Shortly after my 8 month stint in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, I redeployed to Basra, Iraq intent on completing my one-year adventure. Basra was a completely different experience than was "J-Bad". Living conditions were much better and I worked on an Army 2-Star's staff as opposed to the Brigade Commander level (O-6) in Afghanistan. The work was just as interesting in Basra and folks there understood my capabilities which translates to my keeping busy -- a definite necessity!
The base in Basrah is a five-star resort compared to conditions in Afghanistan, and the fact that we are still fighting a very serious war in Afghanistan does not escape me.
I returned home in December for a much needed break and because my desire for service to our country (the job market sucks) is so strong, I decided to do yet another deployment, back to Basra. It was a terrific break, spending time with family, relaxing, making a few Vegas trips, and reacquainted with the real (and crazy, upside down) world.
I arrived here yesterday, March 27th but the trip was not without some rocks and shoals (hazards to navigation for you non-nautical types). Evidence of the first set of approaching rough seas became apparent when I discovered that all my qualifications for overseas deployment had expired since my last set of official medical exams and certifications back in September '09. So I had to fill out a sheaf of government forms and get poked and prodded once more. The lack of specific directions for what needed to be done was stunning, but some how I made it through after wearing out a few pens, burning tanks of gas, and replacing printer cartridges.
I left the US late at night on the 24th and made it to Doha, Qatar Airport about 12 hours later. Once there, we were informed that the worst sand storm in 20 years was hitting Kuwait and that the airport was shutdown. We finally got out of Doha 6 hours later arriving @ Kuwait Int'l @ 3 in the morning. The trip was no where near over as I had to get my passport stamped for entry into Kuwait, collect my bags, and find a ride to the Logistics Support Area, "Ali Al Salem", a 1 hr. + ride and the airfield from which I would make the final leg of the trip to Basrah.
Spending a night @ Ali Al Salem is an experience I wish on no one! It's basically a tent city with 14 bunk beds per tent. Being that the rows of tents are sitting on sand mixed with coarse gravel, just moving my 140 lbs. of luggage around required reserving an All Terrain Vehicle. The lights inside the tents are on 24/7 so I'm glad I remembered to bring a sleeping eye mask and ear plugs.
I finally arrived in Basrah on Sunday afternoon, and soon it was like I never left....,
As far as I can tell, the most important thing we're doing here now is preparing for all U.S. Forces to leave Iraq near the end of this year. We're closely monitoring the roads that will be used and looking to stop any insurgent activity before it starts.
More, hopefully sooner than later! My email address is still good; Bob.Rubin@GMail.com
h: (858) 271-5807