Fear and Loathing in Iraq: August 23, 2004


Hello all. Nice and quiet here at 2 o’clock in the morning. I just finished my schoolwork and now I have the chance to relax and write a little. This week was just like last week: very quiet. I am not sure what’s gotten into the Iraqis, but they have been leaving the base alone. I figure they have moved further south and are helping out the fighting in Najaf, Fallujah and Baghdad. We only got hit with two rockets all week and it has put us all in a lull. There has been ever increasing talk about our leaving here, and with just about 4 months to go we are already making plans on what equipment we are leaving and what we are taking with us. We are talking timelines and estimations and writing reports about what has gone wrong and right since we have been here.

We have received reports that the unit that is replacing us will head to Ft. Rucker to begin training in late September, and a month or so later go to Kuwait, where they will train and in-process for about another month. That puts their arrival here in late December. There has been talk of some of our troops leaving in December and other key personnel staying later. When we pull the other platoons from all over the country back here there will be too many medics here for the mission, so many may get sent home. I would be one of the last to leave so I would stay, but it may work something like that. We shall see as time goes on. Either way, when operations are beginning, however slowly, to get us out of here, that is a good sign. It means we are over the hump and rolling down hill from here on.

What is funny about us leaving is we are in a mad rush to spend money! We are a small company by Army standards and our budget is small — when we are not at war. Since being here we have been flush with moolah and have been spending it like crazy. If you have read those articles where companies are buying $1000 cappuccino makers and Chevy Suburbans and nice office chairs — it’s all true! We have practically an unlimited budget for medical supplies and our supply guy has found out that the catalog we order from has tons of stuff not medically related. There are cars on the list, laptop computers, blank CDs, stereo equipment, you name it! So we have been buying crap left and right. Most will have to stay here, but a lot of it will come home with us.

We are bringing home all new medical supplies and packing our connexes full with equipment. We are completely outfitting our trucks with the latest medical gear: Israeli bandages, new clotting agents, $400 stethoscopes, electronic blood pressure cuffs, etc. It is a lot of fun. The military wastes so much money anyway, why not take what is budgeted for us to have? Each month we go to Tikrit, FOB Danger, where we get what is called FOO money. It is money we can do with whatever we want. We get $15,000 a month. Well we have bought everything our heart desires and have nothing left to buy. We constantly rack our brains to think of new stuff to buy, because it is like any budget, you have to spend it or you won’t get as much next month. We have been buying all new office furniture, that pool I mentioned, a private Internet connection, wireless internet hubs, and we even bought a $2000 slushy machine imported from Italy! It is crazy, but what the hell, why not? Now just look at your paychecks and cry when you see that your tax dollars are being used to buy us slushy machines, X-boxes, and designer couches for our TV room. Suckers!

Sgt Kling went on leave yesterday so I will be running the TOC for the next week during the day, and then will go back to nights. I am not looking forward to running the whole thing; I tend to shy away from responsibility when I can get away with it. Who needs the headaches? But it does feel good to be needed and I am glad I learned enough to be able to handle the whole place. I have to make sure the security reports are read and filtered for needed information, make sure the Internet keeps working, handle all calls and radio traffic with the ambulances, handle the people who come in out all day and ask a million stupid questions, and a thousand other little details that eat up the day. The only good thing about the day shift is that time flies by.

Well not much else to report so I included a little video my buddy made last week when an IED went off on the way to Balad. I have decided to send pictures or video with all the weekly newsletters now. Just to spice things up and also because things have been so quiet.

Take care all and I will see you next week.

--Chris Sachs