Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ready! Fire! Aim!

Last week I was at my desk, minding my own business, when the shop sergeant asks me “Hey, sir. You know you’re moving to a new unit in three days?” This was news to me! I immediately hunted down one of the many colonels I work for and confirmed that yes, I was moving in three days.

A number of questions came up:
Who am I replacing? Who’s replacing me? What will I be doing? Will this affect my leave? How do I get down there?

I got zero answers from anyone! No one had a clue why this was happening, or if they did they didn’t want to share. So, I cleaned out my desk and packed up my crap. I finagled my way onto a convoy of virgin MRAPs heading to the new base.

Moving is never a fun experience for me. I moved around a lot as a kid, and it always meant leaving friends. This time was no different. Plus, all the uncertainty in this move did not leave me confident at all.

I get down to the new base, and no one knows what the hell is going on. After a few days chilling out in a windowless trailer, I pushed out to my new assignment.

The base I’m at has got to be the FOB At The End Of The Universe. It looks like it was bombed yesterday. Literally. The gym is only surviving room in a building the USAF dropped a bomb on. I live in a plywood shack. The Iraqi Army compound is easy to find, just follow the smell of raw sewage (Yum-o!)

Still, this could be worse. At one point, during my first tour, I lived at a place called FOB Duke. FOB Duke was one of Saddam’s old arms depots. There was nothing there but sand and a few bunkers. Remember Tatooine from Star Wars? Looks just like that. We had a slit trench and three port-a-potties for several hundred soldiers. We all slept next to the vehicles with no protection from the elements.

No one knew what the purpose of the FOB was, until the first morning. Everything was perfectly normal until KA-BOOM, a huge explosion rocked everyone. I looked over in the direction of the blast, and saw a huge mushroom cloud. I kid you not. There were thousands of tons of munitions that a contractor was blowing up on a regular basis. No one bothered to tell me about that little fact until after the explosion. Doh.

Anyway, so long as I have walls, electricity and food that doesn’t come in a plastic bag, I’m doing all right.

The reason for the sudden officer shuffle is genitalia. Female soldiers are not allowed to fill certain positions in combat units. The battalion I moved to had a female officer in a position she shouldn’t have been in (but was doing a fine job). Someone somewhere raised a stink about a female soldier in a position she wasn’t supposed to be in. Once the dreaded words “15-6 Investigation” start circulating, suddenly every unit realizes they may have someone in a position they shouldn’t be, and there’s a race to fix everything. So, here I am.

Yeah, this is retarded and not the way to manage people. One more week until I make a break for Birkenstocks and facial hair.

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