back in Ohio. They're not fleas, at least not what I've…


  • TF 120 Says \"Go Army, Beat Navy\"

    Date Published: 10 November 2004

    The Army-Navy Football game is coming up (December 4th - more info), and a bunch of folks here are really into it. The Task Force (1/120th IN) put together a short movie they're hoping CBS will play during the game. However, I've been given permission to offer a 'sneak peak' at this movie to people who visit this site. The movie is a bit large (9 MB) so if you have a slow connection it may take a…


  • Camel Spiders

    Date Published: 03 November 2004

    Everybody wants to know about camel spiders here in Iraq, especially after that infamous picture went around with the two huge looking ones. I've seen a few here in Bernstein, but they're all pretty small, about the size of a silver dollar or maybe a bit bigger. Ugly looking critters. Here's a picture of one I ran across yesterday while I had my camera. It was under a cooler I was moving…


  • ArmyAdvice Getting Started

    Date Published: 31 October 2004

    First, go to your blog. The url will be http://armyadvice.org/YOURBLOG/, where YOURBLOG should be provided to you in your welcome email. Once there, you should see a blog and a Login link. Click the Login link and enter your username and password. If this is your first time logging in, your password will be 'temp' (without the '). Note that due to a limitation with the login screen, you can't just…


  • Rain is Here

    Date Published: 30 October 2004

    It's been cool and overcast today (all day, for the first time since I've been here). It rained some this evening, and the rainy season is supposed to be starting right about now, so the dust is probably about to be replaced by mud. Not much new here, just continuing to mark time and do my job. Internet has been working acceptably most of the week since I hooked up the platoon last weekend, so…


  • PT Scores and Internet

    Date Published: 23 October 2004

    Not much new to report this week. Temperatures are getting more and more tolerable here, and in the morning it's actually getting cold enough that something more than shorts and t-shirt is required for PT. And speaking of PT, we had our Army Physical Fitness Test this morning. Not having taken one in over four years or so I was unsure how I would do, but I'm pleased with my score of 251 after…


  • Update From Bernstein

    Date Published: 16 October 2004

    I've been here almost a month now, which has flown by very quickly, it seems. I can hardly believe October is more than half over! It's rained twice so far, but neither time enough to really leave any lasting puddles or wetness. But the rainy season is coming, I think in November. The daily highs are only reaching the 90s now, which is far more tolerable. Meanwhile, my platoon continues to improve…


  • First Rain

    Date Published: 09 October 2004

    We got our first clouds a few days ago, and today was the first real rain showers I've seen since I've been in Iraq. There was some lightning and thunder, as well as some pretty heavy drops, but the whole thing wasn't even enough to really wet the ground, and lasted maybe 10-15 minutes. It was still really nice, though.


  • I'm still here (and soon you may be...)

    Date Published: 07 October 2004

    It's been a relatively slow week, which means time passes more slowly. It is possible to be busy here as well as safe, so while I appreciate the sentiments that folks invariably have about how they'd rather I be bored here than having exciting experience, I'd prefer a happy medium wherein I'm busy and doing something useful, but not actively being attacked... In other news, I heard from a friend…


  • A General Stops In (funny)

    A General Stops In (funny)

    Date Published: 03 October 2004

    Last week some time, the 1st Infantry Division commander, a 2-star General, was visiting FOB Bernstein. He (and his entourage of security personnel, drivers, and various hangers-on -- in total about 20 people) stopped by my platoon's new living quarters, a street of CHUs (containerized housing units -- trailers) which you can see a picture of our row of CHUs below (click to enlarge). Badger Red…


  • 30th Brigade Commander Gives SitRep to NC Newspaper

    Date Published: 01 October 2004

    In this article, General Hickman describes the current situation in his (my) brigade's area of operations here in Iraq. I pretty much agree with everything he has to say, too, so if you're wondering how things are going over here, have a read.


  • More Info on IRR placement SNAFUs

    Date Published: 01 October 2004

    LTC (ret) Weldon formerly a deputy G1 wrote me today to elaborate on where the problem usually lies for replacements who arrive to find that they have no position to fill: Steve: HQDA and HRC St Louis do not assign individuals to positions within a theater, nor even at a stateside installation. Installations and theaters report projected vacancies and DA and HRC St Louis attempt to fill them. The…


  • Proof Time In Iraq Goes By More Slowly Than in US!

