Friday, May 12, 2006
Well, I had an enjoyable flight in a Blackhawk from Baghdad about 50 miles north to Balad, Iraq. Not the city proper, but the airfield, Balad Air Base, and the huge Logistic Support Area (LSA) next to it called LSA Anaconda. The base earned a nickname of "Mortaritaville" because it gets frequent mortar attacks (called "indirect fire" in Army lingo). Not as many recently as in the past, but the first one was only 2 hours after I landed, and there's been another and I haven't yet been here 24 hours. Still, just because there's an attack on the base doesn't mean it's anywhere close to me. This huge place sprawls over 15 square miles, and there's a sophisticated warning system to detect incoming rounds. I haven't had much time to explore, but I have already seen the indoor pool (which I'll make use of!), the outdoor pool, the full size theatre (Eight Below is popular this month), and I've visited two of the four dining facilities (we get real silverware!) There's allegedly a mini-golf place on base here somewhere but I haven't located it yet. The most exciting part for me is the fact that I have "permanent" lodging, and was finally able to unpack my seabags into a wall closet. I have 1/3 of a CHU, "Containerized Housing Unit", essentially a truck trailer split into three rooms. That gives me a 12 foot by 14 foot space all to myself and it's quite nice. Some of the more senior officers get "wet trailers" where they have two rooms on the outside, and a shower/sink/toilet in the middle. I still have to hoof it to the latrine and shower, but that's fine. I'll post pictures when I get some time to actually finish "moving in". By the way, the more popular slang for one's room is their "hooch". Although I know I'm going to be in Balad, there's still some final shuffling around as they decide the best unit to employ me with. So I'll save a longer discussion of that for my next mail. For now, it's off to more meetings as we learn more about what we'll be doing here. The Army has been looking forward to our arrival and is treating us very well!