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12 Apr 2009
287 Sustainment Brigade in the news
In February, a film crew visited Basra and recorded some of things our forward logistics element (FLE) does here. This aired in a news segment early April called the Pentagon Files, produced by SPC Bemis.

Now, just two short months later, everything has changed! Certainly the Heavy Hitters are still just as capable, and every bit as busy, but Basra has grown into a much larger base, with a Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), a movement control team, a cargo company and more.
ACI , Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  12:48 | permalink | trackbacks [178]

6 Apr 2009
Soccer vs. Football
The British forces here are huge fans of soccer, as is the rest of the world except good old USA. Of course, our big sport is football. It’s interesting that “football” means soccer everywhere else in the world but the United States. I recently asked myself what analogies soccer vs. football would have to US vs. UK military operations.

For starters, soccer is a continuous moving game, with both sides constantly engaged in both offense and defense. Player substitutions are barely noticed, happening throughout the game.

US Football, on the other hand, involves careful, deliberate planning. There is tremendous violence of action, and then both sides go back to a huddle and plan the next action. After four tries to score or advance the ball, offense switches with defense, and brings out a different set of players.

Applied to the military operations in Basra, the UK has rotated soldiers through Iraq in 4 to 6 month individual deployments, much more often (continuous flow) than the US moving entire brigades at a time.

Now I am going to break away from the US versus UK comparison to continue the soccer versus football analogy. What about keeping score? A good soccer match score is something like 2 to 3. A good football game is 23 to 48. Purely by the numbers, football accomplishes much more in its violent, carefully planned operations.

Soccer only has one way to score: get the ball in the goal. Football has touchdowns, field goals, extra points, 2 point conversions and safeties. In war, the old-school way to win was to destroy troops or targets. But the new full spectrum of combined operations ranges from full scale land, sea and space warfare to stability and peacekeeping operations, where the way to win is through the hearts and minds of the people. The weapons include information, money, infrastructure improvements and stable governance. In stability operations, there really aren’t any losers as the military exits and the country enjoys unprecedented peace and economic prosperity. In football, even the loosing playoff team walks away with several million dollars!
Army Deployment , General
posted by  henry at  11:42 | permalink | comments [43] | trackbacks [988]

2 Apr 2009
COB Basra overview

I’ve been contacted by a few soldiers and contractors headed to Basra, so I wanted to take the opportunity of yesterday’s historic transition from UK to US forces, to refresh an overview of our happy home.

PX (store): We have a PX the size of a Dollar General store, or less. A bigger PX is being built late this summer.

Internet for individuals is sketchy at best right now. Sniper Hill might set something up. I personally have worked a deal with the local Internet Café to beam about 100K/sec to a shared office, where 5 of us are using it at $75 each right now.

CHUs (10x10 room)- still being brought in daily. Right now, the crowding on the COB has necessitated 3 people to a CHU for O4 and below. O5, like me, 2 to a CHU, if you get one at all. Tents is what most soldiers are in right now. For contractors, it will depend on where and who you work for as a contractor. They've got some CHU accommodations, typically with a roommate.

DFAC (Dining Facility): converted from UK to US today. There are some growing pains going on with this, but it’s getting better each meal.

MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation): we used to have a tent with movies, games, phones to call home, and free computer use. It went bye-bye mid-March for the sake of bedspace. AT&T has just set up a trailer near DFAC IV, and in the next few months, an entire DFAC is going to be converted to an MWR and Gym. We get USO/MWR sponsored celebrity visits about twice a month. A comedian group and rock band are both on this month’s schedule.

Mail: Mail arrives 3 times a week. In May, we’re preparing for daily shipments. The Stars and Stripes newspaper comes with it, generally about a week old.

Flights: both helo and fixed wing serve Basra pretty regularly. Space-A is the norm. Going anywhere usually averages taking 3 days, even though it's a 1-2 hour flight.

Force protection: I won't say specifics, but suffice it to say we're doing a lot better than one year ago during the surge and battle of Basra. Still, Basra is the 2nd largest city in Iraq, with a population between 1.4 and 2.2 million, by various reports.

ACI , Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  11:16 | permalink | trackbacks [279]

1 Apr 2009
News flash: British turns COB over to U.S., Revokes US independence
The British forces have been exceedingly polite as US troops move into Basra. By nature, they’re very polite people, but I’ve discovered a hidden plot: the UK is revoking our independence. In a proclamation secretly assembled last Spring (while we were busy bumbling around with the election), our British “friends” devised a clever plan: distract us with Basra while concurrently re-colonizing America. At great personal risk, I’ve decided to publish this plot, just to see if anyone cares.

The proclamation starts off:

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

See the entire revocation of independence document for yourself (PDF, 62 KB)
ACI , Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  08:00 | permalink | trackbacks [2178]

29 Mar 2009
Sunday go to Meeting
If I haven’t said it directly, let me be clear- this job has been non-stop since arriving in Basra. Typically, the day starts at 7am and goes to 10pm, 7 days a week. In addition, there are late-night or early-morning missions for supporting our convoy soldiers. So as you can imagine, the days start to run together. A highlight for me has become the weekly modern protestant service. Chaplain Chang from the 793rd MP Battalion leads a 1 hour service that includes hymns (thankfully, we soon got guitar players, because a cappella was NOT pretty). In this short video clip, you can see we have a screen projector (you can’t go anywhere in the Army without PowerPoint!), and a 2x4 wooden cross. Of course, the communion linen is Army khaki, and we even have Bibles with the digital camouflage pattern.

Other welcomed breaks from the long days include working out in the gym or running inside the COB. We used to have an MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) tent, but recently had to give it up for bedspace. Another, bigger MWR facility is being built, though. So given the alternatives, being at work all waking hours is the logical place to be.
Army Deployment , Family , General
posted by  henry at  04:17 | permalink | trackbacks [370]

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