    Date Published: 30 September 2004

    FYI, clocks in Iraq are falling back an hour tonight (Oct 1st at 0100). I figure this post won't be much help to any soldiers over here who will be undersleeping tomorrow (it means an extra hour of sleep for everyone except those with duty tonight), but it might help some of you in the states expecting your deployed loved ones to be on at a particular time to plan accordingly. Time difference…


  • So Called 'Critically Needed IRRs' Not Even Filling Open Positions

    Date Published: 30 September 2004

    I've been receiving an alarming number of emails recently from IRR-activated soldiers who are just now reaching their units in Iraq, only to find that the unit had no idea they were coming and has no slots open or jobs for them to do in their actual MOS. This was the case for several of my peers when I arrived in country -- there was myself and another Engineer officer, plus 6 Field Artillery…


  • How having troops in Iraq protects people in the USA

    Date Published: 29 September 2004

    I think many people who favor the immediate pullout of our forces from Iraq believe that our presence here is not protecting US citizens from attacks (and surely many have other reasons for wanting us to leave, but I'm just going to address one at the moment). I believe that our presence in Iraq is, in fact, protecting my family and friends and others back in the USA. Yes, our troops are being…


  • Black Scorpions

    Date Published: 25 September 2004

    Things are going fine here. Getting settled in, have everybody here now that's not on leave. Was out talking to my commander and the other LTs in the company tonight and when we got up to leave (after dark) we picked up our helmets and one of the other guys got stung by a black scorpion. It was 3-4 inches long and about 2 inches wide with legs. First one I've seen. It just got the guy on the…


  • New Home

    Date Published: 22 September 2004

    Moved to a new home a few days ago. On the trip here our convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, injuring two of my fellow soldiers. Both will return to duty soon, though, as neither was very serious. It was a wake-up call, though, and for me it was the closest encounter with enemy action I've had thus far. We're getting settled into our new accomodations, which were pretty rough when we got here but…


  • Central Perk, Iraqi Style

    Date Published: 17 September 2004

    A few weeks ago a new building completed construction at FOB Caldwell. The Hickory Cafe (30th BCT's tagline is “Old Hickory”) provides a Starbucksesque atmosphere and serves a few flavors of coffee that the chow hall doesn't. I guess it's run by a guy who runs a few coffee shops back in the US, and everything is based on donations. So, slowly but surely, the base is gaining some comforts of home…


  • Awesome Rock Band (local to northeast Ohio)

    Date Published: 16 September 2004

    An awesome rock band for anybody interested in such things is Redshift. Their song Infamy got a ton of play time on local stations back a couple of years ago (about a year after 9/11). At the time I really liked it because I could relate to it from my army experience and the whole war on terror. Now that I've been called back into the Army, it's all the more compelling (to me, at least). Their…


  • New Domain, More Bloggers

    Date Published: 12 September 2004

    I've registered ArmyAdvice.org and mapped my ArmySteve.com domain to it. If you're just interested in me, you'll want to go to http://armyadvice.org/ArmySteve/. The main url at http://ArmyAdvice.org/ will show posts from a growing number of army bloggers. I've set up three this weekend; guys in my platoon or whom I've met since getting called up. I expect that number to grow as word spreads of…


  • Mail Call and WebSite Info

    Date Published: 10 September 2004

    For those wondering how long mail takes, I got 2 letters and 2 packages today (9/10), 3 of which were sent on 8/26 and one on 8/28. So 13-15 days. I had some time today to play around a bit with the look my section of the site (click here if you're on the home page) -- let me know how you like it. Also, I'm going to be renaming this website to ArmyAdvice.com and opening it up to other Army…


  • More Stuff To Bring

    Date Published: 06 September 2004

    Here's some gadgets that are nice to have: Laptop. Yes, bring one. They're great for watching movies on and you may have the opportunity to use it for email, webcam, computer games, etc. MP3 Player. If you like music. Something tiny that runs on AA batteries would be my first choice (vs. a larger iPod or what-have-you). I have an IRiver. GPS. The Garmin Rino 120 is a decent one, but any will do as…


  • Big Guns

    Date Published: 31 August 2004

    No, not my muscles... We had weapons qualification earlier this week and brought along some other weapons to familiarize with (courtesy of EOD). I got a few pictures and a couple of nice movies of the experience. All the pictures are in the August gallery. Here's one of my favorites: Me with Barrett M82 .50 cal sniper rifle More pics in the gallery, including some with a Dragunov russian sniper…


  • Some Product Reviews and Packing Tips

    Date Published: 29 August 2004

    Still love all my UnderArmour stuff -- I don't wear anything else for shirts/underwear now. Got a Gilette Mach3 razor from my wife a few days ago to replace my Gillette Sensor (figured I'd give the new one a shot and see how I liked it). The difference was amazing - there's no way I'm going back to the Sensor. I know it's a pretty simple thing, shaving, but seeing as I'm doing 7 days a week now I…


  • Update From Caldwell

    Date Published: 24 August 2004

    Things are moving along here. I'm fine. My roommate moved to another base a few days ago, so now I've got a room to myself. However, that probably won't last since it sounds like I'll be moving to another base (separate from Chris) as well in a few weeks. Still most likely doing the same kinds of missions, though. Accomodations won't be as nice if and when I move, and Internet access will be much…


  • EQT Training

    Date Published: 19 August 2004

    Because I'm stationed at the same base as my battalion and brigade headquarters ('close to the flagpole'), my platoon (and company) has to endure some silliness that units further from here do not. For instance, while back home, some of the major training activities that national guard units do include common task training (CTT), engineer qualification tables (EQT), army physical fitness tests…


  • Engineers Doing EOD Work Get Incentive Pay

    Date Published: 17 August 2004

    This Stars and Stripes article: http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,FL_pay_042004,00.html Describes how engineers doing the work of ordnance disposal are now (as of last November) eligible to receive incentive pay of $150/month. So far I haven't seen this but at some point I should since I've been doing this since July and my company has been tracking this.


