Big changes have come my way over the past couple of weeks. After six months in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, with infantry units from the Big Red One (1st Infantry Division) and Polish 17th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, I have just arrived in Iraq for a change in job.
It was my choice to move. A new opportunity that could lead to bigger and better things in the future with my company. It was getting cold in Afghanistan and I hate the cold. I spent the tail end of OIF I and OIF II (Operation Iraqi Freedom) in Iraq as a soldier and can handle the heat a lot better than the cold of the Afghan mountains. Most of my friends were leaving at their end of tours, Polish and American, but I leave behind a few friends I will miss, especially Michal, the Polish medic and fellow foodie, who signed up for another six months. He was on R & R in Poland when I left and didn’t know I was leaving, it was last minute for me. He emailed me saying he was bringing real Polish keilbasa for us. I was sad to tell him I wouldn’t be there. One day, I’ll visit him in Poland and he and his family are welcome in my home in the US anytime. The downside of this move is I was not able to go on R & R as planned. I was supposed to be back home October 19th for two weeks.
The trip from Afghanistan to Baghdad, where I was before heading to al Basrah in southern Iraq, was interesting. I had a flight out of Bagram with DFS, a “charter” airline that flies in and out of various places in Afghanistan to Dubai. But, I had to get to Bagram first to catch the flight. One starts early trying to get a flight as you are never guaranteed a seat. One cannot depend on getting a flight when you need one. Amazingly enough, my flight request submitted a week ahead of time was approved and I arrived in Bagram on October 11th. My flight to Dubai was on the 14th, so I had three lovely nights to spend in Bagram. It seemed like three years.
Bagram Air Base was even worse than I remembered it. I had to get in the transient tents on the far side of the base, which was a circus
tent with rows of bunkbeds crammed together, absolutely miserable conditions. I slept in a cot in my office in a tent at FOB Ghazni and that was fine, but prisoners in the US live better than many civilians in Bagram. Contractors are treated like dirt here. When I was in Iraq, contractors were treated better than soldiers, but the tables have turned. I’ve seen both sides of the coin, as a soldier in Iraq and as a contractor in Afghanistan.
On the food front, I just stayed in the Warrior area, where the transient tents are located. I had no desire to do anything else there. The Warrior mess hall was worse, if anything, than before. I rated it better than the other two chow halls I tried at Bagram, but it is just as bad now as the others were then. I need to update that blog post. I didn’t eat there much, skipped meals and got stuff at the Pizza Hut and Subway there. Both were very ho hum, but better than the mess hall.