Monday, January 08, 2007

Back in Bagram again

Wow, what a trip that was, I haven't had as much fun in two weeks in quite a while. Also had the wrinkle in time effect. I traveled with two folks for the bulk of the trip out to Dallas TX, and when I arrived back in Dallas there they were again, and we traveled back together as well. Other than the fantastic memories, it could have all been a dream. Same place, same clothes, same people, and here we are again in Bagram.

The military charters aircraft that have seats wide enough for people under 130 lbs, or for those without shoulders. It is really painful. I challenge anyone in charge of the chartering to travel for extended time in that fashion with two or three guys who are as big or bigger than you. Bus seats are better. Go figure. I know it all comes down to money, I get it, and I know I am lucky to have been able to travel.

The folks at the USO in both Bangor, Maine, and Dallas, Texas were fantastic, the hospitality that they provided was much appreciated by everyone I traveled with. Truly above the expectation.

I did get to see Chris play Basketball, which was a big deal to me. I had to miss his play in the Varsity game, but he scored 4 pts in 5 minutes, and that was cool. Lots of fun with the family over Christmas. I have a very cool family, and I was really happy to get to spend as much time with them as I could.

One thing that I talked with my wife about prior to getting home was that we were not traveling a ton, and we kept it down to two trips one for Christmas to my folks, and one down to my sisters and my folks again to pick up some sewing. I really wanted to concentrate on my wife and I getting as much time together as possible with our kids. That worked out well although I think there may have been some people who felt that I was being selfish or what not. I was, I admit it.

Our neighborhood threw the best new years eve progressive party I have ever had the opportunity to take part in. What a great group of people that showed up, kids, grandparents, and everyone had fun, no one did anything stupid. That is truly a great time.

My wife and I managed to stay in the day everyday we were together instead of focusing on the upcoming separation. That made our time together so much better. She is truly a fantastic lady, I am very lucky to have her in my life.

They managed to get our butts back in to theater faster than I would ever have imagined. It took two nights and three days to get us out of Kuwait, to Dallas. It took approximately 2 hours for me to leave Dallas when I arrived from Portland and we flew virtually nonstop until we arrived in Kuwait. 767's are better than what ever it was we had coming out, much longer range tanks.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year. All my best wishes for the next 12 months.

PS To the Republicans who bought my dinner for my wife and friends... Thank you very much that was awesome, the company was better but the dinner was great.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this wil help with the transportation issue:

Military in Iraq tags U.S. airlines
Carriers now prohibited from flying into country would augment transit missions
Paul J. Caffera, Special to The Chronicle

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

If the military gets its way, U.S.-flagged air carriers soon may be allowed to fly into Iraq.

Since October 1996, aircraft registered in the United States have been prohibited from operating in Iraq by the Federal Aviation Administration's Special Federal Air Regulation Number 77. U.S. aircraft have only been permitted to make overflights at altitudes exceeding 20,000 feet.

Since the run-up to the war in Iraq, U.S. airlines have played an integral part in moving personnel and material overseas for deployment in Iraq.

An estimated 90 percent of the people, and about half of the equipment, deployed to Iraq flew to the region aboard commercial airlines.

From the beginning, those flights ended at locations near to but outside Iraq. But now, the Defense Department would like U.S. carriers flying for the military to fly into the country.

"U.S. Transportation Command is currently working with the FAA to finalize an arrangement to allow Defense Department commercial operations inside Iraq," said Lt. Col. G.P. "Cliff" Mirabella, a spokesman for the command, a Pentagon agency that coordinates transport operations. "Right now, the focus is on cargo flights. Passenger flights would depend on our success with cargo missions."

Maintaining a fighting force of more than 100,000 service members halfway around the world takes enormous airlift capacity. And the recent increase in troop levels is putting even greater stress on an already strained system.

According to the Air Mobility Command, a division of the Transportation Command, in the 18-month period ending April 6, Air Force transport planes flew 35,980 sorties to and from Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional 26,402 within Iraq. Being able to use U.S.-flagged carriers for flights into Iraq would lessen the load on the military-transport system.

The final decision on whether an airplane registered in the United States may fly to or within Iraq rests with the FAA. "The safety and security of the airspace and aircraft is our concern," said agency spokesman Hank Price.

When asked when the FAA might act on the military's request, Price said he would have to make inquiries to find out. He did not respond by late Monday.

Despite frequent attacks on aircraft operating in Iraq, Price said, "waivers (to regulation 77) have been approved for private operators conducting U.S. government missions." Four such waivers were granted between March and July last year.

Even if the FAA allows U.S. airlines to operate in Iraq, the issue of war-risk insurance may decide whether any carriers seize the opportunity.

Currently, U.S. aircraft lose their FAA-sponsored war-risk insurance if they fly in Iraq under a waiver of regulation 77.

David Castelveter, vice president of communications for the Air Transport Association, an industry group representing the nation's largest airlines, said Monday that ATA's member airlines would not fly into Iraq without insurance.

Still, since most of the military charter flights are being made by non-ATA carriers, there may be enough to meet Pentagon needs, even without insurance.

This article appeared on page A - 16 of the San Francisco Chronicle