  • Goodies for Iraqi Kids

    Date Published: 17 August 2004

    I wrote last month about how the Iraqi children come running and waving whenever we drive through villages, and how sometimes our troops have candy and stuff to throw to them. Since I have most of what I need to get by here, I told people wanting to send me stuff that they could send me stuff to give to the kids. My mom and a friend of my other mom's from Stow both sent me some big care packages…


  • Letters

    Date Published: 17 August 2004

    I got two letters this morning, one from my wife and one from my mom. One was sent on July 12th and the other on July 27th. So, as you can tell, the mail system is sometimes a bit flaky, but so far it seems like everything that's been sent has been getting to me, eventually.


  • Army Aphorisms

    Date Published: 15 August 2004

    Here's a few Army aphorisms I've picked up over the years and tend to live by: 1. “Sleep when you can” -- this is something every soldier should live by. Basically, you never know when you'll get your next chance to sleep, so take the opportunities when they present themselves. 2. “Semper Gumby” -- Loosely translated: Ever Flexible. It's usually pointless to plan anything more than a few days out…


  • Care Packages

    Date Published: 13 August 2004

    I got a couple of packages yesterday. The mail here is unpredictable, and usually only comes about 1-2 times per week. The average time is around 2 weeks. One package I got was sent 2 August (10 days), the other like 27 July (16 days). What sometimes happens is several containers of stuff will get staged at another location and newer stuff will block in older stuff (e.g. a stack scenario -- Last…


  • Happy Anniversary (to us)

    Date Published: 12 August 2004

    Not much new here. Today's my ninth wedding anniversary, so I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary and 'I love you' to Michelle. Hanging in there...


  • Fun 550 Cord Tricks

    Date Published: 07 August 2004

    A friend of mine from Kent State (hi jen) had one of these cool 550 paracord square braids on her keychain that interested me (a couple of years ago), but she didn't know how to make it, since it was a gift from someone she knew in the army. Having missed that particular class during my prior service, I was a bit bummed but didn't worry too much about it since I was out and all. Once I got called…


  • 1ID Article About Engineers Mission

    Date Published: 06 August 2004

    This article does a good job of summing up what my mission is here in Iraq. The Engineers and EOD…Working Together to Clear Iraq One IED at a Time


  • AK-47

    Date Published: 06 August 2004

    Got to play with an AK-47 earlier this week. It's got a lot more kick than the M16. It was fun to fire, though.


  • Paracord Square Weave Braid Rope

    Date Published: 06 August 2004

    I learned how to do this from another LT here in Iraq, who said he learned how to do it in the Boy Scouts. I'd seen a few of them on friends' key chains but they'd been given to them as gifts by folks they knew in the Army, so they didn't know how to do it. I tried to find how to do it on the Internet, but couldn't. Once my buddy showed me how to do it, though, it was pretty simple. To share it…


  • Road Trip Baghdad

    Date Published: 01 August 2004

    My platoon made a trip to a base in Baghdad this weekend to pick up some stuff. It was my first major convoy over here. Everything went pretty smoothly. We ended up leaving a day later than planned since the first day we made it about 2 hours out when my humvee's engine died, so we had to turn back with it in tow. The next day, though, the replacement humvee did fine. The base we went to had some…


  • Credit Cards and Phone Cards

    Date Published: 29 July 2004

    Some more FYI info for anybody getting called up... There are ATM machines as far as Kuwait, but none in Iraq that I've seen. For cash, you need to go to Finance and either cash a check or get a draw from your pay. Nobody in Iraq takes credit cards that I've seen. On the other hand, there's not all that much to buy... For telephone, nothing here beats the Segovia IP phones. You get about 10 hours…


  • Hot and Getting Hotter

    Date Published: 29 July 2004

    The forecast for the next 30 days is a daily low of 95 and highs in the 130s. Going to be the hottest part of the year. It doesn't really feel as hot now as it did when I first got in-country, but that's just because I'm acclimated, I think.


  • Iraqi Convoy Story/Poem

    Date Published: 29 July 2004

    The ArmyTimes published this story/poem that does a good job of describing the feelings and events that go into a convoy/mission for engineers here in Iraq.


