Via WPRO, John Loughlin Checks In From Iraq
John Loughlin, currently serving in Iraq, sent a letter to WPRO (was this via snail mail?), mainly describing his duties and schedule but also touching on living conditions. Below is an excerpt; inexplicably, WPRO did not put up the entire letter. I found his description of the living quarters especially enlightening. Keep in mind that Loughlin is an officer so presumably, the conditions for enlisted personnel are even more … luxurious.
I live in basically a shipping container called a Containerized Housing Unit or “CHU.” It’s basically 8’ x 12’, has a wall locker, a bed and a small refrigerator. A typical work day begins at about 0500.
We are on a seven-day per week schedule, about 10 hours per day. I do get four hours off each Sunday, but that time is consumed doing my laundry and cleaning out the CHU.
I have about a 20 minute walk to my office which is located in the former Baath Party headquarters on Forward Operating Base or FOB Union III. We are a team of about 15 advisors who advise on everything from training to tactics. We have a tag-up to compare notes and then journey to Phoenix base to meet with the Iraqis. That’s a short journey via up-armored SUV, wearing what we call “full battle rattle.”
Full battle rattle consist of (gotta love the acronyms) IOTV, ACH with 9mil. Translated that’s the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, kind of like the flack vest of old, the Army Combat Helmet and the ever-present sidearm.
We typically spend three hours or so per day working directly with the Iraqi’s. I have found them to be extremely hospitable. They always break out the tea, and unlike US offices, there is no prohibition on smoking at ones desk – so the second hand smoke is thick.
We return to the FOB after these meetings, which the Army calls Key Leader Engagements to, reduce the data, compare notes and work on providing the benefit of our experience to the fledgling force.
The week is broken up by the reporting we have to make to higher headquarters. Last Friday, I briefed the three-star general on helicopter maintenance issues. I spent probably ten hours or so making sure my briefing was ready to go. This included rehearsals with my colleagues asking every conceivable question to make sure I was ready to brief and could field any question that might come up. Not unlike political prep for the Dan Yorke show. The three-star’s reaction was three words, (one for each star) “Thanks, good brief”.