Today I am going to talk about the living and working conditions for my unit here in Iraq. Before I start this blog I first need to say not to assume that this is the way that everyone lives or works, every unit is different . . and I mean that literally, every unit lives differently, has different "anemities", different schedules, different jobs, so this is just for one simple unit in Iraq.
The Camps, or FOB's -- We started our tour working in a huge building in Camp Victory . .one of the biggest, nicest bases in Iraq. Many would say it is a resort compared to the others. In fact I know several units that send people to Victory for rewards, for a few days off. Camp Victory is attached to Camp Liberty, Stryker, and BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). The three are connected so you do not "leave the wire" to travel to the next. Many people have normal vehicles to travel in, mostly you see Ford Explorers and Chevy Trailblazers. There are several swimming pools, several movie theaters, several dining facilities (so far the best dining facilities in Iraq (my opinion)), several small "PX's" (post exchanges), similar to a convenience store, and one very large PX, similar to a super wal-mart. They also have several huge gym's, and other various places for morale.
Later we moved and are now at a different much smaller FOB. This one is about 2 miles wide by 1 mile long (est.). We only have 2 dining facilities, much smaller less selection. We have 1 PX located in the back of a tractor trailer and 1 that is about the size of a small gas station. The selection of stuff is very limited and usually out of stock due to the massive amount of troops vs. the very small shipments that they receive. As of right now most of the stuff that i need to buy I just order on line or have my wife send me. We have no chapels here on camp yet, one is coming soon, right now we use the dining facilities between meals. We also have 2 very small gyms, one with and one without AC, (which is one amenity that you cannot live without over here). That about covers it for the bases.
The work areas (unit specific) -- Some would say that I got lucky this tour (in fact almost everyone but me) says I got lucky, im in an office. Here's what I can say about the work area's. We started in a really nive big headquarters building. We had office space simular to what you would see in a movie . .cubicle after cubicle. Not really much to say about it. Not as clean as you may picture as sand storms and dust collect so quickly that it is almost impossible to keep everything clean. This includes computers, they need to be dis-assembled about every two months to ensure the vents are not clogged. other than that it is the typical office with cubicles.
When we moved it started the same way, we were in a large building full of cubicles again. Since then as our unit was deemed not important enough (I suppose), we moved into what we call "our little trailer park". We found some make shift trailers, and luckily we have a Carpenter on staff. We found little pieces of scrap wood all over the camp and have used it to re-make our floors, desks, shelves, anything else that is needed. Talk about finding a way to make anything work. It actually looks pretty nice. Kinda funny since it is the same wood, the wood matches the flooring (with the exception of my trailer, we found real flooring for it). Here is a pic of me in the office.
The living areas -- This was the most drastic change for us. We started living in "CHU's". Central Housing Units. They are nice . . . two person rooms with just enough room for two single beds, two wall lockers, and a shelf with a tv on it. I'd say about half the size of your typical hotel room (well a hotel room on my budget). However when we moved half us got to move into CHU's here, the other half (myself included) live in tents. Tents . . . in the middle of the desert . . . well it could be worse. The tents were originally from the British and had what was called "coffins" for your bed. They were small bunkers in the floor with concrete blocks surrounding it . .I guess it was safe but not very comfortable. Anyway there are about eight people per tent so its not real bad but no privacy anymore . . .not like I expected any when I joined the military anyway. But it is livable. Still cant wait to get back to real houses and real stores and most importantly . . .my family.
Hopefully this gives a bit of insight to the living conditions . . .any questions feel free to ask. I tell you what I can. Anyway, thats all I have for today . . see you in the next one.