  • Fun in the Sun

    Date Published: 27 July 2004

    It's been a few days since I've had a chance to post. Blew some stuff up today (yay!). I've been out on a few more missions in the meantime including one a couple of days ago that involved a decent amount of ordnance being destroyed. I got a decent little movie of it on my camera that you can view here (5mb). I'm also working on adding more pics to my galleries which you can see here. I'm working…


  • USA Today Seeking IRR Soldiers for Interviews

    Date Published: 24 July 2004

    Donna Leinwand contacted me yesterday about doing an interiew via email for USA Today, and asked if I would put her contact information on my website so that other IRR soldiers might contact her. I need to coordinate with Public Affairs before I agree to do an interview, and I recommend that any of you who wish to speak with her do the same thing. The PA office at Ft. Bliss was very helpful when I…


  • Pentagon Still Resists Increases in Army Active Duty Roster

    Date Published: 23 July 2004

    ArmyTimes reports Increase in troop strength could hamper modernization efforts. Quote: Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker renewed the Pentagon argument that the military can get through the current high level of deployments with temporary increases such as mobilizing more National Guard and Reserve forces and encouraging more soldiers to re-enlist at the end of their duty. Hmm, we've already mobilized just…


  • First Offbase Contact with Iraqis

    Date Published: 22 July 2004

    Well, I got my first experience with the locals today when we did a drive through a village area today. I was in the back of an APC in a small convoy; basically we were just patrolling and trying to find out what was in the area. One take-away I have is that the folks living there have it pretty rough. It occurred to me, for instance, that when talking about doing raids we always hear the term…


  • First Day Of Real Work

    Date Published: 21 July 2004

    Today was my first mission outside the base camp. I'm serving as a platoon leader for a combat engineer line platoon. There's actually a PL already here whom I'm shadowing until he leaves in a few weeks to become XO of another company. That's good because it means I can ease into things. Chris is also a PL in the same company. Today was a good day because I got an M16A4, magazines, and a full load…


  • A few more useful items

    Date Published: 20 July 2004

    1. FRS Radio and/or GPS. The Rino 120 works as both but chews through batteries. The radios can be useful for non-tactical usage on bases. 2. Name tapes - you'll want some extra ones of these for your bags, IBV (bulletproof vest), boonie hats, trousers (a lot of folks put them above the back pocket), etc. I know you can get them at FLW or Ft Bliss -- not sure if anywhere in Kuwait or Iraq does…


  • Update from Caldwell

    Date Published: 20 July 2004

    I found out yesterday that I'll be a line platoon leader, something I did back at C/112 in Columbus in Ohio, so I'm pretty comfortable with that. I'm actually excess at the moment, shadowing the current PL of the platoon, until he takes on an XO position in September. Which works out great since it gives me a good bit of time to get up to speed with operations here. It's also my kind of job since…


  • Made it to my Unit

    Date Published: 16 July 2004

    Finally managed to fly from Balad to my unit at Camp Caldwell. Checked in with my unit this morning. More to come later, but all's well here, and I may have the chance to unpack in another day or so (naturally they weren't expecting us here and have no housing for us yet).


  • My New Home Away From Home

    Date Published: 16 July 2004

    Ok, here's a bunch of publicly available info on Kirkush/Caldwell/Balad Ruz that I picked up over the last couple of weeks but didn't post because I didn't want to disclose where I was going until I got here for security reasons. Robert Alt describes his trip to FOB Caldwell in May 2004 A picture I found with Google (don't know who took it or when) NewsObserver posted this article just a few weeks…


  • HRC Update on IRR Callup

    Date Published: 14 July 2004

    Human Resources Command published this update on the IRR callup yesterday. Apparently thus far only 450 or so soldiers have been called up out of the 5600. The 5600 will be called over a period of time to allow the mobilization stations time and resources to process them. Now, if HRC actually cared about soldiers' lives, they would send all 5600 a heads-up so that people could plan their lives…


  • In the IRR? Email ABC News

    Date Published: 13 July 2004

    ABC News wants to hear from IRR soldiers to find out how they feel about possibly being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Contact them here. Also, the Norwich Bulleting wrote an opinion piece stating the obvious about the potential for a draft in the future -- but of course not before November's election. In other news, the Washington Times covers a shortage in officers presently, along with some oft…


  • Commentary and Pics from Iraq

    Date Published: 12 July 2004

    I found Robert Alt's blog and these pictures he took while in Iraq. His accounts seem to provide a more accurate depiction of life here than the CNN doom-and-gloom snippets we see every day. I'll try to take and post some pictures at some point, but for now it's discouraged where I'm located.


