Monday, October 23, 2006

Enough already!!! I am ready to return

You know you are too old when.... Given that I am not that old. However, in the US military structure, 41 year old officers are typically senior Majors or Lieutenant Colonels, I am not moaning about my rank, I did the things that caused me to arrive at this rank at this time; (Nothing exciting mind you, just a good break in service) As a result, I don't have peers on this lovely little pass. That doesn't sound terrible, but the average age of the people on pass has to be about 24-26. I just don't quite fit in, neither am I as lean as these guys, although again that is my issue.

Another issue I have been introduced to, is that there is a complete culture difference between the Army, Airforce Navy and Marines. Mostly, Marines and Army are very similar there is no huge cultural difference there, particularly among the infantry soldiers. Grunts are grunts. In the Army itself there is a difference between Combat Arms, Combat Service Support, and Combat Support. Variations are often shaded by the distance from the actual battlefield, meaning that the further from the fight, the less reality intrudes, and the more efficiencies become important. Long discussion possible there. The Airforce has no grunts, they have people who fly, people who make it possible for them to fly, and logistics support. There is a small group of Airforce who mix with and support the other forces, and they typically are good folks. I just don't really understand the pilots, I find it difficult to understand the crews, that is probably a limitation of mine, not a knock on them. Navy..... I don't get the Navy at all. Nice enough, but again, no dirt, no guns, and in a ground war, familiarity with terrain and firearms is a prerequisite to survival. So, without going into what they do or if they should do it, let us just say I don't speak Navy well either. It has taken me two or three days here to realize that an older, married man, with ring on finger, just doesn't have much in common with the 95 percent of the rest of the population.

That said, Qatar has been fun. They have a very pool here, that is about 10 feet deep and I would say 50 meters long, good for cooling off, perfect weather for a pale Irish man. The gym is fantastic, I would kill for it back in Shouz or Shindand. Two Coffee shops, many books, a day spa where you can get a massage for about 30 dollars. (Deep tissue massage is not relaxing, won't be doing that again in a real hurry) Movies going somewhere almost 24/7 and no real hassles here. That is what makes it good. Units that send pairs or groups of soldiers should really benefit from their improved morale. Units that can only send one at a time, may benefit somewhat less although again, it really is what you make of it. We took a little day trip off post, during Ramadan, that meant that we had to wear long sleeves and long pants. The locals don't seem to be wearing that, but don't want to offend anyone. (Political correctness is getting old folks). Got to the beach, played volleyball, waded amongst the fish and jelly fish until enough of us had been stung, and then out for lunch, and the afternoon in the pool. Very nice conversation from a British lady who wasn't quite enamored with either Bush or Blair. She was there visiting her daughter who was getting paid handsomely by the local oil company to teach English to its employees children.
As nice and relaxing as all of this has been, I am looking forward to getting to work again in either Shindand or Shouz.

I would have pictures taken and posted, but they are very restrictive about what can be shown, so I will describe it instead. I am on a base that is maybe a mile or two long and wide, the housing is placed inside warehouses that are huge, I believe this may be where they preposition's weapons previously, but I don't know. In anycase, the warehouses have multiple rooms in them each room has 16 people possible to occupy. The permanent party I think share 2 by 2 or something. Because it is in the warehouse the temperature is constant, and the lighting is not natural. But, overall I would give it a good grade. I have seen one patch of grass that looked kind of bamboo like, other than that I have seen no natural vegetation. The resort had planted palms, and had grass, but I am sure that wasn't cheap. So pictures of this place would look a lot like a fuel farm and distribution center in the middle of the Nevada Desert, someplace where you couldn't see mountains though. The hard pan seems to be about 8 inches thick, and I am not sure why they break it up to lay down underlayment for roads, as it looks exactly like concrete. If you take a picture of a local national, they can press charges. If you take a picture of the chain link fences in the compound you can be disciplined under the uniformed code of military justice. So, I have left my camera in the bag. Trust me on this, you aren't missing much.

Okay, that is enough for now, Happy Birthday Jeff,

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