Thursday, November 24, 2005

Work as Usual

With all the sensational headlines in the news regarding Operation Iraqi Freedom, a soldier can be a little embarrassed to write home about how much of what we do is actually routine everyday stuff--with the obvious exception of people outside the wire who are trying to kill us, it's not much different than what we might be doing back at Fort Stewart Georgia. (The picture here is of Chief Bowen, our battalion motor officer swamped with paper work.) The images on CNN and FOX news that we see on the internet and on the big screen TV in our mess hall capture brief instances of violence or controversy that make up so little of our actual day. It satisfies the ego to think families are seeing news footage and thinking of us, so we're never too anxious to explain that day-in-and-out life is full of non-glamorous work.

We still have soldiers who begin their mornings policing up cigarette butts off the ground, sweeping and moping floors, or cleaning out toilets. NCOs still have to deal with petty squabbles between junior enlisted soldiers, and everyone seems to find some satisfaction in complaining about his or her superiors. (Transporting water--our lifeline in the desert--is a draining task.) There are day shifts and night shifts. There are lots of meetings, reports, and paperwork that need to be finished yesterday. There are flu shots administered, promotion and re-enlistment ceremonies attended, physical training tests conducted, and food, water, ammunition and other supplies that need to be transported and accounted for--none of which attracts the many reporters we have scurrying about theater. (Here at FOB Speicher, we have at least two fire stations manned by civilian contractors from the states. The picture here is their response to a call when a shipping container filled with aerosol cans began exploding in the summer heat.)

War is work, whether one works in combat or combat support units it gets old quickly. Before long, the only things motivating soldiers is not letting his fellow soldiers down and getting work done, so we can all return safely home to loved ones. (The picture here shows soldiers at the computer center emailing and chatting with family and friends back home. The phones are on the other side of the trailer-complex.)

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