  • Note To Self - Beta Direct Downloads

    Date Published: 11 July 2004

    I tried the auto-installer while I was back at Fort Leonard Wood but although it seemed to go through just fine, no applications appeared anywhere for me to run. I ran across this while at the Internet cafe here in Iraq and wanted to make sure I didn't lose it so I could give it a shot when I reach my assigned unit (probably later this week): http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2004/07/0…


  • The IRR Bunch

    Date Published: 11 July 2004

    Captain Bunch was recently interviewed on CNN, and his family is quoted in this article, Reserves Brace For Call-Up Notices. He's with me now in Iraq. His CNN interview transcript is here. His story is a lot like mine, and he's also originally from Ohio. I missed the interview on CNN, though, since I was out-of-the-country... It sounds like it went really well, though.


  • What to Bring

    Date Published: 11 July 2004

    Most of the people I came over with brought most of what they thought they would need to the CRC in Ft Bliss. And most of these people bought a few more things at the Ft Bliss PX, or local shops. After getting a ton of gear issued to us at Ft Bliss, including 3 sets of long underwear and a pair of cold weather boots (on top of 2 pair of regular desert boots), most folks also ended up shipping at…


  • ArmyTimes Interview Published

    Date Published: 10 July 2004

    On July 12th the ArmyTimes published Recalled To Duty with references to their interview with me. Overall I'm happy with the article, but there are a couple of minor corrections I want to make for the record. It says I've been out for 2 years but it was really 3 -- I entered the Inactive National Guard (ING) in January 2001. The ING is the national guard equivalent to the IRR, but you can only be…


  • In Iraq

    Date Published: 10 July 2004

    I flew into Iraq a couple of days ago and haven't yet made it to my new home unit. Chris and I shipped together from Camp Doha Kuwait (camp wolverine was recently closed) into Balad along with a few Field Artillery IRR officers with stories somewhat similar to ours (except they had nice quarters at Ft Sill and actually received some refresher training, but not much). CPT Bunch, who was recently…


  • Kuwait

    Date Published: 06 July 2004

    Made it to Kuwait. Flight time was 5 hrs to Maine, 2 on the ground, 7 hrs to Frankfurt, Germany, 2 on the ground, 5 hours to Kuwait = 21 hours. Kuwait is strangely only an hour ahead of Germany, or 7 hours ahead of east coast USA. We arrived at about 1930 (7:30pm) and it was already dark. Sunrise/sunset are both very early here - I think the sun rose before 5am today. Right now it is very hot in…


  • Back in Bliss

    Date Published: 01 July 2004

    After a few days back in Ohio on a pass, I'm now back at Ft Bliss CRC. Should be shipping out to Kuwait in the next few days. Not much new here except that I got an email from somebody at CNN wanting to talk to me about my IRR callup experience. I'll have to talk to my chain of command and/or Army Public Affairs before I say anything to the media, but it's cool that CNN noticed me. More IRR Call…


  • Spoke With ArmyTimes Today

    Date Published: 01 July 2004

    I spoke with Jane McHugh from the ArmyTimes today and may be featured there in an upcoming story about IRR callups. Hopefully I didn't make a fool of myself or anything - we'll see how my comments come out when taken in bits and pieces. I'm not sure if it would be in the print version - I'm assuming this would be just an online story. The gist of it was just to get a feeling for my experience as…


  • Update on 5600 soldiers to be called in July

    Date Published: 01 July 2004

    http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=23063 In the sidebar, this articles points out: How many IRR soldiers have already been mobilized? 541; of those, 324 are on active duty, and 217 are awaiting training. So, clearly the mobilization that will take place next week is not the first of the IRRs who are being called. They've been saying that up to this point, all of the IRRs that…


  • ArmyTimes Army prepares to call up Individual Ready Reserve Members (this is news?)

    Date Published: 30 June 2004

    A quote from this ArmyTimes article: Here’s the gist of a call-up message the Army is preparing to give the Individual Ready Reserve: “If you’re in the IRR, get ready.” So said Maj. Kris Carle, a spokesman for the Department of the Army. Tomorrow (30 June 2004) at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time the Army will announce details about a call-up of IRR personnel, she said. Apparently there will be a big news…


  • More IRR Callup Info

    Date Published: 30 June 2004

    Fox23News Reports One Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as few as 2,000 IRR soldiers might actually be assigned to units preparing to deploy abroad. Army Public Affairs Announcement Stars and Stripes About 2,100 IRR soldiers already have been activated, but those have been volunteers, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s chief for personnel matters, told…


  • Big News In Iraq

    Date Published: 28 June 2004

    The transfer of power in Iraq has taken place, 2 days early. This is certainly good news since without a big, planned event to target, the insurgents will be less able to wreak havoc. And of course, it means they cannot keep the transfer from taking place.


