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February 15, 2012

FOB Life, Everybody Needs a Thrill

I wake sometimes in the middle of the night (during those oh-dark-early hours of the morning) unsure of where I am. Confused, I reach out expecting to find my wife or one of the kids but my hand only swipes at the empty darkness. From somewhere behind the T-wall, the loud diesel knocking-whistle of an MRAP not-so-gently reminds me of where I am. The sound of the forced hot air blowing in my face only confirms it. I'm in my twin bed...in a tent...in Afghanistan. ::Sigh::

When last I wrote, we were waiting for our plane at Bagram Air Field (BAF). Like caged animals we spent four additional days pacing the transient tent that was our living quarters waiting for our flight to the FOB. This was after the initial three days we suffered through getting more training on things we'd already been trained on twice - MRAP egress, Counter-IED, counter-boredom. "It only really counts in country" we were told by the civilian contractors. Um...yeah...whatever - how's that paycheck?

Back to the transient tent. These are 500-pax (passengers) tents - the military equivalent of the petri dish that is daycare. Bunks are 12"-15" apart and each aisle is approximately 36" wide. The mattress you sleep on has been slept on by more troops than I dare imagine. It makes a No-Tell Motel look like a W Hotel. There are no linens so if you dont have your woobie or a sleeping bag, try not to think about it much and you might be able to sleep.

Flights to and from FOBs are hit or miss. You might be manifested to leave today, but every day is a crap shoot. We were told one morning that we were leaving that afternoon only to be told two hours later that that flight had been scrubbed. I was seated on a C-130 one morning just about to buckle my seatbelt when we were told the plane was no longer going to our FOB and we were to exit the craft. "I knew it!" I yelled. "I told you we weren't leaving today!" I shouldn't have gloated so much as our bags, packed, palletized and ready to go, remained where they were as we went back to transient hell. Ah, karma, you fickle spiteful bitch.

Finally, on day 7 in country we boarded a flight. Has anyone here seen Air America? Yeah, that's what I was reminded of when we got on the plane. We reached an altitude of about 7,000 feet - high enough to get over the mountains, but low enough that we could still pick out small villages and whatnot on the ground below. It was a breathtaking flight. A virtually barren wilderness seemingly untouched by civilization was laid out beneath us. A place out of time as it were. I imagine the area hasn't changed much since Genghis Khan and the Mongol horde blazed their way through in the early 13th century. I'll leave it at that for fear that any attempt to describe it more fully would fall short.

We reached our destination in about 45 minutes and life on the FOB began. In my next post, I will introduce you to the FOB and our cast of characters - those fine young men I will be working with for the remaining eight months. And what a motley crew they are.

mr. big dubya, RC-East, Afghanistan



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