28 December 2007

Kuwait: The Crossroads of Purgatory

Tent City: Step-off point to Wherever

Most military folk who go into Iraq or Afghanistan pass through the oil-rich country full of sandstorms and camels, Kuwait. I recently passed through it on the way back to the states for R&R for a couple days. Despite my griping about the lack of sheets in the transient tents and the process by which the Army moves people from point A to point B, I took it upon myself to be chatty and talk with the soldiers who were stuck in purgatory with me. A good place to start a conversation is the smoke pits conveniently located on the rocky walking paths. Most soldiers don't know what to make of me as a Naval officer lounging about smoking Kools, but I try not to give off an aura of douchiness so that people will be able to shoot it to me straight.

The consensus for the soldiers in Iraq is that things have calmed down significantly. This is especially true for the folks who dwell in the western province of Anbar. I talked with one SSGT who mentioned that the Shiite enclaves on the east side of the Tigris in Baghdad were still quite dangerous and traveling by convoy was still a source of concern for most. One PFC in the Guard asked me when he thought we would be getting out of Iraq. As an officer I've always hated myself when I couldn't properly answer a question, but this one really disturbed me. I honestly have no idea when coalition forces will be out of Iraq, and I am starting to lose faith in the policy makers in Washington for having an answer to that question as well.

As for Afghanistan the consensus was that it was very cold in the mountains this time of year. I asked how the fight was going and there seemed to be an uptick in violence, along with NATO forces routinely rounding up foreign jihadists. Many of the folks heading out on R&R lamented that it was their third or fourth tour, but were generally ecstatic that they were heading home on a bird for the holidays. As bored as I was waiting around to get out of there, it was certainly interesting to get such clarity on a cross-section of issues in both Iraq and Afghanistan in this nexus of information. It was certainly more interesting than sitting around watching South Park episodes on my laptop for the umpteenth time. I hope all these folks are enjoying the holidays with their friends and family, and they are not worrying about the inevitable return to our nation's conflicts. (X-posted at Vetvoice)


Grung_e_Gene said...

Sir, you know when we're "getting out of Iraq". Round 'bout the same time as S. Korea...


LT Nixon said...

Hopefully that tune changes in the near future. Do we even have the tax revenue to do it?

Sergeant Grumpy said...

A Navy LT that takes time to talk to Soldiers! You have something important in your future Sir, I don't know what, but any man who takes time to talk to us instead of watching South Park has my vote.



LT Nixon said...

SGT Grumpy,

Sadly, I have too many skeletons in the closet to run for anything more important than the Waste Comissioner of Palookaville County. But thanks to the anonymity of the internet, crazy ideas can be espoused ad infinitum. Hope you have a good New Years in-country (if at all possible).

Anonymous said...

LT Nixon said...
"Hopefully that tune changes in the near future. Do we even have the tax revenue to do it?"

Presumably we do. It's the personnel - could the Army sustain Surge levels for another year? Five more years?

- Barry