  • Good Stuff To Bring To Iraq (so I'm told)

    Date Published: 25 June 2004

    I've talked to a lot of people who have returned from a tour in Iraq and one of the questions I like to ask them is “What is the one thing you weren't issued that you wouldn't want to live without over there?”. Here are a couple of things I've heard (and since picked up for myself): 1. A good leg holster (if you're carrying a pistol). Having the pistol in a belt holster is uncomfortable, takes up…


  • On Hold

    Date Published: 25 June 2004

    Most of the people in my CRC cycle shipped out today. About a dozen of us are on hold for various reasons. In my case, there was some confusion that didn't come about until late Thursday as to whether our orders indicated that we should report directly to Iraq or to McDill AFB first (near Tampa, FL). After speaking with McDill today, they said they don't need to see us and we can go straight over…


  • Pentagon Comments on IRRs going to Iraq

    Date Published: 25 June 2004

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/06/24/pentagon.troops/index.html Looks like I'm one of the critical skills Engineers being called up.


  • Weapons Qual

    Date Published: 24 June 2004

    Qualified on the M9 pistol today (again). The Ft. Bliss range nice and the instructor was top-notch. I think he significantly helped my accuracy with the pistol. Otherwise, not much new. Got back my DCUs from alterations and immediately gave them to another place to sew on my rank and branch insignias. Should have them back tomorrow.


  • CRC - Ft. Bliss

    Date Published: 23 June 2004

    If you are an IRR soldier or otherwise think you'll be going to Ft. Bliss CRC, you should read all the information available on their website, here: http://www.bliss.army.mil/LocalUnitLinks/5035thMobilization/CRC/index.htm In particular, the schedule is more-or-less outlined here. So far my experience at Ft. Bliss CRC has been a very positive one. They are squared away and organized and know what…


  • Made It To Bliss

    Date Published: 22 June 2004

    After many cancelled and delayed and missed flights Sunday, I made it into Ft. Bliss CRC. Monday started at 0400 and was a long, busy day of SRPs and first aid classes. Today started at 0500 and will include equipment issue and NBC training. First formation is at 0545, in 5 minutes, so I've got to run.


  • Senate OKs more troops for Army

    Date Published: 19 June 2004

    The Houston Chronicle reports. Ironically, the pentagon is fighting this move. Personally, I think it is pretty obvious that the Army needs more people. The fact that we're dipping into the IRR soldiers, the last reserve pool there is short of a total draft, is evidence enough that we do not have the people we need. We also need the right kinds of troops. Given the fact that most of our conflicts…


  • CIF Complete

    Date Published: 18 June 2004

    I returned to CIF this morning with MAJ Huard as my unit representative. I managed to find Chris' clothing issue receipt and so, having met all of the criteria required by the CIF personnel, the two of us managed to get through the turn-in in just under fifteen minutes. It was actually rather funny, since one of the workers there was pretty rude to Major Huard, prompting us to discuss whether…


  • Kuwait Info

    Date Published: 18 June 2004

    It sounds like if/when I get to Kuwait, I'll be passing through an APOD, or Arial Point of Debarcation, called Camp Wolverine. It doesn't sound like there's any way into Iraq for soldiers except via this camp. Michelle forwarded me this Stars and Stripes article describing what to expect.


  • More IRR Info - If you joined a unit and want back out, you can

    Date Published: 18 June 2004

    Andrew Carr emailed me this story: Voluntary Assignment of Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers to Army Reserve Troop Program Units Basically, if someone pressured you into joining a unit to avoid getting called up while in the IRR, you can change your mind.


  • My sympathies to Paul Johnson's family

    Date Published: 18 June 2004

    I learned that Paul Johnson was murdered today from CNN in the mess hall. I was deeply saddened and angered by this tragic act. I wish something could have been done to prevent it, and the only thing I could think of that might make people who do this take heed is to turn the tables on them. If they demand the release of Al Qaeda prisoners from Saudi prisons and the removal of westerners from the…


  • A Note About DCUs

    Date Published: 17 June 2004

    DCU (Desert Combat Uniforms) are not issued to IRR soldiers at Ft. Leonard Wood if the soldiers are going to a CRC. In theory, we'll get our DCUs at the CRC. My unit here at FLW sent us over to CIF (clothing issue facility) twice to pick up DCUs, and both times we were turned away. If you're an IRR soldier at FLW and you're going to be going to a CRC prior to Iraq, save yourself some wasted time…


  • Country Brief

    Date Published: 17 June 2004

    One of the many 'check-the-block' items we have/had to complete at our mobilization station prior to going to a CRC (and from there to Kuwait and then Iraq) is something called a country brief, given by some military intelligence folks. This, I'm learning the hard way, is a mandatory thing that we cannot ship without. It is also something that, in our case, could not be given any earlier than…


  • More Frustrations with CIF

    Date Published: 17 June 2004

    As an FYI for other IRR soldiers and perhaps as an tip for those folks tasked with mobilizing soldiers, here's some things to remember about CIF (clothing issue facility), at least at Ft. Leonard Wood. Expect half of your trips there to be a complete waste of time (perhaps not so many if you follow the rest of these tips) For soldiers, no matter what your rank, you need to bring a unit…


