Sunday, July 30, 2006

Random Rumblings

Well, no photos on this entry, so most folks aren't going to find this as interesting as the last entry, but it's been awhile since I've posted anything, so I know I owe some info' to all my faithful readers.

It's late on a Sunday night here at Camp Anaconda. I must admit I'm going a little stir crazy. Since we shifted hours we don't really get to eat at the chow hall anymore, but tonight we raced home so we could have a section meeting with real sit down food, plates, ice cream and everything. It was quite a treat.

We're having a bit of a shift change for various reasons, and my section is going to be on the night shift. No more sweating my tail end off in 60 pounds of body armor during the middle of the day! Of course now we'll be staying up for twelve hours overnight, but you can't win everything.

I wish I could write something meaningful and heart touching, but the truth is (as I said) I'm just rambling here. I'm also trying to change my sleep pattern, so I'm on a bit of a caffeinne high right now. Not the best for getting the creative juices a-flowin'. Maybe I'll sit around and brainstorm some topics, try to write something worthwhile over the next two days.

'Til then, keep the cards and letters (and care packages) coming.

SSG Murf

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Alot of people write asking me how horrible conditions are here, feeling sorry for what we must be going through.

I mentioned before that we were living pretty plush around here. Well, I gathered up some photos, and decided to share them with everyone.

First, here's where I live:

I'm a Staff Sergeant, so I get my own room. Partially as privelege of rank, but also in order to hold meetings, conduct counselings, and just to get me away from the guys so we all have some time to decompress.

Here's our front walkway:

The break in the concrete barriers in the middle of the picture leads back to our bathrooms about 20 meters away.

Here's the compound from the middle of the quad. On top of the stacked trailers where my room is you can see our satellite dish we use to connect to the internet. It alway kind of reminded me of Melrose Place.

Now I've got something interesting to show ya'.

What's behind those barriers? Lots of concrete there, it must be something important.

Here it is from the other side. Two gun trucks out front protecting it? Must be pretty valuable. Let's look around the corner.

Nope, still can't see anything. What could it be?

With double overhead sandbag covering, concrete bunkers all around, it must be the safest port-a-johns in all of Iraq. Well, at least we can't get hurt while we're going poo.

Friday, July 14, 2006

What's an Infantryman?

I'm often asked here and elsewhere what exactly an Infantryman is and/or does.

Robert Heinlein described them as the ultimate purpose and arm of the entire military. No other unit exists but to support the infantry directly or obliquely.

I'm an indirect fire Infantryman.. Which means I lead a heavy mortar section (2 120mm cannon crews). In conventional combat our role would be to serve as the commander's first indirect fire asset. We're his hip pocket artillery. Fast, accurate, and extremely destructive, our wide range of ammunition allows us to support front line infantry in almost every situation.

But what's an infantryman? Here's some links I find especially appropriate:

He's an Infantryman

The Infantryman's Creed

Wiki's infantryman page

The Go Infantry Forum

This should give you the flavor of who we are, and maybe what makes us tick (we're all mad, if you really must know).

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Saturday night in Iraq

Well dammit, I had a great paragraph all typed up, and somehow mozilla ate the page, so I have to start over again.

It's Saturday night in Iraq. Germany is kicking the crap out of Portugal for 3rd place in the world cup. Earlier the helicopters were out flying test firing their machine guns, and the night is crystal clear. I can look up and see THOUSANDS of stars (thanks Dr. Linder). Were it not for the 3/4 moon currently up I'm sure I could see the curve of the milky way across the roof of the sky.

Believe it or not I'm having to fight the battle of the waistline here in Iraq. Y'see our job is sedentary. We sit at a gate all day, sometimes we open it up, sometimes we walk around and do maintenance on a vehicle, but for the most part we sit, stare at eachother and sweat, alot. Now you can't stay conscious for very long unless you're replacing all the water you're sweating out, so we never lose that water weight. Add to that the fact that the food is good, and we get served lots and you have a recipe for disaster. So a group of us hits the road or the gym most every night. 45 minutes on the eliptical machine, running a few miles, throwing on a rucksack and going for a walk. Just trying to burn up those excess calories. I'm also having to discipline myself to stay to just one soda per day, and walk past the ice cream bar at the chow hall (thank god they don't have chocolate chip cookie dough, my favorite).

One of my squad leaders (I'm a section sergeant, so I have two squad leaders working under me) took a couple pictures immediately following a reaction force mission the other day, and I'm waiting for him to get them off his camera so I can post them up here. Once I have those I'll post up some shots of my room, and the compound where I live. Trust me, you won't feel sorry for me, it's plush.

Hey, Portugal just scored! WTH?

Anyway, that's Saturday night in Iraq. No beer, no babes, still no Ducati, but me, some good friends, and sights and sounds you couldn't find anywhere else in the world. Oddly enough it's good to be here.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Well, at least we had fireworks

This will be another quick one. It's about 9:20 in the morning and I need to get my gear on in a few minutes and get out the door.

Our Fourth was pretty quiet. We had a mortar attack, but it didn't land close enough to us to be much of a threat. It wasn't even very hot that day. In fact that last couple days have been nice and windy, which keeps the heat down.

After shift we had a little bar-b-cue in our pod (the collection of trailers where we live) with real stakes, real N/A beer and everything. Add the mortar attack from the morning and we had fireworks and everything.

I'm writing a story set in the future about the decline of traditional military organizations and the rise of private military contractors. Any writing advice from people who actually know what they're talking about would be helpful. I've written a couple pages of background. Should I outline the story first? Do I just go with the flow?

Well, time to pull on my boots and get out the door. Be well everyone, keep those letters and care packages coming.