Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sleeping in Hell

After five days in a row of having the power go out every afternoon around 1 pm, we finally seem to have consistent electricity again. Hopefully the juice stays on- it's hard to stay up on sleep for nighttime missions when the power continually goes out during the hottest part of the day (and during the time we have for sleeping). I talked with the lead KBR electrician who was sent to fix the problems as they arose each day- it seems there are a number of reasons for the difficulties. First, the electrical system is a hash of several different standards: US, British, and one or two Middle Eastern. ME triangular cable does not fit well into round receptacle American circuit breakers. Secondly, the generator is a different model than the in service in most areas. When the generator goes down, there are often no spare parts to fix it immediately. Lastly, the KBR electricians are short on correct tools. Apparently, KBR has enough money to pay their workers the exhorbent sums required to retain them in spite of the danger and poor conditions, but not enough to equip them properly. Normally, blatant, soulless capitalism doesn't concern me much- the open market usually produces a contractor who is capable of providing decent service. In a closed-bid world such as the one enjoyed by KBR in Iraq, where almost all non-combat support roles are contracted- from food service to laundry to electricity to latrine supply and maintenance, it is unlikely that KBR will lose a contract simply because it will not spend the money to keep a few soldiers in power for 5-6 hours every afternoon.

Not that I am bitter.

Viva la monopoly!


  1. And according to testimony I saw last night, it's all temporary. God forbid some build something permanent.

  2. Anonymous29/7/07 05:31

    Sounds as if you have every right to be bitter! Visiting family in Tucson during the 110 degree heat, I had renewed respect for you all in Iraq. A man needs his sleep!

  3. Maybe the same people that programmed the crashed Mar Surveyor are in charge of electricity supply for your unit.

    A simple conversion of metrics to inches was the cause of the crash.

    That brings up another pet peeve of mine. Why cant phone keys be aligned to the number keys on computer keyboards?


    Keep up the good work. I hope that these electrical problems get fixed soon.

  4. My bet is that KBR spends lots of money on tools, but the hitch is probably with the person who orders and deals with such stuff - maybe even the head electrician. It is much easier to blame the big dogs than take responsibilty for pissing off a bunch of soldiers. I think this guy needs a lesson in adapting and overcoming.

  5. Go ahead, be bitter for a little while. You are hot and sleep deprived. Hopefully, something gets dones so the electricity stays on until it gets cooler.

  6. I feel your pain man. The JSS facility that we stay out has the same problems. Especially now that the heat is getting up there the generator goes down every afternoon. Unfortunately we have no KBR personel to help.

    We have to call Iraqi generator repairmen to come have a look. Usually its just due to overheating and once it cools down then we can get it running.

    Recently they added city power to our facility and the past few days it has been up for hours and hours, most importantly durring the hottest time of day so we haven't felt the crunch. But there have been past rotations where we've gone the better part of 2 weeks without electricity, going out doing missions and patrols on a daily basis. Sleep deprevation sucks!

  7. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/30/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.


    Please read -- from my blog.

    "This morning (Sat., July 28) I was contacted by XXXXXXX regarding the inoperative generators!!!!! He responded to a comment I left on the KBR website. I called him in Baghdad and gave him the necessary information."

    August 3: The location in question (younger son) has had power consistently for over a week now. I did speak w/ the KBR rep again and will call him tomorrow about your (TD) situation.

    I've been trying to get the word out that we can USE OUR VOICES to make these contractors accountable for what they are so well paid to do. I don't have large group of readers --- but you do!

    Let's get these generators fixed while we've got KBR's attention!

  9. Anonymous5/8/07 12:31

    Yeah, I find closed bids to be as distasteful as you, but it's important to remember that the means these companies may be getting these contracts doesn't change the fact that there are few companies and can and will provide many of these services.

    It's an imperfect system, but whaddaya gunna do...

  10. Damn, I've been there man, you get a crappy generator that overheats every hot afternoon. It just happened for us when we were packed in a brick building like sardines. Think lizard thoughts and bask in the heat, sounds crazy but it worked for me. Keep your head down, wish we were getting some of those bucks.

  11. It all comes down to Logistics and working within the client's Rules.

    I work for KBR and let me tell you, when it takes 6-8 months for the supply system to work, nobody is happy. But we have to do it the way the ARMY want's us to do it.

    If anything Blame the 5 or 6 layers of Brueocracy we have to get a work order through in order to compleat it.

  12. Anonymous6/9/07 04:24

    jeeze....another remf whining about something they know ZERO about.

    I spent 3 solid years in Iraq working for that company. KBR and other companies ARE NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE THE RULES OR PROCEDURES.

    jeeze. that simple. try learning at least a little about government contracting. If you dont like it, have your elected officials change the FAR.

    FAR = Federal Aquisition Regulations. its a massive set of government quidelines about procurement and contracting. All of its books will fill an office bookcase.

    Like parts...companies are specifically prohibited from ordering parts from the fastest supplier unless the ACO approves. It all has to be put out for competative bidding. To date, almost every ACO has been an Army Officer.

    Notice the word ARMY. Thats a uniformed person thats not authorizing the speedy purchase of what you need. They are the ones holding the budget, not the companies.

  13. Anonymous24/6/08 06:45

    Good Job!: )