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

Monday, February 11, 2008

Settling In

The wait in the Green Zone wasn’t short, but it was just short enough to forestall a meeting with the author of LT Nixon Rants. Too bad- I’ll have to try again on the trip back. I caught a Blackhawk helicopter ride from the Green Zone south to FOB Kalsu- home to the 2nd and 4th Brigades of the 3rd Infantry division. The 2nd Brigade, my hosts for this stage of the trip, is famous for leading the “Thunder Run” to Baghdad in the initial invasion.

On the flight down to Kalsu, I made friends with a civilian electronics tech. He had a day or so in between places he had to go for his job, so he was flying down to Kalsu to play high-stakes poker with his cousin stationed there. Was it a waste of government resources? I suppose you could look at it that way, but he had nowhere else to be, and the helicopter was flying with or without him. I don’t understand the surprise some people claim at the idea that soldiers might be gambling (or participating in most any other vice, for that that matter). Soldiers are soldiers, and war doesn’t often change their amusements.

From FOB Kalsu, I jumped on a convoy headed east into Arab Jabour, finally arriving at Patrol Base Meade, an isolated outpost that headquarters the 5/7 Cavalry. We had worked with 5/7 Cav under the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry before we left Falluja- after we left they were attached to 2nd Brigade and moved to Arab Jabour. The soldiers I’ve met at all stages of my trip here seem to kick their estimation of me up a couple of notches upon learning that I served in Iraq- 5/7 soldiers kick it up even more when they find out about my time in Pathfinder. One soldier recognized me from some time we spent living in Iraqi houses south of Falluja- I walked out of the tent last night to hear him telling other soldiers about it. I still feel good about what we accomplished there, and I’m glad to know the guys we worked for back in al-Anbar held us in such high regard.

PB Meade is a recently constructed base in the center of Arab Jabour. Actually, it is still in the process of construction- just days before I got here, there was no heat or electricity. Those are spotty at best, and when the heat goes out at night a bone-chilling cold descends. It’s not the coldest I’ve ever been- not by a long shot, but it’s still damned uncomfortable. Food comes in on trucks, and moves from PB Meade to a scattering of even smaller patrol bases about the area. These bases are a fundamental piece of the counter-insurgency doctrine that the military is now pursuing in Iraq- sometimes separated from neighborhoods by little more than a hasty earthen wall, they allow the troops stationed at each near instant access to the community.

Over the next few days, I’ll be doing a little bit less “blog” style posting, and more photos and story about the fight in Southern Arab Jabour- keep checking back, and I’ll get posts up once I’m back on reliable internet.


  1. I don’t understand the surprise some people claim at the idea that soldiers might be gambling (or participating in most any other vice, for that that matter).

    Who are these strange people that would be surprised that soldiers might actually want to have some fun?!? It's silly that folks want our young, enlisted, and single soldiers to be part of some politically correct mob. I feel bad for the ones I see around, since they have to burn their one 4-day pass on some crappy base in Qatar! Thanks for serving your country kid, here's your token 3 beers/day, what's that all about? My last deployment we pulled into Thailand for almost a week. Now that was some good times. I'm surprised everyone came back to the boat to get underway. The morale definitely got turned around at the halfway point despite the rest of the deployment sucking.

    Look forward to those pics from MND-C!

  2. Sounds like you just got home TD, looking forward to your thoughts about progress or lack there of, I hear the speaker repeated her claim that the surge is not working. She is such a bitch.

  3. Oh by the way, I started playing poker in Germany, 1961, no matter how much things change, the still stay the same.

  4. I suppose they'd really get up in arms if they knew about the crap games. Not that we ever did anything like that but I heard rumors.

  5. I'm gonna take a wild guess about the coldest you've ever been... glacier water in the Eagles ringing any bells? Haha.

  6. Anonymous12/2/08 01:54

    If you want to spend your time with the best troop in the squadron, find your way to wherever Apache Troop is hanging their stetsons. I worked with them for 5 months in North Saqlawiyah. Tell CPT J (King Jack) that Slab says hello.

  7. You mean our young, American soldiers participate in such vices as gambling? Gracious! It's probably a good thing that you missed Lt Nixon :)

    Bring on the photos.

  8. Yeah, you sound right at home. And how timely to get that recognition for TF Pathfinder's work, especially after the recent anniversary. Look forward to the photos.

  9. Glad you're set to go. I'm looking forward to the pics as well.

    Take care.

  10. The surprise some people have is just the result of abject ignorance, both of history and human nature. As regards the former, why should anyone be startled that soldiers find entertainment in low-risk games? And historically, well, there are many games throughout all history which were devised specifically by soldiers to be able to engage in a little harmless gambling.

  11. Erf. I mean, "as regards the latter"...

  12. Enjoying the read. Will be interested to hear what you have to say.

  13. Enjoyed reading the blog while you were deployed. Looking forward to reading your writings during this time! Great stuff! Take care.

  14. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in a blog post From the Front 02/15/2008 Due to lax posting this week I’m bringing you ALL of the front line posts for the week today in a separate post. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

  15. Anonymous19/2/08 10:55

    I could have sworn 3rd brigade from 3rd ID lead the way to Baghdad in the initial invasion. Maybe they were both there...

  16. Greetings from TX!! My son is with the 101st and I hear they have zipped over to Meade! Say hello to MJ!!

    I also hear it is kinda crowded!!

  17. forgot to click the email hootis...

  18. Anonymous9/3/09 03:06

    ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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