Well, it took me a while, but I made it down to Kuwait. We spent 8 hours sitting on the flight line on Ramadi waiting on the helicopter that would take us to Camp Taqqadum and one step closer to home. Somewhere around 3am, we were told that flights into Ramadi were canceled for the night due to weather, and that we would take a ground convoy instead. The convoy was supposed to be Cougars and Humvees- instead, it turned out to be Humvees and HETs. The HET is basically a Mack tractor trailer with armor plating on the sides; we stuffed the back of the cab with soldiers because there wasn't enough room in the Humvees to carry all of us. The guys taking us to TQ were from the Transportation section of our replacing unit- they had been up for 24 hours already by the time they picked us up, with two missions already under their belts for the day. It was a bad situation, and looking worse- we had to take the long, narrow road that runs south of Ramadi between two of central Iraq's large lakes, rather than the straight shot east from Ramadi. The southern route is normally pretty quiet, but lately has had some bombs; the northern route has been quiet for months and is 90 minutes quicker.
It could have been a bad night, but it turned out pretty well. One of the few tense moments for me was when our driver suddenly took the Humvee through a long chain of potholes. The conversation went like this:
"Hey, stay out of those!"
"Why, what's the big deal, man?"
"Those aren't potholes, those are blast holes!"
"Yeah, and the thing about this screwed up country is that they like to put new bombs where the old bombs were. If I get blown up one more time, I'm gonna have to kill someone, and the bombers are awfully hard to find."
We made it, though, and after a day and a night sitting in TQ, we caught a flight south to Kuwait. The comedy of errors continued there- the officials at Ali al Saleem airf force base had no idea that were were coming, nowhere to put us, and no way to get us to where we needed to go. We sat for four hours in a parking lot full of buses, complete with drivers, while the powers that be tried to find us the mandatory escort personell. We finally made it to our next stop around 1am.
Since I've been in Kuwait, I've been relaxing. I slept half the day today, and took a long shower (all notices to take water saving "combat showers" be damned!) (a digression: the Army has an annoying tendency to use "combat" as a ridiculous prefix, e.g. "combat fueler", "combat shower", "combat camera". Leave the combat prefix to people, jobs and events that actually involve the thrill and terro of combat, k?)
I've been watching the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker to Congress in the USO building here. No big surprises there. They reported the simple truths and pleas for more time- the ladies and gentlemen of the hearing seemed to barely listen. It seemed to me that Mr. Lantos tried a little too hard to force the appearance of a division between Gen Petraeus and other military commanders. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen needs to learn how to form a question. The full report tomorrow might be a trifle more interesting, but I doubt it.