  • Still no orders - but I'm going to Ft Bliss for CRC

    Date Published: 17 June 2004

    In the last couple of days I still have not received my orders, which means I haven't been able to schedule my travel, but that should happen tomorrow. I do know that I'm going to Ft. Bliss as my CRC, which means the appropriate info is here. And I know I'm leaving on Sunday - it's just the details that are still up in the air. I tried to get some folks to nail down for me exactly where I'm going…


  • Keeping up with this site

    Date Published: 14 June 2004

    This post is for my mom, and for anybody else who has found this site to be of interest and is checking it daily (or more than daily) to see if I've posted any news. I just want to share with everyone some information about tools that will automatically let you know whenever I post something new, and in fact these tools can also be used to notify you when things of interest happen on other sites…


  • No Orders Yet

    Date Published: 14 June 2004

    Not much going on today. Michelle's come out to visit and is staying through Wednesday morning. My fellow IRR LT Chris is going back home on pass later this week and returning Saturday. We still haven't received our orders telling us where we'll be stationed or what we'll be doing, but I expect those to come tomorrow. Chris had some more dental appointments today and I had a vision exam as a…


  • Several Thousand IRRs scheduled to come through FLW

    Date Published: 14 June 2004

    I've learned that Ft Leonard Wood is expecting another several thousand IRR soldiers to come through the post, though I'm not sure what the timeframe is. This year, I'm pretty sure; probably in the next few months, if I were to guess. That's just what's scheduled -- I was supposed to be here with 4 other LT's and instead there's just 2 of us, so 40% showed up. So, if that holds true there's…


  • Minor Update - Leaving FLW June 20th

    Date Published: 11 June 2004

    Having wrapped up our CTT, medical, and administrative stuff pretty much the first week and a half we were here, the only thing left on our to-do list at our mobilization station (here at Ft. Leonardwood) is to do some “Engineer Refresher Training”. Unfortunately, there has been no semblance of a plan for that (as has been the case with most everything else we've encountered here), and so pretty…


  • Free Videoconferencing and Net2Phone Calling to Iraqistan

    Date Published: 09 June 2004

    According to this ArmyTimes article, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will begin getting access to facilities offering free access to net videoconferencing and phone usage this month. About 40,000 troops are to be covered by the initial collection of facilities, which are being funded by a charity called the Freedom Calls Foundation.


  • More Info On IRR Callups

    Date Published: 07 June 2004

    The Duluth News Tribune Reports (on 5/19/04): The Army on Tuesday confirmed that it pulled the files of about 17,000 people in the Individual Ready Reserve, the nation's pool of former soldiers. The Army has been screening them for critically needed specialists and has called about 100 of them since January. Under the authorization from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Army could call as…


  • Update - Weapons Qual

    Date Published: 05 June 2004

    We were scheduled to do M9 Pistol qual yesterday and M16 today, but luckily we managed to get in both qualifications yesterday. Chris, my fellow IRR LT, and I both qualified on both weapons. We'll be doing so again at the CRC, I think. We also found out we'll be doing some mine and booby trap training in the next couple of weeks, up through 16 June, which makes me think our departure date to a CRC…


  • CRC Info

    Date Published: 04 June 2004

    Upon completing my requirements here at Ft. Leonard Wood, my next stop will be a CRC, which stands for CONUS Replacement Center. The military loves acronyms, and this one is an acronym of an acronym. CONUS is short for CONtinental United States. Anyway, the CRC is the last stop for deploying individuals, and is where they return once they come home. I don't know exactly where I'll be going (which…


  • Wow, somebody admits that some IRRs are being called...

    Date Published: 03 June 2004

    Until recently, all the press I read had Army officials denying that IRR soldiers were being activated, claiming rather that IRRs were only being screened. However, the New York Times reports: Also, for the first time in more than a decade, the Army is combing through the Individual Ready Reserve, the nation's pool of former soldiers, looking for specialists with critically needed skills. So far…


  • CTT Schedule

    Date Published: 02 June 2004

    Things are moving along slowly but surely. We had Monday off for Memorial Day, then yesterday pretty much all we did was go over some land warfare and geneva convention classes, then we were off doing medical appointments. Today was more CTT (common task training) and a medical threat briefing at the hospital. Most of the CTT was self-taught from some powerpoints, with the exception of some…


  • Bummed I missed TechEd

    Date Published: 01 June 2004

    Dave Sussman's pictures reminded me today how much I really wish I'd been at TechEd last week. Hopefully I'll make it next year. So far in Missouri things are proceeding very slowly with my mobilization processing - see some pictures and info at ArmySteve.com. We'll probably be here another two weeks, and later this week we'll be doing M9 and M16 qualification, so at least that's something more…


