Here's a vid someone posted on YouTube showing what a big sandstorm looks like commin' right for ya'..
I took notice of it because a friend posted it on FaceBook and it just happens to be taken where I lived for a year over at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Camp Disneyland...er Arifjan, is the main logistic and adminstrative hub for all activitites concerning CENTCOM (Central Command) which included Iraq, Afghanistan and what is commonly knows as "The Arbabian Gulf" region. Most of the convoys you hear about getting "hit" by roadside bombs in Iraq originate here, at least initially. We would have "grey" convoys consiting of "green" (military) and "white" (contractor/civilian) vehicles travel along MSR Tampa from "AJ" all the time. They would travel way up through Kuwait (along the infamous "highway of death" from Gulf 1), though either Camp Navistar at the Iraqi border (the worlds busiest truck stop) or another crossing in the desert farther inland, and then head up though Basra and into Baghdad. A lot of guys got killed on those missions since 2003.
Anyway, for the vast majority of people assigned there, AJ was a uncomfortable, but safe place to spend a year. We had the majority of MWR facilities that you could ask for...Rec centers, a couple of gyms, 3 px's, movie theater, pool...hell, they even had dancing outdoors. Man...I guess I was a pussy!!
Having spent time both in Kuwait and Afghanistan I can tell you the attitudes and BS levels were totally different. In Kuwait its a garrison atmosphere where you get yelled at for half assing a salute, have massive PT runs on Fridays, have monotonous change of command ceremonies to attent and basically work like you were at any other stateside post...except your duty days are much longer and the casualty reports you handle are for real.
One thing Kuwait did have worse than the other areas in CENTCOM was the weather. We generally ran between 10 - 20 degrees hotter than in Baghdad and sand and wind were a constant companion. We litterally were living in a middle of a desert with all the fun that entails. To keep from having to trudge through sand constantly they layed massive fields of stones to walk on that really worked your ankles the first couple of weeks to master walking on. When the temp hit its stride in the summer we could look forward to stretches of weeks where the temps would never drop below 95 degrees, even at night...daily highs could reach over 130. After a while you could adjust to the heat, but never the sand. It seemed like I was constantly pulling dust nuggets out of my nose and ever crevice of my body from it. The sand wasn't like beach sand but more like a powdery layer that layed around waiting for any excuse to bug the hell out of you.
The concrete buildings in the video are called PCB's, short for Prefabricated Concrete Buildings. It was the main domicile for most people in Zone 6, the area generally reserved for units that were over their on deployment. There was another area called Zone 1 that was for people actually assigned to CENTCOM from Ft. McPherson, GA that got to actually live in 4 story dorm type buildings. The PCB experience was much different. Imagine a storage building about 20x100 feet square with a tin roof that you and 50 of your buddies got to share. We made due. Using bunks, lockers and sheets we were generally able to set the large area into 2 to 4 man "pods" that gave at least some resemblance of privacy for the occupants. Best part was, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, we really didn't worry about much in the way of mortar fire while we slept.
To offset this environment you got $100 a month in "hardship duty pay" for being there. You also got $250 for "imminent danger pay"....right. We heard stories of different officers flying over to do an "inspection" to get their "combat pay" and tax free month and then flying back to the states the same day...don't doubt it. I hear that they are talking about taking away the "combat pay" for duty here...I guess I could see that (easy to say now that I got mine, right)...but the hardship duty pay is definitely warranted.
I got some more on life in Kuwait over at my other blog "Hueys Haven" linked on the right column on this blog.
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