The FOB Life

9 July, 2007

What is a FOB you ask? FOB stands for Forward Operating Base, its Army speak for a smaller base, away from a main base that is used to expand the area that troops control. But wait, there’s more: the PB or Patrol Base, is an even smaller base used, oddly enough, to launch patrols from so troops can further expand their area of control.

Currently I’m operating out of a FOB called McHenry, outside of Kirkuk, and rotating to two PBs, BAKER and MILLET. We were sent down here about three days after getting to Kirkuk. FOBs are fairly rough compared to main bases (even deployed location main bases), but the conditions are definitely livable, we have (mostly) indoor plumbing, air conditioning (usually I’d call that a creature comfort, but in 120 degree plus weather, they’re pretty much necessary for those of us that didn’t grow up in this environment), and actual beds (more or less) to sleep in. We get to live in rooms made from modified Land/Sea containers and eat at a DFAC (Dinning FACility) that’s not a tent.

On the other hand there’s not much that will make you appreciate the comforts of modern living like a PB. Living in a tent in the middle of a desert country (not the rolling dunes kind of desert, more like the American West desert – scrub brush, dust, heat, various poisonous critters…) is a bit rough. With twenty or so cots to a tent there’s no privacy and because there’s no plumbing it generally smells pretty funky (you get used to that eventually though). If you’re lucky your tent has a couple of good AC units and stays below 95 during the day and you can stay relatively cool when not on a mission. At night the tent AC can generally keep up and you can actually sleep in relative comfort. On mission there’s not much you can do about getting hot, even at night its pretty warm and wearing 30 or so pounds of body armor and equipment tends to bring your temperature up a bit regardless. There’s also little in the way of outside communications at a PB. Other than military radio traffic and the occasional satellite phone call, there’s really now way to get in touch with the outside world. Mail only makes it as far as the FOB, and forget about internet. In fact, even at the FOB the only internet access we have is for half an hour at a time in the MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) tent, and the wait is usually about 45 minutes for a connection that makes dial-up look speedy.

For all of that though, life could be worse, we could be living out of our trucks with nothing but what we can carry, so I’ve got that going for me. So for those of you checking up on the site over the next month or two, it may be a while between posts but I’ll try and keep everybody up on the (fairly) current events here in Iraq when the opportunity presents itself.

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