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 interviewed on CNN, is here with me. A few of the FA guys' orders kept them here - the others plus Chris and me are waiting for a ride out of here to our destination, which is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere from what I can tell.
You hear before coming out here how hot it is and how that is the biggest thing you need to try to prepare for. Well, it's true, but I really don't think you can conceive of how hot it is until you've been here. I really don't know why anybody would choose to live here if they could avoid it. We thought it would be cooler coming north from Kuwait but if anything it's hotter. Our first two nights here (and days) we spent in tents with a few A/C units that were completely useless unless you sat directly under them. The tents were actually hotter inside than it was outside - probably around 120-140 inside them. The heat really drains the life out of you, but it is something you can get used to, I think, and we're starting to adjust. We managed to snag some a/c sleeping quarters today, though, so we're happy about that.
The FA guys who reported here found a warm welcome, but were not expected. The unit had had a need for FA officers last November but had long since filled them. Those guys have been given work to do in line with their civilian skills. Hopefully we'll be as lucky, but it does make us wonder how 'critical' the need was to bring us here since the units we're going to don't know we're coming and don't have slots to fill for our specialties. We'll see if our unit is any different.
Anyway, it's not too scary here aside from the killer heat. There are mortar attacks with some frequency but the base is huge and there are bunkers all over, so I think the likelihood of being hit is close to the same as being struck by lightning (I can hope, anyway). Still, keeping my head down and trying not to melt while we figure out a way to get to our unit from here.
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Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.