On the Eve of Elections
DH called tonight (!) and sent me an update (!) from Kuwait--wow, phone call and e-mail in ONE NIGHT!!! He says he will not sleep, just go straight through to PT. I do not think he has quite adjusted to the time change yet.
Go to sleep, Love!
Week 1: Eve of the Elections
A dense, implausible fog has blanketed my corner of the desert. Visibility is, at most, 50 feet. As the mists rolled in, my soldiers and I talked about our expectations for tomorrow's national elections in Iraq. After interim government elections in January and the October Constitutional Referendum, this is the third time this year that the Iraqis have participated in national elections -- a fledgling democracy is hard work. There are reports that insurgent leaders have told their foot soldiers not to disrupt the polling places with violence. It seems that they are watching the results with as much anticipation as we are.
My battalion has been here for a week, unloading equipment from massive storage containers and getting it prepared for the push northward. Electricity, phone service, and running water are often interrupted in our camp, but the several months that we spent training in the field have prepared us for these minor deprivations. In fact, between the internet access and phones, the amenities here are lavish. My only worry is that our soldiers are billeted in giant tents, which do not make for the most healthful of environments. Three soldiers in my battalion have already come down with pneumonia. Despite these few hardships, my soldiers are in high spirits and are even getting restless to cross the border. In the next week, we will finish test firing all of our weapons and will performing some final training exercises.
The trip over was memorable. After saying goodbye to our loved ones in the middle of the night, we boarded buses and sped to an Army airfield. I got my smallpox shot before the flight (the worst side-effects should hit me in the next few days), and away we went. We refueled in Bangor, Maine and Hahn, Germany. In Maine, a dozen veterans or so had assembled to greet us and thank us for our service. Their respective organizations provided cookies and free cell phones for us -- the phones were much appreciated. This outpouring of support put us in a good frame of mind for the remainder of our journey.
When we got to Kuwait, we quickly found that we were no longer in a garrison environment. Before our drive to the Camp, our escorts handed out live ammunition like candy -- without the reams of paperwork that we had come to expect at Fort Hood.
We have at least 52 weeks over here. Soldiers have bought decks of cards, throwing out one card per week. One Specialist told me that he was holding onto the Ace of Spades until the very end.