  • In-Processing

    Date Published: 26 May 2004

    I managed to find a place to use the Internet at the Education Center on post. I'll try to post something every few days while I'm here. I know several other LT's and a great many more enlisted soldiers are being called up from the IRR, so I thought I'd use this opportunity to share some of my initial experiences. There's nothing very exciting here unless you're really interested in how in…


  • Arrived at Fort Leonard Wood

    Date Published: 24 May 2004

    Michelle, Ilyana, and I got to St. Louis Friday night and drove the rest of the way to Ft. Leonard Wood on Saturday (May 22). We got in around 1300, met up with a sergeant I was supposed to call who took us to where I'll be staying while I'm here. I posted a few pictures in a gallery here. When I was here for EOBC (Engineer Officer Basic Course), I stayed at a place called Morelli Heights, which…


  • More IRR Callup Info

    Date Published: 20 May 2004

    Michelle writes a bit about the current, supposedly not involuntary, callup, here. An interesting set of comments can be found on OutsideTheBeltway. One quote includes: They are utilizing the IRR in three phases. Phase I 1-17 May IRR soldiers are asked to join a drilling unit Phase II 17May-1June Soldiers are involintarily transfered to Units Phase III 1 Jun-TBD Non Obligars (Veterans + Retired…


  • Last Minute Business

    Date Published: 19 May 2004

    Things have been getting increasingly stressful at the Smith house of late. This week we're getting ready to close on a house we're buying (closing tomorrow) with the intent of moving in once I return. We were planning on buying it in a year, but since interest rates are so low now and since my situation is up-in-the-air, we opted to close now. We're still not moving for at least a year, though…


  • Update - One Week To Go

    Date Published: 15 May 2004

    My Garmin Rino 120 GPS/Radio arrived yesterday. It works. Out-of-the-box it shows the major roads in Kent, OH, but none of the city streets (just state routes). I guess you can order maps on CDs but I haven't figured that part out yet. It supports Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) which is most important to me at the moment. Maybe once I'm home from duty I'll want it more for US street…


  • Back In Uniform

    Date Published: 12 May 2004

    So, we got my uniforms out of storage last week and so today I finally went through the bins and found my old uniforms. Tried one on, and amazingly enough, it still fits! They do seem to have shrunk a bit in storage, though... Most of them are pretty worn, so I'll probably need to buy one or two new ones in the next few days. I don't want to buy too many woodland camo BDUs, though, since I'll…


  • Massive Reserve Callup

    Date Published: 12 May 2004

    I got a memorandum yesterday from a local career counselor sergeant that had some very interesting news in it: "This office has received official notification that all current members of the IRR will be involuntarily transferred to a troop program unit. First priority will be to transfer soldiers to mobilizing units. Second priority will be to fill the remaining units not currently deploying. This…


  • Two Weeks To Go

    Date Published: 08 May 2004

    This has been a pretty busy week. I had meant to get a bunch of dev work done on AspAlliance.com, but that didn't happen. We spent wednesday getting a bunch of stuff out of storage, including all of my army gear. Hopefully I have most of what I'll need. I still have to find my beret and figure out how to wear it, since when I got out the uniform headgear was still the BDU cap. I did manage to go…


  • Laptops and School News

    Date Published: 01 May 2004

    I spoke to a Captain in Leonardwood yesterday at the Training Support Battalion (TSB) where I”ll be for my stay there. She was able to answer a few of my questions. I'm welcome to bring a laptop to FLW but she has no idea where I'll be billeting or whether I'll have the ability to get to the Internet (she knows I won't be allowed to use a personal laptop on the army network). She also wasn't so…


  • Current Concerns

    Date Published: 29 April 2004

    Ok, so it's been three days since we learned that I'm being activated. What have we been up to? Well, one of our biggest concerns has been that I'll end up some place dangerous without the proper equipment. Many soldiers, especially reservists, appear to be getting the shaft when it comes to proper gear, prompting some to buy their own armor for Iraq duty. To that end, yesterday I went to a local…


  • So It Begins...

    Date Published: 29 April 2004

    This is my first post to this blog, which I've just set up. I'm going to try and maintain it while I go through my deployment, but of course there will be times when I'm not able to access the Internet. I've set up my wife, Michelle, with a blog here as well, and she'll be able to post news and other stuff when I'm not online. As a bit of background information, I enlisted in the Army in 1995 as a…


  • Duty Calls...

    Date Published: 28 April 2004

    Upon returning from a fun Connections conference in Orlando last week, followed by a couple of days at Disney with my wife and daughter, I learned that I am being called up from my current reserve status to active duty in the US Army. My orders require that I report to Ft. Leonard-Wood, Missouri on 22 May 2004 for a period of 365 days (unless extended). Here's some more info about my military…


Browse all categories

Ardalis

Copyright © 2020