Sunday, October 15, 2006

Living the Life of Riley

Sunday 10/15/06

Living the Life of Riley

I don’t know who Riley was, or why his life is the standard of luxury and comfort (if I had an internet connection yet I’d Google it), but the phrase definitely applies to life here at Camp Arifjan. I am now installed in my permanent quarters, and by the standards of an army at war they are luxurious indeed. I’ll describe them a bit further on, but first an update of the past couple of days:

Saturday morning I went into the STB offices to finish inprocessing. After jumping through some hoops to verify my security clearance (more of the same old left hand – right hand nonsense), I got my access badge for the CFLCC headquarters building. (CFLLC {pronounced “see-flick”} is who we are - Coalition Forces Land Component Command – I seem to have an affinity for Army-level headquarters these days). We are in the middle of an organizational transformation, so you see it written all different ways – Third Army CFLLC, Third Army ARCENT, CFLLC ARCENT, etc. I’m not sure what the correct transformed designation is, but I gather that many people want to retain the Third Army lineage through the transformation, because of the unit’s history as Patton’s Third Army in WWII. Many of the street names here are evocative of Third Army history (e.g., one building I noticed was on the corner of Avranches and Bastogne).

Here is my address:

MAJ Bradley J. Foster
APO AE 09306

Now I only have a couple things left to do, including going to TMP to get my driver’s license. My section has a vehicle assigned, so that will make life much easier.

I had turned out to be more jet lagged than I thought I was. Friday night I got to sleep around 2330, but woke up at 0230 and couldn’t sleep. I got up and went out to the gym to do PT. I was surprised to see quite a few people out, and took some photos. People here work at all times around the clock, and most adapt their schedules to do PT during the cooler hours. Here are some photos from the tent city area of the camp: (Click on the photos for more detailed descriptions of each)

*My Tent

*Basketball at night

*Volleyball at night

*Entrance (or...?)

I knew I’d fade fast as the day wore on, so after I got my inprocessing done, the 1LT who’s been doing this job showed me around the area. I got a lot of information very quickly, and I’m sure I only retained a small portion of it. But it was a good overview, and got my mind working on quite a number of things that will have to be done. I alternate between thinking this is just not the kind of job I had in mind when I volunteered to come over here, and thinking that it’s not only something I can do well, but also that it’s a very good situation given the requirement that I finish CGSC/ILE by the end of next year. I’d have a hard time doing that from a tent someplace.

Just as I was deciding that I had had enough new information for the day and needed to go get some rest, I ran into the Sergeant Major who said they had my room assignment ready. Now *that* was something I could handle – just my speed given my state of exhaustion and also the incentive to have a room to sleep in (and hopefully a better bed!).

I was surprised at how quickly they got me a room, and even more surprised by how the housing people treated me. It was definitely the “royal treatment”. I began to realize that I am considered one of them, and that we are going to be taking care of each other. An unexpected perk. And the actual room was even more unexpected. My first surprise was that I was assigned a single room. *Everybody* shares rooms here, with at least one other person if not more. I don’t know how high you have to be to rate a single, but I don’t’ think many majors have them. There are hardly any singles in this whole building. So they took care of me.

The next surprise was when I got there. Not only do I get a room to myself, it has a refrigerator and cable TV (yes, cable TV!). Unbelievable - every room in the building has a fridge and a TV. When I was in the Army before, we used to make fun of the Air Force for living in luxury. Now I think we must be trying to catch up. It sort of reminds me of the beginning of “Apocalypse Now”, when Martin Sheen’s character (an SOF captain) is briefed in an air-conditioned trailer and served lunch on china. It seems a bit out of place in a war zone, but I guess it’s nothing new.

Here are some more photos:


*Pallet of Water


*Looking In

*My Bed

*My Desk

I spent most of today getting settled in and searching for an internet connection. I went to the PX and picked up a few things for my room (PC speakers, reading light, etc). That was pretty straightforward. Finding an internet connection was not. I was sent on wild goose chases all over the base. Nobody had what I want, but they all knew for sure that it was available in a different shop on the other side of camp. So I’d board a shuttle bus and ride/walk to wherever, only to find out they didn’t have it, but if went to this other place…

*Shuttle bus

The bottom line is that I have to go off post to get what I want. I can’t do that right away, so I’ll have to do without for awhile. It also may turn out that I don’t need to. They are supposed to have wireless service up and running here in a month or so. Since I can get a secure connection by walking over to the CZee and paying for an Ethernet hookup, I could use wireless in my room if it were available. I may just bag it for a few weeks while I get a handle on my new job. If they don’t have wi-fi available here in a reasonable amount of time, I will have to go off-post and buy the service. But for now I’ll just compose my entries offline, and then go over there to upload and edit it at $5/hr. I can download email at the same time, compose answers, and upload them next time. It’s not as immediate, but it’s good that there’s at least something available.

Besides not being able to do my online courses, the other thing I miss right now is the IM capability. I was enjoying having AIM and Yahoo Messenger up and being able to chat with friends and family from time to time. But since I’ve been here I just haven’t been able to do that.

Oh, well. I should have such problems! I have come to the conclusion that this is a very good deal. As much as the hard-core military officer in me thinks I’d be of more use further forward, this will be a very good place to be for the next year. I’ll solve my internet access problem and finish my required education, while doing what I can to have a positive impact on the situation here.

Tomorrow is my first “real” day at work. I have my notebook organized and a few thoughts about what to start on. After I upload this entry, I plan to relax and watch a movie (I checked out “The Bourne Identity” from the community center today). Tomorrow I start to earn my pay.

Mood: Optimistic
Music: Altan – Another Sky, Blackwater, Harvest Storm


At 01:21, Anonymous Conor said...

Sounds like you're doing alright over there. I'm curious about the time zone difference, how far ahead/behind of us are you?

Talk to you soon!

Love, Conor

At 22:47, Anonymous Jim Welke said...

Hello Brad,

Nice job on the Blog. You may not even remember me, but we had a few conversations last year when I left my job.

Anyway, I got your e-mail announcing your departure, and started reading your musings. Interesting stuff. It's not exactly like I'm sharing in the sacrifice of the folks "over there" (I'm sitting here in my cozy home), but at least I can feel informed.

Thanks for being there, and the best of luck to you, and, for that matter, everyone else in the military these days. Be safe.

BTW, I enjoyed the Robert Service poem very much!



At 15:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are good pictures... glad that's working. ~Laurance


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